Preparation Before SHOT Show Determines Benefits Achieved After Event

I know what you’re probably thinking.   He’s going to tell me to make a schedule and lock in to appointments at the SHOT Show prior to touchdown at the Las Vegas Airport.   Nope!

Okay, then he’s going to tell me to make a game plan and highlight on a map all the booths where I want to pick up materials and talk to exhibit personnel.   Wrong again!

The SHOT Show has long been accepting of many types of attire, but to gain the most respect it pays dividends to look your best.

Let’s see, I bet he’s going to suggest I scour some of his blogging buddies’ websites who occasionally get leaked advanced information on new guns, products or services so the hype is in full force by the time the show floor doors open on Tuesday.   Nah, not really!

Then it must be he plans to explain how a checklist created in advance is a necessary aid to ensure everything a show attendee wants to accomplish actually gets completed.   Great idea!   But no!

One last guess.   I bet he plans to tell us how carrying a small notebook to jot notes with a tape dispenser to attach business cards right to that page of the notebook is a smart plan to stay organized and not forget any of the important details.   Well…as a matter of fact, NO!


Truth is, all of these suggestions are great ideas and worthy of careful consideration to stay organized and efficient.   Yet, the preparation I’m talking about today is more about developing a professional state of mind.   Everyone who goes to SHOT represents something.   If you’re the buyer for a store, obviously you represent that store.   If you’re a manufacturer’s rep who carries a bunch of different lines, well then you likely are wearing several different hats during the show.   Even media who does freelance work represents something important—themselves.

It’s important to go into the SHOT Show thinking and acting like the true professional you seek to be.   Long before you pack your bags and head to the airport you need to start thinking about your image.   Honestly, the non-verbals such as what you choose to wear while walking around the show can play a big role in how others perceive you, professionally speaking.

Now, I’m not here to say everyone needs to dress up and wear a sport coat or a dress.   Many people do that and some are required by their employers to do so, and that’s great.   I, in fact, do not dress up quite like that.   Instead, what I am talking about is if you wear jeans make sure they are new and not a pair that appears like they’ve been through hell.   Likewise, a dingy old T-shirt (or a T-shirt of any kind, for that matter) is best kept at home.   How you appear speaks volumes about how seriously others will likely take you at the show.   First impressions are important both in love and in business.

Another aspect toward developing a professional state of mind is being organized.   Believe it or not, others will judge you as a professional based on the few minutes you spend at their booths.   For instance, if you forgot your business cards or don’t have a pen when one is needed, this reflects negatively on you.   The preparation phase for being organized at SHOT begins right now!

And finally, the professional state of mind requires a positive mental attitude throughout the show.   Let’s not kid ourselves…the SHOT Show can be a grueling adventure.   By Thursday and Friday it takes an extra effort to crack a smile or stay upbeat when your body is getting beaten down.   Don’t allow fatigue to dull that professional edge.   There’s still plenty of work to be done even as the show begins to wind down during the final days.

In closing, it’s easy to focus on the glitzy, high-anticipation energetic days spent at the SHOT Show as being the most important days of your tradeshow experience.   As well it should be.   Still, if you want the best possible positive results in the weeks and months to come after the event, the time to prepare and to act takes place from the moment you finish reading the post.   Good luck!

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

What Are Your Goals For The 2014 SHOT Show?

Goals, you say?   Does a person who goes to the SHOT Show to experience all there is to see in the outdoors really need goals?   I suppose not, if you are attending merely for fun.   But quite honestly if you don’t attend with a specific purpose in mind you are probably the sort of Attendee whom the show is trying to weed out of its ranks.

Let me say this.   There was a time back a couple decades ago when the show would be held at venues, such as the New Orleans Convention Center, where space was a luxury.   You could look from one end of the show floor and truthfully not see the wall on the other end.   Back in those days the sky was the limit when it came to exhibitor space and possibilities.

A person who walks the SHOT Show floor with purpose and confidence is someone who has taken the time to set a few personal goals for the event.

Not the case anymore.

These days the show is much more strict on who it lets in because the show has grown and space is more condensed.   Not only does SHOT limit how many exhibitor personnel get passes based on display size, but even attendees and media are much more closely scrutinized in an effort to add greater legitimacy to the business environment.   That all being said, the days of getting to attend the SHOT Show as a reward or prize of some sort is over.   Bottom line, if you don’t have a bona fide business goal chances are you are in the crosshairs of show management for future events.

So, if you are attending SHOT you have goals or outcomes you want to accomplish.   Of course, it’s really hard to draw up a master plan because an outdoors writer will have objectives much different than a buyer for a small gun shop.   Still, I contend if you walk into the show it is just too damn easy to become overwhelmed by the entirety of the event, that a few goals will give you greater focus to maximize the outcome you desire.

The enormity and fast-pace of the SHOT Show will utterly confuse and consume a person who doesn’t enter the show floor with a well thought out plan.

