A lot goes into planning a trade show event, so you certainly don’t want to waste the opportunity. No company intends to do this, but there are times when things unfold differently than expected. As you prepare for an upcoming trade show, it’s important to have your ducks in a row. Your exhibit and the people running it represent the quality, tone, and professionalism of your brand. Be proud of what you have to offer!

Here are 10 vital do’s and don’ts when preparing for a trade show.


  1. Set clear objectives. Don’t jump into the big day without knowing what you want to achieve. Are you looking to build relationships? Grow your contact list? Generate more sales? Once you know your objectives, you can establish what metrics mean success and how you plan to measure ROI.
  1. Choose a good location. It’s hard to get prime spots, but make an effort anyway. Getting your name on a list can put you ahead for next year. Of the spots available, choose one that is in the front and will receive good foot traffic.
  1. Train your booth staff. Your staff should be well-versed on your products and the goals you want to reach. They should also know how to operate whatever technology is in the booth such as touchscreens and virtual reality headsets.
  1. Smile and be friendly. Your trade show booth staff should be friendly and approachable. Reinforce professional behavior, positive body language, and genuine smiles. Choosing the right people will make this task easier. Also, require your staff to wear badges or name tags.
  1. Promote the event on social media. Let your customers know that you’ll be attending the trade show and what they can expect by visiting you. It helps to offer an incentive or promotional item to encourage people to visit you. Use hashtags to promote your posts, including any from the trade show itself.


  1. Sign up for shows out of obligation. Depending on your industry, there are many great trade shows to attend. If you’ve been going to the same one for years, try something new. This way, you can open yourself up to new audiences and build a stronger network.
  1. Collect business cards in a fishbowl. This is an outdated way to gather lead information. Instead, make things more personal by adding contact info to an app and truly learning about each person.
  1. Bad mouth the competition. Don’t view other companies as your enemies-learn from them. Knowing the competition allows you to offer a better product that is truly one of a kind. Plus, belittling others shows insecurity.
  1. Forget to follow up with leads. Before attending the event, have a follow up strategy in place. To ensure it’s effective, you’ll need to collect communication preferences from your leads and be prepared to reach out soon after the show.
  1. Overwhelm prospects. Avoid throwing too much at your visitors at once. Be accessible and leave out informational materials such as brochures and business cards. This is why interactive technology is so important; it allows people to interact with brands on their own terms.

Make the most of your trade shows by keeping these 10 do’s and don’ts in mind.