Surviving a Trade Show with Style

After a weekend participating as an exhibitor, at a fabulously hosted trade show, I am reminded of the significant impact conventions and trade shows have in the world of networking. The following statistics also remind us that we shouldn’t take these networking opportunities lightly!

47% of business travellers reported
 that their last trip was to attend a meeting, trade show, or convention, as opposed to other activities, such as consulting or making a sales call.

The top 3 goals for exhibitors at trade shows are brand awareness, lead generation, and relationship building.
Source:  Skyline Exhibits market research

The average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing trade show exhibits at a show or exhibition.  That gives you plenty of opportunity to connect with your target audience.
Source: Exhibit Surveys, Inc.

Keep these 3 tips in mind the next time you are asked to represent your company at an industry convention or trade show:

  • Dress the part. Walking for miles and standing for hour, setting up and taking down, sitting for long stretches of time for keynote speeches…sounds like sweat pants and running shoes to me! Sadly no, you need to strike a balance between appropriate attire that represents you and your company’s brand and clothing that will allow you to make it through the long day ahead. One piece of advice, dress in layers, what may start off as a cool morning at the trade show, may quickly translate into a packed (and warm) conference room in the afternoon. When dressing for the occasion, try these quick tips:
    • Bring two pair of shoes. Simply changing the shoe can give our sore feet the much needed break.
    • Dress in layers. A blazer if ideal, dresses up when you need to but can be taken off for a more casual, and cooler look if needed.
    • Bring a stocked style kit. At the very least, include items such as Tide-to-Go Pen, deodorant, hair brush and hairspray, hand sanitizer, hem tape, nail file, and a needle/thread/button.
  • Take care of yourself. Whether you are an exhibitor or an attendee, trade shows and conventions can be long days. Add on the social components at the end (well, beginning and middle too!) and just getting through a single day is like completing a marathon, let along two or three days! Eat well (snack often to keep the energy levels up), drink lots of water and try to get some rest! When you can, take short breaks throughout the day to keep you feeling fresh and energized.
  • Treat everyone you meet with respect. Yes, this should be a given, but when faced with long stressful days, it can be easy to let our best manners slide. While checking into your hotel or wondering the aisles of the tradeshow, at these types of events you just never know whom you are going to run into. At the very least smile and make eye contact when passing fellow industry associates. Also, try to keep the temptation to complain at bay, work hard to be positive and tactful at all times…your reputation is at stake!

How would you answer the following questions asked to use by the internationally recognized and industry leaders in civility training, Civility Excerpts Inc.?

  1. You are attending an industry convention…

a)  visit as many tradeshow booths as possible and get free stuff.
b)  make a quick appearance and spend the day shopping.
c)  pretend you are ill and skip out of sessions early.
d)  attend all the required events and have a little fun as well.

Correct answer is D. Attend all the required events and have a little funs as well. We all know you want to have fun – but remember, significant resources have been committed to your attendance at this event, so try to create a balance, network and learn so you can bring back contacts and a fresh perspective and then reward yourself for your hard work with a little fun too!

2. How come it seems there is never enough food at convention receptions? If the invitation says 5:00 pm–8:00 pm, how come the food is gone by 6:00 pm?

Most often the food is provided as a courtesy. In reception situations, it is rarely intended that people eat “a meal” of finger foods and crackers and cheese. Typically if alcohol is served, a host/hostess will offer some food as well. This is also normal if an event is held immediately after work in which case the food is meant to tie you over until you have dinner. If it is a “business” function, the priority of guests should be business and not eating anyway. 

3. How do I know when it’s the right time to leave an event? I don’t like being the first to go but sometimes these events go on and on and I’m often tired after traveling.

Generally you should stay long enough to speak briefly with the host or hostess and/or wait until after the speeches or presentation is finished. It is usually better to leave early than to be the last one at the party. 

The following infographic is a reminder to us all that impression management is important while navigating the aisles of any trade show or convention.

A Guide to Tradeshow Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts you need to consider before you hit the sales floor!


So, the next time you are asked to attend a convention or trade show, take the time to think about the impression you are leaving with those you meet along the way.


Looking to boost the impression you leave at your next trade show or convention? Connect with HIGHStyle today to coordinate a meeting with your new stylist,


The experts at HIGHStyle are internationally trained, impression management professionals, recognized by the International Civility Trainers’ Consortium.

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