Putting a Human Face on Virtual Trade Shows

There is little that charms us more than a warm smile, and a strong, friendly handshake when we greet someone. Even more so when that someone is a customer, supplier or prospect at a trade show where the show floor is overflowing with smiles and handshakes. But how many of them are truly sincere? To stand out from the crowd, yours must be the most authentic.

But what about virtual events that are remote, and therefore remove the human element? How can you replicate that genuine grin through cyberspace?

Begin by ensuring that your face appears in all aspects of your virtual world participation. People like to know what you look like when they start communicating with you virtually. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to look like George Clooney or Penelope Cruz to take a good headshot! What counts is the way you convey your honesty, integrity and warmth. In fact, people who are too good-looking in photographs can often be a put-off to people. Studies have shown that people naturally trust other individuals who look average, and you feel you can relate to them.

Many times people use headshots that were taken years ago and if you met them in person, you’d hardly recognize them.  Rather than have a friend use a digital camera to take a quick snapshot, invest in a professional headshot, a business portrait using a photographer that knows how to bring out the best in you and knows your image must inspire confidence, but not be over-bearing.
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Tradeshow Exhibiting & Job Interviews – How to Avoid the Red Flags!

A recent Gillette Survey of 500 HR professionals revealed that 84% agree that well-groomed employees climb the corporate ladder faster than those who are not well-groomed.  When it comes to first impressions, 90% of those surveyed place more importance on being well-groomed than even a firm handshake.

Tradeshow exhibiting, and your presence on the show floor, at educational sessions, and networking events, is when those first impressions count the most. How you look sends important visual cues to your prospects and customers about your professionalism, and your confidence.

As a company ambassador, your role should be one of complete and utter professionalism. Does that mean you need a uniform? Not necessarily. However, it does give a unified look to your team, and easily distinguishes you from others, especially in a crowded booth.  Uniforms help visitors easily pick out the company representatives.

No matter what, professionalism, being well-groomed, and proud to be at the show representing your company, is essential.  The role of company ambassador should be viewed as an honor. Leave behind the naysayers who feel shows are a necessary evil, and a waste of time and money.

A USA Today Snapshot® based on the Gillette Survey, featured the biggest red flags for job interviews:

Body odor 90%

Wrinkled, inappropriate or ill-fitting clothing 61%

Sweat stains 54%

Messy hair 49%

Piercings/tattoos 46%

These all aptly apply to your trade show exhibiting. I would also include bad breath in this list.  Very few people have the courage to mention this to your face, so the responsibility is yours. Popping an Altoid in your mouth every few hours, helps guarantee a little “breath freshness.” Plus, peppermint acts as a quick “pick me up” without the side effects of caffeine.

Jeffries in his book “What Up With Your Handshake?” notes that, “whether you’re actively job searching or currently employed, you never know when the next opportunity will present itself.  You can run into a potential employer at the gym (the tradeshow booth) or on your way to the store (a networking event), so it’s really important to look and feel your best at all times.”  Tradeshows and meetings are public forums where you never know who you’ll meet, and what opportunities are on the horizon.

This all adds up to awareness, and just looking your best at all possible times.

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com. Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.

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Do You “Think Different” on the Trade Show Floor? Part 1

Two weeks ago, I offered you a challenge – “how to avoid being invisible on the trade show floor.”  One of the three ways I shared is to “be different.”

This week I was re-reading one of my favorite books, “A Whole New Mind,” by best-selling author, Daniel Pink. In it he claims, “we’re living in a different era, a different age.  An age in which those who “Think Different” will be valued even more than ever.”  He discusses that right-brain thinking (the creative side – think in pictures) is every bit as important now – in some cases more important – than left-brain thinking (the analytical side – think in facts and figures).

Pink further discusses “six senses” or six “right-brain directed aptitudes,” namely, design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning.

Now you might well be asking yourself, “what has all this got to do with exhibiting?” I believe that these six aptitudes should make up your entire presence on the trade show floor – from your booth message to how your people interact with prospects.

In “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design & Delivery,” Garr Reynolds goes into great detail about these concepts. Definitely add this book to your library!
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share a very abridged version, and how these six ideas relate to your exhibiting experience.

1. Design – This concept expresses the need to start with the end in mind.  Based on your exhibiting goals, you need time during your before show preparation, to really think about your key message and your target market. Then, together with your exhibit designer (external or internal – small booth or large booth), take your ideas and make them visual.  If you’re an analytic, get help.  There’s an over-abundance of creative types out there in the marketplace, use their talents to help make you different and stand out from the crowd.

2. Story – If you remember back to your school days of “show and tell” didn’t you love to share your stuff with friends, classmates, teachers, and the like – in fact, anyone who would listen to your story.  Believe it or not, we’re all born storytellers, and “storylisteners.” If you’ve ever been around kids at bedtime know that story time reigns supreme.
Think about how you could take your exhibiting message and turn it into a visual story.  Admittedly, for some products and services, this is easier than others. Once again, seek out the creative help you need.

3. Symphony – This concept is all about “seeing the relationships between relationships.”  In other words, taking an idea and talking about it in a whole new way that people truly relate to, and more importantly, remember.  To better understand this, let me share what I experienced this week.
I’m currently working with Dino, a physical therapist at a local sport’s medicine clinic. During one of the exercises he had me do, he started to explain the muscle structure in “anatomicalese” – a language I’m not conversant in. He then took what he was saying and likened it to tasks a factory worker might do – some that needed more work (larger muscles), and others that needed less effort (smaller muscles). Eureka! I saw the relationships immediately. What Dino had done so skillfully, was to relate one thing to another in a unique way that allowed me to fully understand (and visualize) what he was explaining. This truly was symphony in action.

More next week in Part 2.

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com. Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.

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