Only twice during the past 25 years have I missed attending the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show®). This industry only trade event brings together product manufacturers, dealers, media, PR professionals, and just about anybody related to activities involved in getting an outdoors product into the hands of the shooting and hunting consumer.
Recently, I’ve spent some time reflecting on what attending SHOT has taught me over all these years. Here’s a few tidbits I’ve gleaned from my experiences:
- NICE LOOKING EXHIBITS ALONE DON’T MAKE THE SALE. Staff at the booth needs to find creative ways to engage the customer and develop a product need with the show attendee. It’s a rare product that can actually sell itself.
- DRESS IN NICE ATTIRE. If you want to be treated like a professional, than it pays to look like a professional and not dress like a slob. T-shirts may be comfortable, but they rarely speak “I’m someone important you should talk to.” Many show attendees could benefit by heeding this advice.
- TIME IS MONEY…DON’T WASTE TIME. This advice can be construed several different ways. Most importantly is to gather your thoughts before approaching staff at a show booth. Exhibitors have a fixed amount of time to discuss their product line with as many people as possible. Be courteous by being well-prepared in your questioning.
- DON’T BE SHY. Learn to strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger. Within seconds you’ll learn if they are receptive or not. So much can be learned just by chatting with fellow show attendees. For instance, ask them what is the most intriguing item they’ve seen so far. It might give a lead you wouldn’t ordinarily have known about.
- SET GOALS. PLAN YOUR ATTACK. Let’s face it, you can’t accomplish it all at SHOT. By setting realistic goals and then outlining a solid plan to achieve them, you will make the best use of your precious little time.
- BRING A LARGE STACK OF BUSINESS CARDS. Oh, sure, most booths have badge scanners…but nothing replaces the simplicity of exchanging a business card. HINT: make sure your business card is blank on the reverse side as most people like to take some notes to jog their memory about who you are/what you need.
- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR FEET. Don’t overdo it and wreck your feet the first day. When the “dogs start barking” make sure you pay attention and get some rest. Remember, while many areas of the show are carpeted, your feet are still walking on acres upon acres of hard, unforgiving concrete. Ouch!
- KEEP TRACK OF TIME. This can be a tough one for me. The days always seem to go way too fast. If you’ve made appointments to meet someone, make sure you’ve allowed ample time to navigate to where you need to go.
- HYDRATE THAT BODY. Remember, you may be in Las Vegas but it’s still a desert. Moreover, by adding alcohol to your system during the evenings this behavior will further dry you out. To feel and perform your very best everyone needs to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day.
- BRING A NOTEBOOK…TAKE NOTES. SHOT is all about memory overload, so don’t rely on your mind to remember it all. If you see something nifty in a booth…write it down along with the booth number. This allows you to take the SHOT Show directory and make contact after the show, if necessary.
- SHARE A CAB RIDE. Not only does it save money, but it also presents yet another opportunity to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Some of my most fond cab rides have been with people I’ve just met. Plus, you never know how the connection could end up benefiting you down the road.
- AVOID THE LAS VEGAS NIGHTLIFE. When the doors at SHOT close go back to your room and order room service. Then plan to turn in early for a refreshing start the next morning. What? You don’t like this suggestion? Actually, I don’t either…that’s why I sometimes break even my own advice.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.
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