Working with companies on their Trade Show and Expo presence has shown me how many people are lacking in the art of engagement. Exhibiting is like Speed Dating. If you are lucky you have about 90 seconds to convert them from slightly interested to the second date (or qualified prospect in business parlance). Here are the 5 keys to engaging with strangers at your next show:

1 Smile

It seems obvious but many people on stands or even in retail or 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 on your face. 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 are speed dating, a smile may attract your prospect but at the vey 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 interested about 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 our 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
  • “How would your business cope with a full system failure?” – IT Offsite backup services

4 Have a Crowd

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

5 Be the Host

Check on their needs while 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 and 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 a date when they are speed dating at the show. It may be to find out about certain products or services, it may be to discover something new or it could just be to get a bargain. Whatever it is, use these 5 keys to help engage and be the one to help the visitor achieve their goal.

Author's Bio: 

Warwick Merry is the Get More Guy : a motivational speaker and trade show specialist. He ignites an inexhaustible passion to Get More out of life. Sign up for his Get More Goer: weekly thought of inspiration.
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