Enjoying The SHOT Show After Hours Is Also Important

I belly up to the bar just to give my aching feet a much needed break.  The SHOT Show will do that to ya, you know!   Okay, maybe the rest of me needed some relaxation in the form of an adult beverage, but the point is I started a conversation with the bartender.   It went something like this…

“I bet you’re happy the gun folks are in town for business, huh?”  I casually broke the communication ice with the barkeep.Manbar

“Oh, you bet!” was his quick reply.   “Heck of a lot better than last week here when the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was in town.”

Puzzled, I asked, “How could that be?   The CES is the largest trade show probably three times the size of SHOT?”

“No doubt,” was his quick reply,  “…but those high-tech geeks come into town, go to their show, maybe catch a bite to eat in a restaurant afterwards, yet they are more likely to hole up in their hotel room playing with their electronic toys ordering in room service.   They don’t sit in a bar to unwind.”

Shaking a cocktail in his hand, he continued on, “You probably think the gun folks like to drink and have a good time (after hours), hell, you should see the cement guys when they come in for their trade show in a few weeks.   Now, those guys know how to have a great time!”

As I brought my beverage to my lips, I pondered the possibility of how different trade shows attract different personality characteristics.   I had no clue the nice folks in the hospitality industry profile all of us patrons quite that way.   As for party animals, it appears SHOT Attendees are merely “middle of the road” when it comes to knowing how to have a good time when the floor hours end.

And that’s okay!   The daytime hours might be very business-oriented, but the after hours can combine a bit of fun along with business, in many circumstances.   It used to be finding a party to attend after the show each night was somewhat of a challenge without certain “connections.”   Well, no more.   Finding places to go or people to mingle with is as easy as joining social media.

In recent days I have seen more than a dozen different invites to private parties extended to folks who dare to venture on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other similar social mediums.   Still at a loss for how to have some fun when the SHOT Show is not currently experiencing business hours?

Come to the Tweet-up below:

I’ll be there and I’d love to meet you in person.   Besides, if that isn’t enough…my understanding is the Sportsman Channel will be giving away some SWAG and you might even find a free beverage or two.   No promises on the last statement, but past experiences has proven that it pays to get out of your hotel room and rub elbows with your SHOT Show peers during the nighttime hours.

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

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.

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.