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Trade Show Survival Tips

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Trade shows have been an important part of lead generation for many businesses over the years. In 2020 trade shows took a hit, but they are coming back! Veloci MTM has been a part of dozens of trade shows from the infamous SEMA to the down-to-earth Carlisle shows. Here are some of our pro tips for getting back into trade shows, whether you’re a show rookie or a vet!



Know your audience – Every show has a unique audience. Your goal for the show may vary depending on the group of people attending. For example, you would prepare differently for an industrial distributor trade show than you would an end-user audience.
Overpack – This one might kill your arms during travel, but you certainly won’t regret bringing extra everything! You never know when you will need an extra dress shirt, a stack of business cards, or a computer charger.
Scout – Not all trade shows will allow you to scout the location beforehand, so this tip isn’t always an option. However, if you can scout the show, make sure to take a walk around the premises. See what booths are near yours, where people are located that you’ll want to speak with, where the bathrooms and food are located, etc. This will save you time in figuring those things out on the first day of the show.
Repeat names – This one is not news, but worth mentioning! Making someone feel remembered is important. Repeating someone’s name out loud who you just met will reassure them that you are paying attention, not to mention it will help you recall the name more easily later.
Have giveaways – If you are booth bound, having giveaways, handouts, stickers, etc. can help pull people into your booth. People love FREE! Having an item to hand a person can serve as an ice breaker and an attention-getter.

Take notes – TAKE NOTES. Even if you only have 15 seconds to take notes in between conversations, do it! You’ll improve your recall and have more specific details on a single conversation you had in a day where you may talk to 100 people.

Bring extra shoes – This one is for the pros. Fatigue is a real issue in the trade show world. If you’ve ever worked a 16-hour show you can probably recall the foot, leg, and back pain that comes with it. Bringing an extra pair of shoes that you can swap out halfway through the day gives your feet a fresh feel. Not only is it great for hygiene, but it also reallocates the pressure to new areas of your feet, minimizing the fatigue.

Drink water – Another obvious one, but not always followed. Staying hydrated will keep you mentally sharp and physically able during trade show season.

Pack snacks – We have all been at a show that’s so successful that all of the sudden the day is over and you haven’t eaten a thing. Although you may have had a successful show, you probably don’t feel so good. Pack yourself small, quick snacks that you can munch on in between conversations.

Recap – at the end of the day, read through your notes one more time. Take a moment to add more notes that you didn’t have time to take during the day. It’s easy to mentally check out after the show ends each night but take another 10 minutes to sort through your business cards and notes to keep everything top of mind.

Enjoy – Have fun! Trade shows can be mentally and physically draining. You’re most likely away from home, outside of your comfort zone, and working long hours. Keep the positive things in mind! Enjoy the opportunity a show gives you to meet new people, expand your network, learn, and grow!

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