Exhibiting is like speed dating. If you are lucky you have about 90 seconds to convert someone from slightly interested to the second date (or "qualified prospect" in business parlance). Here are the five key ways to engage with strangers at your next show:


1 Smile

It seems obvious but many people on stands, or even at your front desk, don’t want to be there. One of the simplest things for the team to do is smile. Not a fake cheesy "looking like you are a little insane" smile but a relaxed, pleasant smile. It will make them appear more pleasant and approachable, and they will feel better about themselves. Some people don’t want to just smile for no reason but remember you’re speed dating – a smile may attract your prospect at the very least, it won’t scare them away.


2 Be interested

When you first speak to someone it is easy to dump on them everything you know about the product or service you are selling. Sometimes it is not until the end that you find your "prospect" is not interested. So be interest in them. What are they here for? What are they looking for? How were they thinking of using your product or service? This enables you to find out more about their needs that you can satisfy and about any issues they may currently be facing.


3 Have some ‘one-liners’

Just like trying to get the attention of someone on the speed date, you need a snappy statement that captures the prospect’s attention and engages their curiosity. Sometimes it can be a challenge to stand out so try different things that suit your image, product and brand. Here are some that I have heard:


"Excuse me sir, can I make you pregnant?" (Empathy Belly pregnancy vest for dads.)


"Would your child like to be the star of the show?" (Dressing room stars for kids’ bedrooms.)


"Would you prefer to stay in a 5-star hotel, or a hospital" (for a maternity hospital hotel service.)


"How would your business cope with a full system failure?" (IT offsite backup service.)


4 Have a crowd

Nothing builds a crowd like a crowd. So have something that attracts the crowd and gives our message at the same time. Options can include comedians, magicians. Wire bending or even a television showing the cricket. While the crow is there watching the show, your team can start engaging with them.


5 Be the host

Check on potential prospects needs while they’re at the show. Advise them where the food and toilet areas are. Help them find the booths they want to see. Ask them what they want from the show and help them try to achieve it. This reflects incredibly well on you and your organisation and keeps you top of mind when they are discussing your products and services.


Everyone wants to move onto a "date" when they are working at a tradeshow. It may be to find out about certain products or services, to discover something new, or it could just be to get a bargain. Whatever it is, these five keys will help you engage with visitors and be the one to help them achieve their goal.

Reference: – June 2013 – cim Australasia’s leading business events magazine