Networking is the magical ingredient in every trade show event. The opportunity to connect with suppliers, buyers, and partners in your industry is invaluable, and trade shows are what bring us all together.

But what does networking look like during the era of social distancing? Is it possible to build face-to-face business relationships while still keeping ourselves and others safe?

With a little flexibility and a lot of preparation, it can be done!

Try these four social distancing-friendly networking tips:


1. Protect your staff and visitors

Show organizers will almost certainly require precautions such as masks and social distancing, but you can add to the effort by stocking up on key supplies:

  • Extra masks for your booth staff and guests;

  • Clear face shields that allow full-face visibility, a key aspect in establishing communication and trust;

  • Floor stickers and signage to help visitors understand safety recommendations and physical spacing;

  • Hand sanitizer at exhibit entrance, exit, and any touchpoints.


2. Try some social distancing design workarounds

Trade show exhibit displays are changing to meet the demands of social distancing. Custom trade show exhibits and modular displays that utilize partitions and shields allow booth staff and guests to interact face-to-face with an added layer of protection.

Booth configurations have also shifted. For example, meeting spaces within exhibits need to be larger to accommodate social distancing, include appropriate partitions where necessary, and should always provide enough spacing for guests to comfortably move about.

Reserving a large space within your exhibit for safe, well-spaced communication will help put guests at ease while networking.


3. Capitalize on technology

One of the most important networking tips during social distancing is to use digital tools to your advantage! In a way, we are fortunate to be experiencing this global pandemic during a time when video conferencing, web presentations, and other tools are nearly ubiquitous.

Consider scheduling time slots with guests for one-on-one video chats. You could even have an offsite team at the ready to take calls from interested showgoers.

A/V technology also eases socially distant networking. Providing amplification and display screens when communicating through partitions or from a distance can keep in-person discussions safe, efficient, and frustration-free.


4. Take advantage of outdoor spaces

Dinner and drinks are everyone’s favorite way to network. Don’t skip the fun part! Find a nearby restaurant with outdoor seating to facilitate your after-hours conversations.

This is also a helpful tip for meeting with a larger group during business networking events. Find an outdoor space where you can spread out while still being able to communicate as a group.

There’s no reason to ditch your networking event ideas just because of social distancing. Try these networking tips and keep building those indispensable business connections at your next trade show event. Best of luck, and happy exhibiting!