Lessons Learned from My First Trade Show

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Lessons Learned from My First Trade Show

By Kellie Dietrich

I exhibited for The Communication Solutions Group at my first trade show, the PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference, attended by superintendents and school board members. This multi-day conference is a joint effort between PASA (Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators and PSBA (Pennsylvania School Board Association), held at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.

Here are some key takeaways as an exhibitor:

Give Attendees Your Full Attention

The first thing Leza Raffel, president of The Communication Solutions Group, did when setting up the booth was remove the chairs. Standing up and being on the same eye level as others increases conversation between attendees and exhibitors. People are more inclined to talk to you when they can see your face and eye contact has been made.

We were also sure to set up the booth in an engaging way, displaying bright and colorful signs and examples of our work. We avoided eating at the booth and kept our tables organized.

Initiate the Conversation – Talk about Them

At first I was hesitant to start up conversations with superintendents and board members, but quickly got the hang out. People love talking about themselves, so by asking a specific question such as “How do you handle your school district’s good and bad news?” attendees would go into detail about the problems their districts face.

Their anecdotes gave Leza and me more insight on how we could help them. Many districts hoped to recapture students in charter schools and inform the public about teacher contract negotiations while others wanted to spread the word on district initiatives with annual reports or newsletters.

We also brought binders filled with many samples, so if school districts had new superintendents who were unfamiliar with our work, we could show them examples of how we helped their district in the past.

Collect Leads through Contact Information

Although Leza and I gave many of our handouts and business cards to attendees, it does not guarantee that they will reach out to us. That is why we collected their business cards to enter them into our raffle.

After each person left our booth, we would write notes on the back of their card, so we knew how interested they were in Communication Solutions. By noting what specific services they were seeking, it helped when we followed up with them after the conference ended.

At the end of each day, I was tired from giving it my all, but was happy to meet a lot of great people that we could help in the future. It was great to see our current clients and meet potential new ones.

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