Understanding International Trade Show Booth Etiquette
Understanding international business etiquette is vital to the success of your trade show booth. These helpful international etiquette tips can help you seal the deal without offending anyone at your next trade show booth.
Respect Visitors' Status
International businesses don't send lower-level employees to represent them internationally. If a company has flown a representative into Washington DC or Los Angeles from halfway around the world, you can be sure that person has the power to make crucial decisions. Respect his or her status. Introduce any international visitors to the person from your company who has the most seniority and the most freedom to close a deal. Be sure you introduce any visitors to your trade show booth by both their name and their title, and do the same when introducing your own team.
Be Aware Of Your Body Language And Theirs
Trade show booth staff members who look unapproachable aren't going to win over any international customers. On the other hand, being too casual can be disconcerting or even offensive to some cultures. Watch their gestures and match them when possible.
If someone keeps a discreet distance of one to two feet between their body and yours, don't try to breach it. Does the person bow to you or offer a hand? Don't ever force someone to shake your hand. Also be aware that too much eye contact can be considered invasive in some cultures. Making eye contact is crucial, but don't maintain contact for too long if the person you're talking to seems uncomfortable. Any time an international guest enters your trade show booth area, stand to greet them. Some cultures take offense if a person is greeted by someone who remains seated.
Don't Use Slang Or Metaphors
While metaphors or analogies can paint a clear picture for anyone who speaks English as their first language, they really don't translate properly. Even if an international visitor seems to speak English fluently when they approach your trade show booth, be aware that they've probably learned a formal, business version of the language that doesn't use colorful phrases or slang.
Formal English is best in any stand, but it becomes crucial when you're talking to international visitors. If you mean yes, say so; many international business men and women will be offended if you say, "Yeah," as it doesn't convey the proper respect for them or their company. Formal English conveys dignity, respect, and the proper gravity of a business relationship.
Observe Social Niceties At Your Trade Show Booth
In some cultures, it is rude to immediately begin 'talking shop.' Don't launch into a sales pitch the minute an international visitor walks into your trade show booth. A polite inquiry into how they are enjoying their stay or what their opinion of a conference speaker is will personalize the relationship. Immediately starting a business conversation without exchanging pleasantries will seem gauche to some executives.
If you feel like you need to brush up on cultural etiquette before you work at your next trade show booth, order one of the many books available on the market. They will give you valuable advice for properly engaging customers from anywhere in the world.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Harmen writes for Atlantic Exhibits, providers of Washington DC trade show booth guidance and outstanding deals. When you're ready to purchase your next trade show booth, Washington DC's preferred source is Atlantic Exhibits.