7 Types of People You Meet When You Exhibit at a Trade Show

Part of the excitement of attending a trade show is being able to meet new people and “people watch.” It’s interesting to see how different individuals interact with you and the other vendors. There is a lot that one can learn from meeting these different types of people and it can help make you a better exhibitor.

These are the 7 types of people you meet when you exhibit at a trade show.

  • Freebie Fanatic: You’ll be able to spot this person right away, they stop at almost every table and try to take as many promotional items as possible (sometimes without wanting to speak with exhibitors). There is nothing wrong with this person, after all, most of us like free stuff. However, the key is to engage with them and to use promotional items to start conversations. If someone comes over to get free stuff, make sure you get something in exchange, whether it be a couple of minutes of their time or get their business card. Try to engage with them immediately and ask them questions! We would recommend having smaller promotional items (like pens and cozies) in the front and keep your nicer, more expensive promotional items in a table behind you, allowing you to pass them out to your qualified leads.
  • The Expert: It is possible that you’ll meet people that are more knowledgeable and have been doing this for many years. They’ll ask intellectual questions and will really try to understand you products or services. Make sure to brush up on all of your product information so that you aren’t stumped if they ask in depth questions. If you don’t know how to answer something, take their info and let them know you’ll ask someone and will get back with them. These are great customers to learn from. They’ll challenge you and will allow you to see what else you need to learn.
  • The Newbie: There will always be first time attendees at a trade show. The newbie will be excited to talk to new people but might also be nervous and a bit overwhelmed. They might now know what questions to ask when they stop at your booth. Help them by guiding the conversation, get them talking about their company and what they do. Don’t just brush them off because they are new, they might be more open minded than those that have been attending trade shows for a long time!
  • The Salesperson: Doesn’t matter where they go, the sales person will do what they do best- they will be trying to sell you something (even if they’re just attending). Although it can be a bit irritating when you’re trying to tell them about your own product, listen to how they are selling their product, company, services, etc. to you. Analyze their tone and approach-you could either pick up some tips or you can learn what not to do! 
  • The “All About me:” Me, me, me. We all know those types of people. They’d tell you their life story if they could! It’s ok to show interest, however, try to keep it short. Your time is valuable and if they seem like they might not be a good fit for your services, they might be taking your time away from other clients that would be interested in talking to you. If you don’t know how to get them to leave, simply say, “Can I have your business card? It was great talking to you, we’ll keep in touch” (or something along those lines). These are phases people say when they are about to leave. Hopefully they take the hint! 
  • The Social Media Master: This person, if you got along, will add you on twitter and LinkedIn by the end of the day, if not at the trade show. They are great at making connections online and documenting their experiences.  If you meet someone like this, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with them through social media. If they are active on social media, they might have a large following which could potentially help you get noticed too. 
  • Ideal Client: There’s no guarantee that every person you speak with will be a potential client. Although you might appreciate meeting the social media master or the expert, it is much better to finally meet that perfect, ideal client. You’ll know you met them when they ask all the right questions, have told you that they have an immediate need for it, and are interested in speaking with you again. There will be a few throughout the day and you should follow up with them as soon as possible and open the gates of communication right away. 

There is something to learn from these 7 types of people you meet when you exhibit at a trade show. They might not purchase from you and you might not see them again, but they are still worth interacting with to learn from them!



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