You're at the show, the trade show booth looks great, the staff seems energetic and eager to shake up some new business, and here comes the traffic... what now? Over the years I've learned that typically one or two members of the staff will be tied up with pre-booked meetings, while at least one person stands in front of the booth to engage new customers, rotating at times to accommodate meetings/schedules but at the end of the day, there's always a "fish net" as I've grown to call it. The interesting part is that every person treats this role differently. Some are aggressive, smiling and speaking out to potential customers as they walk by the stand. Others are passive, avoiding eye contact so that customers can judge the potential for business themselves.
My theory on this process is a bit of a catch-22, because although I'm not a huge fan of being pushy and overly aggressive, I do in fact believe that a forward momentum in terms of stirring up energy is required in order to grab attention. I have to remind myself, this is a trade show, I've paid a lot of money to be here, and although my graphic backdrop has a clear and concise message (if designed correctly) I can't just sit back and rely on my 10x10 booth to do all the work for me! I've learned that sometimes a simple "Hi there, are you familiar with our company" - or - "Hi, can I show you something really cool?" will engage your audience and open doors that would normally have not been opened.
The biggest worry, profiling customers and pre-judging, and we've all done that. "They don't look like buyers," so I just don't bother. "His shoes or suit look unprofessional, they must not be worth talking to," wrong. Over the years I've profiled plenty of potential relationships, only to find my competitors working with them, or to years later be introduced to them at a trade event where I learned of their capacity to grow my business.
My suggestion, harness the power of the smile, carry an uplifted and positive attitude from start to end, and engage your potential customers regardless of any prejudice, remembering that you have invested a lot of time, energy and effort to attend this trade show. Your trade show booth should strike an interest, the rest is up to you to engage potential customers and draw from that energy!