Last week, Scott and I had the opportunity to exhibit at the National Association of Independent Schools Conference, which was in Philadelphia, PA this year. We have exhibited at the local home shows before, but this was our first national show. It was certainly a learning experience for me. I thought I’d share some of my lessons learned.

  1. Read the Instructions! Ok, so I glanced through the fine print when I registered for the conference and got the basics. I knew we had a 10x10 booth, but beyond that, I was a little fuzzy. What I didn’t do was print the Terms and Conditions on the first pass, so, of course, I had to go back and find them later. The one thing that we didn’t catch on the first pass was the electric connection was NOT included. That required going to the convention center’s website and contracting with their labor directly.
  2. Flooring matters. The aisles of the expo hall were carpeted, and carpeting was available to rent. The cost was pretty steep for the rental, so we opted out. This meant Scott and I were standing on concrete for 8 hours a day, which wasn’t the best, but it was manageable. However, we had a more open concept for the booth, which was inviting, other than it looked unfinished. Since then, I’ve purchased a foam mat that goes together like a jigsaw puzzle. And yes, I did get the aesthetic ok from the architecture side before I bought something.
    trade show booth for MSB Architects
    Concrete is ok, but some padding and beautifcation would be better.


  3. Hydrate! Ok, so this is a double-edged sword. You have to balance the hydration with the need to run to the bathroom. The room was a bit dry, so between the room and talking a lot, you get a bit parched. It also made for some dry eyes. The hall was good about providing drinks, especially on move-in day, but I need to remember to pack a reusable water bottle and eye drops, just in case.
  4. Snacks and mints. Need I say more?
  5. Versatile clothing. So I wasn’t sure how to dress for this, other than to wear comfortable shoes. On move-in day, Scott said we were just moving in so go casual. In retrospect, I wish I wasn’t wearing jeans because there were attendees around us that were more professionally dressed. I was glad for layers. It was warm when we were unpacking, but it was also cool in the hall when there weren’t many people. 
  6. Ask questions! I should have asked a few more questions before we left-like the best place to load/unload. We did ok winging it, but it could have been smoother. Other exhibitors were very helpful in sharing tips, so much appreciated.

At the end of three days, I can say I did something new and learned a few things in the process. It also reinforced some things I already knew—smile, make friends, and be open to other ideas.

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