Making the Right Impression at your Show Exhibit
Trade show exhibitors normally have many representatives working their booth at industry trade shows. They are aware of the fact that their behavior and attitude can have an impact on the successful representation of their company and its future. What they may not be aware of is the fact that it can also have an important impact on potential future employees and customers. How so you might ask?
For many years trade shows have opened their doors to students, allowing young people to take field trips from area institutions to attend an educational forum and visit the show floor. In some cases, these students may have already decided to pursue a career in graphic communications. In other cases, they are still exploring options and future career paths. In either case, they are going to draw their views of the industry by the experiences they have regarding it.
I am aware of many instances where personnel virtually ignore students who come to their booth. In worst cases, they are treated rudely or abusively by exhibitors. What an awful impression they will have because of this kind of treatment! Here is what Melissa DiVietri, a young industry professional, relates about her experience:
“During high school, we would take a bus with our entire GC department from Michigan. Upon arrival, students were new to networking, and had limited experience speaking with professionals. We were awed by the machines and equipment. But many of the exhibitors were hesitant to speak with us because we weren’t customers, or not able to buy. I attended the Print show for 11 years, from student to career. I continued to attend to speak with companies I was interested in working with. I felt turned off by many of the exhibitors, but I grew the confidence to prove my worth entering the industry. My recommendation would be to open your arms and encourage students to jump into learning about the equipment, what the company has to offer, and if any internships would be available.”
It is time that we all — collectively and as a standard method of operation — start viewing these young people as what they really are: future employees and customers that are a key to our success. Instead of looking at them as a way to get rid of excess samples or literature, or even as a nuisance, take a different approach. Spend some time talking with them, finding out what their future goals are, and recruiting them into our great industry. Perhaps we should try helping our cause, instead of making it more difficult.
Companies across our industry — both on the service provider side and on the vendor side — have one constantly expressed issue. They are wondering where they are going to get new workers to replace retiring and departing employees. Today, more than ever, we are competing against many other industries to attract young people into a career in graphics.
So, the next time you have an opportunity to talk with a young person, are you going to ignore them or treat them poorly? Or, are you going to encourage them to join the industry and extoll some of the virtues of the field in which you have made your own career? You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution. I encourage the latter.