Your Show Success Hinges on Your Partnerships



History is an open vault filled with example after example of humankind uniting together for a common goal. A passion-driven coalescence would often prove to be the turning point in whatever war or injustice was being fought.

Perhaps one of the most memorable examples of steadfast partnerships was between President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who became not only strong allies but also forged a relationship built on trust and unity. It was successful because they understood what was at stake for everyone involved and didn’t only seek personal remediation. Churchill had a strong grasp not only on what it took to be a leader, but also a committed member of an entire coalition, saying “courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  

We would be remiss if the only words we took to heart were our own. The ramifications might not be as disastrous as it would have been for a person of power in 1942, but the results are the same, a lack of commonality and goals that are disjointed. Such incoherence is a recipe for failure. Not only does society benefit from strong unified leadership, business does as well. Professional relationships thrive on positive interactions and their effectiveness to work with one another. This team-player mentality realizes that it’s the totality of each person fulfilling their role that makes the company function at its peak performance.

Wisdom Gives Strength

The human body is a wondrous creation with intricate parts that rely on each system to perform according to its design. All those parts form one body, as do the many parts of a trade show. In the trade show industry, if the contractors, exhibitors, and managers are all operating independently from one another, there would be no cohesion and the show wouldn’t be a success. Effectiveness doesn’t happen without a unified body of partnerships. These relationships only work when built on a solid foundation.

When Show Managers are proactive at maintaining good working relationships, it benefits them not only professionally, but personally as well. It makes the job easier to manage and can lower stress levels. A Norwegian study that analyzed over 2900 responses supplied by business managers, found that stress declined when they (Managers) felt like they had positive relationships with employees. Furthermore, when the sentiment from employees was reciprocated, meaning that they were happy with their employer, stress continued to decrease. It’s evidence, beyond anecdotal, that relationships are pivotal to creating a healthy work environment.

The Strong

There are several traits that are foundational to having great working relationships with your trade show partners. Without these fundamental characteristics, those partnerships will suffer. In order to analyze and improve relationships, it’s important to identify what those traits are and why they are so elementally crucial to everyday interactions.

  1. Trust – Trust involves risk and it must be given in order to be received. It’s exchanging roles back and forth, from trustee to trustor, learning how to trust and to be trusted in return. If someone is not willing to risk trusting, and only allows themselves to be the person trusted, the relationship will ultimately break down. Trust is built over time and only with a solid track record.
  2. Good Communication – Good communication requires not only the ability to effectively get your ideas across but also the capacity to actively listen to someone else. It is important that you make yourself available; a contractor won’t want to continue working for a manager if he feels like his concerns aren’t being heard. Likewise, a manager might feel very frustrated if a contractor is never available to communicate with.
  3. Mutual Respect – Respect is all about placing inherent value in someone else and their ideas. Mutual respect happens when both parties appreciate what each other adds to the relationship.

The Weak

What someone gets out of their professional life is often a reflection of what they put into it. While cutting corners and treating clients and employees unfairly might provide opportunities for management for a while, eventually, it catches up with them. For example, a show in San Francisco that is big and important enough to rival all others in its industry consistently hires the lowest bidding contractors for a two-year cycle. Those contractors bid low knowing they will lose money on this contract, but the exposure and work they will receive in return is part of their loss leader type strategy.

Unfortunately, the exposure isn’t enough to make the process worthwhile due to the low wages and demanding upper management. Once the two-year contract is completed, the job is put out for bid once again. The previous contractor isn’t likely to bid for that work again due to the headaches and money lost. Meanwhile, the Show Manager in charge is aware that he has the upper hand and can get another unsuspecting contractor that will have to tolerate misuse for the duration of the agreement.

It will be only a matter of time before word reaches other contractors and it damages the reputation of the show. The likelihood that either party in the scenario will be able to carry out their work to its full potential is low. If people are working in conditions that are unfair and unreasonable, the level of work isn’t going to be above and beyond. It’s more likely to be done only to specification and enough to quell criticism.

Relationships Give Strength

When Show Managers formulate good relationships with their contractors by treating them fairly at respectable rates, this creates long term partnerships. Together, these partnerships can create a show that exhibitors and attendees will look forward to year after year. This type of success comes from partnerships that have been cultivated over time with respect and integrity. If what you reap you sow, you can have a bountiful harvest for years to come.