Law Between the Sheets: Tradeshow Etiquette Part II
In March of 2014, I had the pleasure of writing an article for XBIZ titled “Tradeshow Etiquette.” That article can be found online or in the March 2014 print edition of XBIZ World magazine.
I was flattered by the amount of positive feedback received from that article and I am equally flattered that XBIZ asked me to write this follow-up article. So after a decade of attending tradeshows as an attendee, presenter and sponsor, I am proud to present “Tradeshow Etiquette Part II.”
In the original “Tradeshow Etiquette” article, I focused on the importance of having appropriate business cards, staying away from overindulgence, exiting the “comfort zone,” being cautious with “flashy rookies,” and scheduling meetings. The purpose of this article is to expand upon my initial suggestions.
The suggestions contained in this follow-up article are in no particular order. While some of the suggestions in this article may seem obvious enough, I’m writing about them because not everyone has gotten the message.
Clean Yourself Up
People notice how you dress and are well aware of your personal hygiene. Showing up to your first meeting of the day or taking the podium at a presentation looking like you just rolled out of bed or spent the last three years of your life living on the streets is unprofessional and may kill your first impression. Your first interaction with a person may be the most important interaction with any business prospect.
There are countless studies that conclude through psychological research that you only make one first impression. A recent article concluded that when you first meet a person, he/she makes a judgment about you in approximately four seconds, and his/her judgment is finalized largely within thirty seconds of the initial contact.
Do not interact with a prospective business connection until you have dressed appropriately and cleaned yourself up (including, shower, mouthwash, and deodorant). Most people won’t tell you when they are repulsed by your lack of personal hygiene but it makes you far less professionally desirable. On a side note, avoid the chewing gum (most people find watching another person chew gum in a professional setting distracting and rude).
I’ve noticed over the course of attending dozens of tradeshows that when it comes to tradeshows, there is no shortage of drama queens and kings. More notably is that the so called members of the drama royal family tend to never change; specifically, I’ve noticed that the same parties always seem to be at the center of drama. Much of the drama stems from overindulgence and personal relationships (I touched on both of these subjects in the original “Tradeshow Etiquette” article). Personal drama is most certainly not limited to adult industry tradeshows but the lesson to be learned is that tradeshows are short and time should be spent wisely. Engaging in drama or spending any energy being kept up to date on the latest gossip won’t be very useful from a professional standpoint.
Pick Up The Tab
Traveling is expensive. Between the costs of airfare, lodging, badges, food and personal expenditures, it’s amazing how quickly a single tradeshow can cost thousands of dollars for each attendee. However, just because trade shows aren’t cheap doesn’t mean that you should be. There are far too many show attendees that are well known for mooching and not ever offering to pick up the check.
The last thing that you want to be known as, is a mooch or a cheapskate; it is unflattering and can come across offensive. If someone invites you out to dinner or for a drink, always offer to pick up the tab. Don’t be that guy or girl that disappears every time a check hits the table. Don’t be afraid to pick up the tab from time-to-time for show attendees hanging around the bar that you’ve never met before; you would be amazed how many business connections this practice can lead to.
Size Doesn’t Matter
When it comes to tradeshows, almost all attendees at some point or another discuss the size of the tradeshow or number of attendees. MojoHost’s Brad Mitchell told me many years ago that a show is always what you make out of it and that you shouldn’t focus on the number of attendees.
Everyone always wants to see a large turnout at every single tradeshow, but if you spend your time at the show worrying about quantity over quality, golden opportunities may fly right past you. A single new connection at a tradeshow can lead to endless business possibilities, so don’t waste time worrying about how many people checked in.
The Cellphone Conundrum
The fact is, we all live in a cellphone and personal electronic device ruled world. There is no escaping the fact that most people consider a cellphone an organ as vital as a kidney. That being said, it is discourteous and rude to attend a meeting and spend most of your time repeat- edly checking your cellphone.
The solution is simple, when you are engaging in face-to-face time or attending a scheduled meeting at a tradeshow, turn your cellphone off for the 30-60 minute meeting. If you have an emergency, excuse yourself and tend to your personal affairs in private. Human beings can be inherently selfish and if you are sitting in a meeting with somebody else who has set time aside for you, give that person the courtesy of your full attention.
Always remember this principle, your time is not worth any more than the time of the person you are meeting with. Also, don’t ever take a phone call while attending or presenting on a panel or seminar. A few months ago, I was shocked to see a panelist answer his cellphone during a presentation and while another panelist was addressing the audience. The image of this particular individual answering his phone as a panelist is how I will forever remember that individual.
It is an undeniable fact that a huge number of business connections start at the hotel bar and in various other social settings while attending a trade show. You may be frequently engaged in a conversation with one person or a small group of people when another person joins the conversation because he or she knows someone who you were speaking with. Always take a second to make sure everyone in the conversation is acquainted; stop and properly introduce everyone.
Don’t be that person who never bothers to assist people in introductions. Remember that you are attending a tradeshow and its very purpose is to facilitate new contacts. Separately, if for some reason you forget someone’s name, politely tell the person that you’ve forgotten his or her name.
Everyone is different and has different feelings regarding their personal space and physical interactions with other human beings. I can’t count the number of times that I have witnessed someone with a horrified look on their face when a total stranger kisses them on the cheek, gives them a hug, or makes some other unwanted physical contact.
First introductions and greetings can be made with handshakes, fist pumps (very common for he bacteria conscious) or no physical contact at all; not everyone wants to be touched. Just because you see one person kiss another person as a greeting doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to do it too. Touching people in a way that they don’t want to be touched can be very offensive and can destroy any chance of a future business relationship.
Even though I already mentioned it in my first “Tradeshow Etiquette” article, please don’t forget to use common sense. I am still amazed by how many instances of arrests and physical altercations occur at tradeshows. A tradeshow is not a free pass to re-live the mistakes you made or didn’t make in your adolescent years.
Finally, don’t be afraid to call out an acquaintance who may be acting inappropriately. That person may be mad at you at that moment for pointing out bad behavior, but the next morning when that person wakes up in a hotel room instead of a jail cell, you’ll be getting thanked.
Thanks for reading and stay on the lookout for “Tradeshow Etiquette Part III” in the future.
This article does not constitute legal or tax advice and is provided for your information only and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with legal advisors in your own jurisdiction. It may not be current as the laws in this area change frequently. Transmission of the information contained in this article is not intended to create, and the receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver.
Corey D. Silverstein is the managing and founding member of the Law Offices of Corey D. Silverstein P.C., which focuses on representing all areas of the adult industry and his clientele includes hosting companies, affiliate programs, content producers, processing companies, website owners and performers, just to name a few. Silverstein can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; his site, MyAdultAttorney.com; or by telephone at (248) 290-0655.