I had my first trade show at Life Instyle, Sydney, in February this year. I was absolutely freaking out as I skipped "First in Style" (the small display space for those who were new to the show) and went straight to the main area. I had no idea what to do and basically Googled my way through. I didn't even know what an order form should look like or if I had got mine right. It was terrifying until I got my first order, then I was like "oh sh*t, wicked, I'm not delusional" *insert awkward dorky happy dance*.
Taking on a trade show is scary. Everyone gets so scared, whether they are there for the first time or a seasoned exhibitor. There is so much riding on it. Not just money but hopes, dreams, a lot of self belief and your creativity.
Know that just by backing yourself and getting involved you have taken a HUGE step. I know other designers who have had labels for 10+ years and have been too scared to take on a trade show. Be proud of that! Be proud that you have got there!
The worst case scenario is that you won't make any sales, or as many as you had hoped. DON'T let it get you down, you have done such an amazing job at getting there and that counts!
I had a friend who didn't make any sales and you know what, she did such a good job at getting her cards and flyers to people that she made heaps of sales following her show. Buyers want to see your face, especially if you're First in Style. They want to build trust and know who they will be working with. They may not buy right away because they will go, sit down with a coffee and research you. If you can follow up and remind them that you met after the show and that you're the super happy friendly one, then you'll get what you want.
I learnt so so so much on my first show. You get so much feedback (so take a note book) that will guide your future designs and displays. You make wicked friends so just smile and be friendly to everyone.
So be prepared to learn, make friends and hand out our merchandise like confetti (a lot of sales happen after the show too). And remember, once you set up take a moment and be sooo proud that you are doing it. Then breathe and enjoy getting to know people and future stockists, don't even think about sales. Just smile and enjoy (that is contagious and people will gravitate to you). This is a milestone!
Then come visit me at STAND 2000 if you need a pep talk. My label is Eco Bling, you won't be able to miss it.
Oh and by the way, I didn't get my order form right, but it is right now. Lesson learnt.