During the past few days I have focused on networking as a necessary strategy to achieve desired outcomes.   I won’t continue to beat that drum, but realize that should be part of everyone’s plan no matter what your other goals may be.

Here’s a short list of my goals (as a communicator) for the 2014 SHOT Show:

  • Carefully observe the way companies are marketing via apps and social media.   My hunch is we are at a pivotal point where companies have discovered how smart phones and tablets are here to stay and hunters and shooters are definitely using them.
  • Find the handful or so of new products that will be creating the most post-SHOT Show buzz.   This may sound easy, but each year it seems more challenging to determine what product truly has “legs” and will take off in the marketplace.
  • Measure the industry pulse.   Much like a physician who observes and listens, I think it’s important as a communicator to monitor the overall health of the industry by being at the epicenter of its activity…and then report on it.
  • Key in on products that enable increased enjoyment for older sportsmen.   Seriously, I think older hunters and shooters are often forgotten and that’s why they eventually drop from the ranks sooner than necessary.   Now that I am pushing past 50 I seem to better appreciate advancing age and what limitations it does to the body.
  • Discover products that are oddball or strangely unusual.   It’s always worthwhile to poke fun at what some folks think will sell in the marketplace.
  • Look for industry trends and subsequently report on them.

There you go.   That’s my goals short list for SHOT.   Let’s here some of the goals you have for next week in Vegas!

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Discover Even More To The SHOT Show Away From The Exhibit Floor

Would it surprise you if your best discovery while attending the annual SHOT Show came to you when you weren’t technically at the show?   In many ways, the SHOT Show is about connections with people and I’m here to tell you not all networking or business opportunities will occur at the Sands Convention Center next week.   Here’s what I mean….

Now first, let me be perfectly clear…I am not talking about “carpetbagging” or “suitcasing” practices that the SHOT Show strictly forbids.   Essentially both of these tradeshow practices are activities undertaken by companies who try to take advantage of attendees at the show without paying for or actually participating in exhibitor booth space.   In other words, some companies in order to save money will conduct their sales activities on the fringe of the tradeshow in order to capitalize on a high concentration of prospects.

LetsTalkInstead, I am talking about keeping your eyes and ears open at all times for any opportunity.

Several years back I was at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport and needed to catch a taxi to my hotel.   As it turns out, the guy standing near me needed a taxi for a different hotel just around the corner.   We shared the ride (and the expense) and the journey made an awesome new industry connection for a new writer.   Not only did we share a mutual activity in both arriving to town for SHOT, but the ride gave us an opportunity to discover how a mutually beneficial relationship could evolve out of the chance encounter.

That’s what I am talking about.   Even though it may not be in your personal nature to chat up people who are perfect strangers, the nice thing is if you know someone is at SHOT you already have something in common with them.   In essence, you have a conversation begging to happen.   Furthermore, within the first 30 seconds you can usually gauge how receptive the other person is to continuing on.   Granted, some people will have a lot on their minds and don’t care to lose their focus talking to some person they will never meet again.   That’s perfectly fine.   It’s not a rejection of you, it’s more a statement about them and the lost opportunities they are not willing to experience with their chilly personality.

Several years back a colleague of mine, Jeff, stepped outside the exhibit floor down in Orlando where they had an area set aside for smoking.   Now, I will never suggest a person take up smoking to put yourself in a position to socialize with others, but Jeff started chatting up a show attendee and discovered this guy was selling the primary item Jeff wanted to discover while at the show.   Things don’t always work out that perfectly, but it certainly can happen.

Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I have been riding in an elevator with other show goers and had to ask…”where the hell did you get that?”   They will respond how such and such booth is giving the item away.   Perhaps you totally missed it at the show, but away from the show is also when discoveries can be made.

Here’s a few quick pointers for striking up a conversation with a SHOT Show stranger(either at or away from the show):

  • Consider what is happening at the moment.  Are you both waiting in line for a shuttle bus?  Say something like “I hope that bus driver didn’t get lost…I have a HOT date tonight!”   Break the ice with a statement that begs for further conversation.
  • Watch their eyes.   If they purposely avoid making direct eye contact with you than it’s a good bet they don’t want to talk.   On the other hand, direct eye contact is akin to a personal handshake non verbally indicating…TALK TO ME!   Make the verbal move immediately.
  • Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a one-word response.   “So, tell me about the best product you’ve seen so far at the show.”
  • Wear something odd or unique that encourages people to ask you questions.   Let others begin the conversation by being inquisitive.
  • Above all, appear receptive to others talking to you.   Put a smile on that face.   Look positive.   Strive for a confident appearance.   Appear as the type of person who has what others seek and appear willing to openly share a minute or two of conversation with them.

In closing, the SHOT Show networking potential extends far beyond the walls of the convention center, or even Las Vegas, for that matter.   Once you treat the entire SHOT Show experience as a unique business adventure, you’ll begin to understand how the show can positively change lives from the moment you leave home.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.