What are trade show etiquette tips for exhibitors and attendees?

Trade shows are important events for businesses to introduce and promote their products and services, network with industry professionals, and generate leads.

The investment a company makes in reserving a booth, marketing materials, and many times, accommodations for the employees who manage the booth is significant.

5 Etiquette Tips for Exhibitors:

1. Avoid Grooming: This includes clipping nails, picking teeth or nose, or adjusting body parts. Excuse yourself to the nearest restroom to handle your business.

2. Posture and Demeanor: Look up from your cell phone, have an approachable facial expression, avoid the bored look with your slouchy posture.

3. Eat Mindfully: I don’t mean healthy eating. It isn’t always possible, but try to avoid foods that drip or require huge bites. If possible avoid foods you have to eat with your hands. Why? Shaking hands is a part of the game.

4. Conversation Topics: Avoid bad-mouthing the company you’re representing. Avoid cursing. Avoid loudly talking about last night’s love conquest or how drunk you got.

5. Seductive Staring: You’ll no doubt see individuals that you find attractive; a glance is fine. But lustfully watching them walk by, with your eyes fully glued to them, can be creepy and unprofessional.

Tips for Selecting the Right Employee to Represent Your Company at a Trade Show

  • How are their social skills?
  • How are their presentation skills?
  • How are they viewed by their peers and clients? (This can determine if they will be the point person.)
  • How is their product knowledge; including your competitors.
  • Are they reliable?
  • Are they experiencing personal hardships that could affect their focus?

4 Etiquette Tips for Attendees: These are things that I’ve personally observed.

1. Free Give-Aways: They are not free; the company buys them. They are provided to promote their business. Not for individuals to grab a handful to give to their nine grandchildren. This goes for the candy bowl too.

2. Blocking Booths: Avoid gathering in front of an exhibitor’s booth. You may be blocking potential customers.

3. Refreshments: Never use an exhibitor’s table to set down your drink, ask them to dispose of your garbage, or charge your phone.

4. Roaming Salesperson: Imposing your sales pitch to paying exhibitors, is tacky and unprofessional. Exhibitors are there to attract new clients, not be sold to. Now, if you believe that you have a service or product that could be of interest, discreetly take their contact information, and contact them later.

Final Thoughts:

Positive representation is essential for a successful trade show investment. The right employees with the proper training is also essential. Be clear about how you want your staff to represent you. Set guidelines. When possible, send management to set the example, offer support, or give them a break. Prepare them with etiquette training.

Etiquette Expert/Trainer, Author, Media Source 

Nationally recognized etiquette expert with over twenty years of providing trainings, and serving as a source for media.

Trainings are available for: corporations, sales teams, on-boarding, to support code-of-conduct policies to set a standard for employees, universities/college groups, school staff, customer service staff, dining etiquette programs for youth through adult, and actors preparing for audition/roles.


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© 2023 Rosalinda Oropeza Randall

Etiquette tips are general and serve as perspective and options. Every situation is unique. 

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