How to Develop the Confidence to Represent your Company at a Trade Show

By Anna Gradie, Confidence Coach

Does the idea of standing in front of a trade show booth scare you? Does the thought of interacting with your company’s prospects and clients on the trade show floor make you feel sick to your stomach?

With more confidence, you can say “yes” to the next opportunity and impress your company with your performance.

Research shows that confidence is the belief in your success that stimulates action. It is your willingness to try. And it is a skill you can build using the following science-based tools:

1. Grow your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

EQ is your ability to recognize, understand, and manage your own emotions, as well as recognizing and influencing the emotions of others.

Unlike IQ, which is fixed at age 17, your EQ can be developed and grown over time. By developing your EQ, you will improve your communication skills, leadership, decision-making, and stress management.

Effective communication requires a balance between two EQ competencies: empathy and assertiveness. Having the ability to communicate assertively, while still being empathetic to the needs of your colleagues, clients, and prospects, helps you communicate more confidently.

When you think about ways to increase your assertiveness, have a specific goal in mind. At a trade show, for example, decide what you want to achieve with each interaction. Perhaps you could identify prospect pain points or deepen your relationship with existing clients.

And to boost your empathy, practice your active listening skills by repeating back what someone says in your own words. Listen more than you speak. When you find yourself jumping in to speak, stop, listen, and reflect back what you heard before offering your thoughts.

By growing your EQ, you will have the confidence to succeed at your company’s next trade show.

By growing your EQ, you will have the confidence to succeed at your company’s next trade show.

2. Cultivate Self-Compassion

Do you beat yourself up when you make a mistake, or an interaction at work doesn’t go well?

Treating yourself with greater self-compassion when things don’t go to plan, will help you to grow the confidence to do activities that are outside of your comfort zone.

There are three parts to self-compassion according to Dr. Kristen Neff:

a) Kindness: being warm and understanding to yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate

b) Common Humanity: recognizing that suffering and feelings of inadequacy are part of being human

c) Mindfulness: observing your negative thoughts with openness and clarity

Perhaps your inner critic says that you will mess up at the trade show. Simply notice this voice and try replacing it with a more positive voice who cheers you on instead.

If you say the wrong thing when speaking to a prospect, or fail to close that next big opportunity, you will have the confidence to try again if you treat yourself with love and compassion. Self-compassion gives you the resilience to keep going.

3. Learn to Fail Fast

Get busy failing in small ways to stop ruminating on your shortcomings. Take actions instead of overthinking. Get outside your comfort zone and try new things.

For example, as a painfully shy person, I had always tried to avoid public speaking, but I decided to tackle this fear by joining Toastmasters. I found my voice and even more confidence. During my first speech I completely lost my train of thought. But I recovered from this small failure, and my confidence is growing each time I speak in public.

Research shows that there is a confidence/competence loop. By taking action and trying something new, you build your competence in a new skill. The first time you try, you will fail. But you learn by failing: you gain knowledge and experience to try again and to fail a little bit less next time.

Don’t sit around and wait to feel ready. That day may never come. Take action BEFORE you feel ready.

Get outside your comfort zone, and fail fast to start building your confidence today.

So, confidence is a skill you can build by growing your Emotional Intelligence, cultivating self-compassion, and learning to fail fast. But how can you network effectively on the trade show floor and at social events?

In the last year, I have attended more than 30 different networking events to grow my coaching business.

Don’t sit around and wait to feel ready. That day may never come. Take action BEFORE you feel ready.

Here are my top five networking tips.

1. Have a purpose in mind: what do you hope to achieve at the event? For example, meeting ten new prospects, getting to know five existing customers, or understanding your company’s competition better.

2. Be interested more than interesting: ask great questions to get to know your fellow networkers. Instead of “what do you do?”, try “what keeps you busy?” or “what are you most passionate about?” All humans love to talk about ourselves, and this is how you can build connections.

3. Prepare some topics in advance: brainstorm a few conversation starters that might be relevant to the group beyond surface-level topics like weather and sports. At a recent networking event, I built rapport with one of the attendees by talking about our shared love of hiking.

4. Always give value: being of service to others is a great way to build relationships. If you can’t think of how to do this, try asking “how can I support you?” at the end of your conversation. Helping others feels amazing, and your new friend will want to help you in return.

5. Stay in touch after the event: collect contact information and follow up with each person you meet shortly after the event. Try to remember a specific detail about your conversation and share it with them.

You now have everything you need to absolutely shine at your company’s next trade show!

What confidence boosting tool or networking tip resonated with you the most?

Lots of love,

-Anna Gradie

Read more guest blog posts here

About Anna Gradie

Confidence Coach/Tech Co-Founder/Speaker/Writer




Looking for a confidence boost? Sign up for a free Confidence Booster session here:

Grab your free 5-Step Confidence Booster Guide by subscribing here: 

I will be speaking at the Flash Memory Summit on August 8 – 10, 2023 at the Santa Clara Convention Center:

  • Aug 8, 2023 – 7:30pm – 9:00pm   Chat with the Experts (Table Leader) 
  • Aug 9, 2023 – 9:45am – 10:50am  Uplevel Your Confidence with Three Science-Based Strategies
  • Aug 9, 2023 – 4:00pm – 6:15 pm   SuperWomen in Flash Reception

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