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The Surprising Value of Introverted Trade Show Booth Staffers

During a recent post-show meeting we asked our four top booth staffers to share what they did to succeed, and that’s when something unexpected happened:  They all described themselves as introverts.

Introverts?  How is that possible?  When you think of the best booth staffer, you probably picture a gregarious extrovert who fearlessly engages and charms attendees into entering their trade show booths.  And conversely, you expect the quiet booth staffers barely make a ripple in the waves of attendees who stream by.

That’s what I used to think, too.  But that changed when those top four staffers all called themselves introverts.

Why Introverts Can Make Great Booth Staffers
There are six reasons we discovered why introverts can make the best booth staffers:

  1. Introverts are more process-driven than people-driven, so they are more willing to learn and adhere to the proven process of engage, relate, qualify, and close.
  2. Introverts are not as scary to introverted attendees walking down the aisle, who may spook at the over-the-top overtures of extroverted booth staffers.
  3. Because introverts don’t need to talk all the time, they are more likely to listen to what attendees say they really need.
  4. Introverts don’t need constant talking too — so they can go for more than 30 seconds without needing to ask their neighbor about what’s for dinner, or about the party they went to last night. Introverts can stay focused on taking the next lead.  And once they take a lead, they don’t brag about each lead they took.
  5. Introverts are like the turtle to the extrovert’s hare, quietly gathering more leads than an extrovert will.
  6. Introverts are more likely to actually write down what the attendee said on a lead card, providing more ammunition and motivation for effective lead follow-up

They also shared that even though they called themselves introverts, they loved booth staffing because they could see the substantial results their participation generated, how well received our products were, and how they gained marketing insights from talking to customers.  These are confident, competent team players, not hermits.

Of course, I have seen extroverted booth staffers who succeed at trade shows, and fit the stereotype of the charming staffer.  It’s just a revelation that self-described introverts can succeed so well, too.

So perhaps it’s worth considering that if introverts at your company really want to staff the booth, know your customers and your products, then it’s more than possible that those wallflowers could blossom at trade shows.

Is this a surprise to you?  Or have you already been successfully recruiting introverts with positive attitudes to staff your booth?  Let us know in the comments box below.

To get greater results from your booth staffers, whether they are introverts or extroverts, click here to get your free copy of the 48-page Booth Staffing Guidebook, filled with useful articles, checklists, and worksheets.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch was Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, for over 25 years. He is now retired and spends his time freelancing, traveling, and enjoying time with his family.

17 responses to “The Surprising Value of Introverted Trade Show Booth Staffers

  1. Great article and nice vantage point, we are all trained for the extroverts, nice to see value of the introverts and how powerful they can be in a trade show settting…

    1. Adrian,

      Thanks for widening the scope beyond just the booth staffers. Jim Collins has similar insights in his two books, Built To Last, and even more so in Good To Great, where his research showed that charismatic leaders were often outperformed at rival companies led by a less charismatic, yet more effective leader. And thanks also for tweeting about this blog post, that’s much appreciated!

  2. Great observation! Unlike some of the sales hotshots you often find on the show floor who need alot of attention, these introverts do the job without necessarily seeking the glory.

  3. Mike:
    Thank you for sharing this information. Very insightful and useful. Another group of people that make great exhibit staff are people who interact with customers by phone i.e. customer service; technical support; telephone sales reps; etc. They enjoy the face-to-face contact and are very appreciative of the opportunity to do a little traveling.

    1. Keith, I totally agree. Customer service people have learned how to quickly make a connection with people on the phone, so they quickly make a connection with booth visitors. Plus, they know the product inside and out.

  4. Interesting points. I am a very slight introvert that forces my extroverted side to come out during the show. This article really fits my experience. One thing to note though is that the introvert will most likely be exhausted when they head back to their hotel since they do not feed off of conversation and interaction like an extrovert does in this situation.

    1. Zack,

      Thanks for the insight. We have one more introverted booth staffer who says she is in her hotel room with a book by 8 every night. On the other hand, extroverts will be recharged by all the interaction with attendees, so they’ll want to go out. Which means those introverted booth staffers will be better rested for day 2 and day 3 of the show!

  5. A good sales person, no matter how extroverted he/she may be, knows when to be more laid back, and to ask questions and then shut up. 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.

    A well run show will have explained conduct rules before the show, i.e. this is not a reunion, or time to complain or brag.

    Do not cluster, and focus on getting the attention of the people you want to talk to, and getting them to talk to you, and tell you what their needs are, problems they are having etc.

    And by all means, watch body language! Not everyone wants to shake your hand, and since I tower over everyone at 6’8″ tall, I am careful not to stand too close, or move my windmill like arms while talking, making people duck!

    1. David,

      Thanks for sharing your great tips about how to be more versatile when engaging attendees to more effectively staff a trade show booth. You are so right about not clustering. Too often I see booth staffers talking to each other, and that puts two or more staffers out of action and unable to engage attendees.

  6. Yep, that’s my nickname, “turtle”, and I am that quiet, shy person in most situations. My partner/founder, on the other hand is the true extrovert who knows how to engage and loves the action – the more people, the better.

    People remember him after the show, but we introverts, as you pointed out, can close the sale every bit as well where there is dogged DETERMINATION to FOCUS on RESULTS.

    Potential customers also appreciate our attention to detail after the show which is another important aspect of nurturing the relationship.

    Ideal situation: work as a team to inspire and guide. Nice article. I totally agree!

  7. Hi Mike!

    It is really a big surprise for me to see you and your words!

    I like your words. You got the point. Just because introverted booth staffers know how to make soulmate communication. They always look into people’s heart. Right?

    1. Hello Susie,

      While I agree that introverted booth staffers are well equipped to make a good connection by actually listening and responding to attendees, I think it’s rare they achieve the high level of a “soul mate” connection on the show floor. Although, at the certain kinds of trade shows, it may be more common…

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