What to do and what not to do at an exhibition

So, having attended many exhibitions in recent years; both as a delegate and an exhibitor, I was thinking about how to get the most out of the exhibition experience.

Things to avoid at an exhibition include:


  • General rudeness. Basically if you wouldn’t do it in other circumstances, you probably shouldn’t do it here. Turning your back on someone to talk to someone whom you deem more important makes you look like you have no social skills.
  • Being ‘cliquey’. You have chosen to exhibit. You can’t be selective about who you engage with in this kind of environment. Don’t make assumptions about how useful or otherwise a contact might be. I have literally had referrals I wanted to give to a company but then changed my mind after witnessing their indifference. Recently there was an exhibitor who mistook me for someone else and then immediately turned away on finding out who I actually was. Thanks for that!
  • Sitting behind a desk. There is really no greater way to get the interaction wrong. Being at a different level from your audience, plus having a barrier between you. It also signifies a level of indifference or exclusivity where you should be conveying something far more open and welcoming.
  • Being on a stand but not engaging. You should never eat or use the phone whilst anywhere near your stand. A drink of water or a coffee in your hand is acceptable whilst chatting, but it should never litter the table if you have one. Sitting dining at your exhibition table looks awful.
  • Mobile phones are of course a major distraction as well. I once went to an exhibition specifically looking for a wedding photographer but ruled one out after literally walking right up to their table and standing there for several seconds without them noticing me whilst fiddling with their phone. I did end up finding a good wedding photographer via recommendation though.
  • Saying ‘Can I help you?’ I don’t know; can you? Did I ask for help? Is this your space that I walked in to? No, it isn’t. Never, under any circumstances should you say this at an exhibition.

Any other gimmicks not previously mentioned probably also apply. If you want to be seen as professional … then act professionally. Simples.

It’s all part of putting strategy first

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