Trade shows can be great right? They can help you network, bring in customers, find investors and more, but quite often the experience becomes an exercise in futility. Make sure your staff is on point and ready to hustle on your next event.

  1. Trade shows are code for a viable excuse to be cut-free of the office.
  2. You’ve been in the business for 15+ years. It’s always the same people at the show. It’s a great time to catch up with old colleagues and old clients. (Look for other job opportunities . . . gossip).
  3. Booth schedules are just a formality for your co-workers who don’t know anyone at the show. Handing out brochures will give them a sense of purpose.
  4. Working the booth is like jury duty: If you are not smart enough to get out of it, you deserve to be mind-numbingly bored.
  5. It’s ridiculous to think that anyone would expect you to adhere to the schedule, let alone show up for set-up and stay for tear-down. They should know you are busy and need to leave early the last day. Bringing all your luggage to the booth is not the eyesore that everyone claims (let alone an obstacle to step over).
  6. Your co-workers should be more thankful that you are the only one who truly understands Mr. Lundergard’s idiosyncrasies and his taste in strip clubs and spicy restaurants. They should cut you some slack if you are late and hung-over the following morning.
  7. No one else has stepped up. For over 15 years, it has always been an unspoken expectation that you would keep the difficult customers entertained and loyal to your company.
  8. Trade shows are expensive—you can’t be expected to hold your best customers to a budget.
  9. Everyone knows trade shows are not for generating new leads. They are always unorganized and chaotic so it’s best for your own sanity to just go with the flow.
  10. Only bean counters actually believe that ROI can be measured.
  11. Wearing your name badge and handing out business cards are the mark of an amateur—everyone should know your face.
  12. You have your own tried and true method of note taking. When you get back to the office and after your vacation—when the dust settles—you will get straight to your notes.
  13. If asked about new leads when you get back to the office, you can always act stunned that once again the incompetent trade show coordinators never showed you how to use the lead machine.

Thanks to Gus Correa for this list of bad behaviors at trade shows that are all too common.