The lump in your throat makes speaking difficult. Your palms are sweaty, and you’re worried about how you look. What if you say the wrong thing? What if the other person can’t stand you?

Although it sounds like a first date, this scenario frequently takes place somewhere you might not expect, and in a highly professional setting: trade shows. In many ways, first dates and trade shows are amazingly similar. You may be all grown up and wearing a business suit now, but chances are some of the feelings you experience at trade shows will bring back memories.

You have a terrible case of nerves
Prepare all you want, but you’re still a human being heading into an unknown world. Even if you’re an old pro at trade shows, each one is unique. Different people, different setting, different dynamics.

It’s awkward
Did you say too much? Did you not say enough? Bumping into someone you sort of know at a trade show can be incredibly awkward. You want to engage them and sell them on your brand, but you don’t want to hold them up or seem too eager. Do you give them a business card? Do you ask if you can call them later? Awkward.

You’re afraid of making a bad impression
What if your exhibit isn’t right? What if other people have bigger, better ones? Your display represents the first — and often, only — impression of you that most trade show attendees will get.

At any given trade show, maybe half the exhibits look professional, put together and brand-consistent. The others, not so much. To get over your fear of making a bad first impression, work with professionals like those at Infinity Exhibits.

It’s just not a good match
Sometimes, the people staffing your booth aren’t a good fit. Companies don’t always send their “A team” to trade shows. The results can be devastating to your image when the people staffing your trade show booth appear unfriendly, unengaged and downright bored.

You’re investing a lot to be at a trade show. Get your executives or top sellers there to ensure that your investment pays off.

You don’t know if there will be a second date
When you call people you’ve met at the show, will they remember you? Will they even take your call? To get past this fear, always make a good impression. Dress the part, act enthusiastic, know your stuff and be confident. When you call, mention something personal from your chat at the show.

Treat every trade show like a first date
Trade shows may feel like awkward first dates, but you can ace them. Be confident without being cocky. Look good and be prepared. Channel that nervousness into hard work and responsiveness, and you’ll win every time.

Carlos A. Espitia

Chief Marketing Strategist at CAE Marketing & Consulting, Inc.
Carlos is a digital marketing consultant with 18 years of proven internet marketing experience, and a self-proclaimed "data nerd". His digital marketing agency, CAE Marketing & Consulting focuses on SEO & PPC management, as well as conversion rate optimization. He has worked as a marketing consultant for small and large businesses alike.
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