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January 20th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Mostly Tink On Trade Show Etiquette

This was originally written by Tink Boord-Dill and has been edited by myself and others “over the years”

We all understand that it tends to tromp on the toes of those who may have an exeragated opinion about the importance of Pattern Authors to the Yarn Business.

Wheat always suggests the first thing you have to do as “advance mental prep” is knock that chip off your shoulder about how “mistreated and misunderstood” the Crochet Pattern Authoring community is. It really is not so. On the other hand the “attitude” of far to many who think they are Professionals is often a deal killer. Those who publish need no prima donas

Tink or Wheat usually make this post just before a major wholesale to the trade show and other times as needed. It is posted in groups like: DesignerBiz and TNNA-Designers

The information is aimed at those folks who may be attending as designers or observers, rather than as purchasing retail members, but it does have some useful info for everybody. ;-)

As always, these are our own views…we all need to make the decisions that are best for our own businesses… ;-)
and then accept the consequences good or bad as part of the learning experience.

ATTENDING A TRADE SHOW AS AN OBSERVER/NON BUYER

Let me start by saying that Trade Show Etiquette can become a heated topic. ;-) These comments are based on my experiences and observations, and I will admit to being a bit hard nosed on the subject…I don’t mean to offend anyone…many of these comments are based on the fact that I, myself, did not understand a lot of the subtleties
when I first started exhibiting. My goal here is to minimize the chances of a newbie committing a faux pas.

Exhibitors have looong memories regarding inappropriate Trade Show behavior (probably not fair, but a reality smile). You don’t want to be remembered for sticking your foot in it, you want to be remembered for your professionalism…

ALWAYS REMEMBER – The Exhibitor is here to SELL not BUY –

Also, a brief reminder, if you have attended a Trade Show in the past as a buyer…the circumstances for Observing and/or Exhibiting are radically different, so tailor your behavior accordingly.

First off : Please remember that ATTENDING a Trade Show is NOT a substitute for EXHIBITING…if you want to gain customers, then put up your $$ and EXHIBIT!

Now that we have that out of the way…VBG

Do take your business cards and hand them out in appropriate situations

Have your business cards ready, but wait for a signal from the other person that they are interested in getting one…

Don’t take your product(s) and expect to distribute them/hand them out… if you talk to a distributor/shop owner/whatever, get their business card and send your materials AFTER the Trade Show with a follow-up letter

Be aware that exhibitors are at trade shows for several important reasons 1)to gain industry credibility 2) to network 3) to make sales/develop a shop list…they are investing many $$$ and MUCH time which may not/probably will not be recouped by show sales and they have a limited time to accomplish the above listed goals.

If you see an exhibitor talking with someone else, don’t interrupt them…you don’t know whether this is someone on that exhibitor”s Gotta Talk To list…

If you are talking with an exhibitor and a shop owner comes up, break off the conversation immediately and remove yourself (no apology is needed)…sales are important… EVEN if there are other Sales people in the booth – it may well be that the Buyer who just walked in is of special significance to the person you are speaking with. So Walk Away graciously.

If you are talking with an exhibitor and someone else comes up (not a shop owner), take your cue from the exhibitor…don’t automatically assume that you are invited to join in the conversation…

Be aware that single booths are VERY small, don’t block others from entering, and try not to block the sightlines from the aisle.

Some exhibitors feel strongly against giving out sales materials to people other than potential customers…be aware of this and tread carefully…

Generally, Cameras and photographing are not allowed at the shows. This includes camera phones!
TNNA is quite protetive of its members so be aware that this type of discourtesy can cost you a great deal. Exhibitors talk among themselves.

HOW TO DRESS –

Wear comfortable shoes… nice looking shoes if you can manage it, if not, go comfortable, folks will understand..Wear good presentable clothes…think of this as a 3- 4 day long job interview…there are no Fashion Police but you are trying to sell yourself as a professional… Artistic is OK, especially if you are a designer…there are many ways
to do this, even on a limited budget. BTW, Casual Friday is TOO casual if you are selling yourself as a Designer. ;-)

WEAR SOMETHING YOU DESIGNED AND MADE at your top layer

Wear layers…the Convention Halls are very big and it can be difficult to adjust the temperature…
Remove the unoriginal layers as needed and replace with your original.

Hint: If you use an ID holder that hangs from your neck (rather than pins on) you can stash business cards in it.

Keep a pen and paper handy, you’ll want to take notes…and I can tell you without fear of being wrong, you’ll never remember everything you see/observe!

You will be walking miles and miles so try to find a way to carry your stuff as comfortably as possible…sometimes wheeled carts are allowed, and in other venues they are not. ;-(

OUTSIDE OF THE CONVENTION HALL

As much networking goes on outside of the Convention Hall as inside, so be aware of this when traveling on elevators, on shuttles, and in lobbies.

Many times, you may be with folks who are making dinner plans…don’t expect to be invited, and don’t be offended if you aren’t…lots of times, these plans are made months in advance and the purpose may be to have a confidential discussion… these shows are often the ONLY time we get to meet face to face with others in the industry and the
discussion time is important. I have various business cohorts, but we are not joined at the hip during market…1) we have separate businesses and strategies 2) by splitting up for the networking, we can optimize the opportunities available within the limited time constraints…

SOME FINAL THOUGHTS

Approaching companies about their Designer Programs

Remember – they are there to make sales…don’t expect them to drop everything and talk with you about their DP…the reality is, they are doing us a favor by offering product deals…no single designer is going to have an appreciable impact on their product sales….

IN CLOSING

Again, a reminder that these are my opinions/thoughts/observations… no disrespect is meant and I hope that I haven’t offended anyone. These are issues that can be volatile, but which also need to be considered…. and, as always, we all need to make the decisions which are best for ourselves and our businesses…

If I’ve missed something, I hope someone will step in and say so.

Looking forward to hearing your questions, comments, opposing opinions?

Wheat

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If you feel this article will help someone else, please feel free to provide this link:
http://wheatcarr.com/biz/mostly-tink-on-trade-show-etiquette.php

Series topics
What Is A Trade Show
Which shows should the Yarn Indie PA/T attend
What is expected – Dress & Etiquette

Started 2003-01-10
Recent Update: 2012-01-20
© 2003-2013 Wheat M Carr with Tink Boord-Dill

Caveat Auctor: This advise has exactly the value you paid for it. Use your best judgement & Hope for the best

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    These etiquette rules for shows (of any type, not just fiber) should be chiselled in stone. Some folks never had their mothers teach them anything! LOL Thanks for sharing; hope they get read and shared.

    Barbara on January 21st, 2013

 

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