1. Do: Research a show carefully before you decide to exhibit. Does this show attract a large number of people from your target audience? Tradeshow participation takes a lot of time, energy and resources. You don’t want to spend them on folks who are unlikely ever to do business with you.

2. Don’t: Be afraid to ask questions. Show organizers have all kinds of information that new exhibitors would benefit from knowing. Ask about attendee demographics, exhibitor’s requirements, and what assistance you can expect from the show’s staff.

3. Do: Start planning early. Regular tradeshow exhibitors routinely start planning their appearances twelve to eighteen months in advance.

4. Don’t: Pass up the chance to visit other industry events before you exhibit for the first time. Make note of what exhibitors worked for you and what turned you off. What did you find to be effective? Can you incorporate those items into your own exhibit?

5. Do: Make a list of goals and objectives for the show. This list should be very specific. Do you want to generate $X in new sales, start a certain number of new business relationships, or spread the word about a new service offering you’re introducing to the market?

6. Don’t: Get sidetracked by what everyone else is doing – or by what people tell you you ‘have’ to do at a tradeshow. You’re at the show to reinforce your expert identity and achieve your goals and objectives. Anything else is off-target.

7. Do: Be open to creative and new ways of presenting your services. Tradeshow attendees see hundreds of exhibits in the course of one day. You need to be unique and engaging for your display to be memorable.

8. Don’t: Be afraid to be enthusiastic about your services. If you’re genuinely jazzed up about what you do, attendees will sense that. Enthusiasm is contagious — and more importantly, it sells!

9. Do: Learn the 80/20 rule and take it to heart. The best exhibitors are those who listen 80% of the time and talk 20%. Focusing on attendees’ wants and needs is a surefire route to success.

10. Don’t: “Throw Up” on attendees. This very common practice occurs when nervous exhibitors can’t stop talking, and keep up a constant barrage of facts, figures, and sales spiel. Attendees are quickly turned off by this, and your chance to form a profitable new business relationship walks away.

11. Do: Remember you’re on display. What you’re selling at a tradeshow is, primarily, first impressions. Be professional, well-dressed, and mannerly at all times. You never know who’s watching.

12. Don’t: Eat, drink, or chat on your cell phone on the show floor. When you need refreshment or a break, leave your exhibit booth. Remember, the eyes of the public are on you at all times, so you’ll want to conduct yourself well.

13. Do: Be realistic. Tradeshows are long events. You’re on the floor for anywhere from ten to twelve hours at a go, often several days in a row. This is a lot for any one person to do on their own, and most Nichepreneuers are solo operations. Ask for help. Recruit friends to work the show with you. If nothing else, they can spell you while you grab a quick bite to eat.