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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Get to know people at trade shows


Last updated 3/25/2019 at 12:50pm

If anyone has attended a trade show in San Diego and watched television in their off hours, they may have seen humorous commercials for King Stahlman Bail Bonds, whose slogan is: “It’s better to know me and not need me than to need me and not know me.” At trade shows, the goal is to stay out of supplier trouble rather than legal trouble, but King Stahlman’s slogan is still applicable.

Trade shows allow the visitor to know the vendor and may also allow the vendor to build a relationship with the visitor. Use these tips for visiting a trade show.

Vendor booth giveaways don’t necessarily mean pens, coffee mugs, calendars or chocolate. In many cases, vendors give away brochures and business cards, which can actually be more of a networking tool than the other giveaways. Viewing the business cards first creates the opportunity to comment “so you’re out of . . .” Although a vendor’s primary objective is to provide a product or service description, such a conversation creates more memorable interaction.

A related aspect is that international vendors may recognize a customer’s skills if they can convert English system measurements to metric measurements on the spot. The phrase “I live about 15 miles – about 25 kilometers – from here” shows a recognition of their measurements while showing their ability not only to respect their numerical culture but also to translate. Talking centigrade during weather discussions also has this effect although sometimes omitting the Fahrenheit number is better.

The other giveaways can also be used to create enhanced conversation. If someone is visiting a trade show a couple of time zones east of where they live, noting that chocolate in the morning helps them stay awake for a conference which began at 6 a.m. their time allows for a more personal conversation than a pure business interaction. Some of the giveaways are toys, and noting the ages of any children or grandchildren also makes the customer more personal to the vendor, who may discuss their own family and enhance that relationship between potential vendor and potential customer.

Even if someone has no plans to purchase a product or service at the current year’s trade show, meeting the vendors gives the customer options for future years. If the customer knows them and don’t need them, they eliminate the future risk of needing them and not knowing them.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at


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