The International Fly Tackle Dealer show is returning home to Denver this October 16-18. With over 150 exhibitors filling all possible floor space, this will be the single largest show in the event’s history. All this adds up to a gathering of the finest brands in the fly fishing industry that is second to none—and an opportunity for you, as a guide or outfitter, to make or renew those connections your livelihood depends on.
For attendees, especially guides, it’s easy to head to IFTD and get wrapped-up in the parties, new products, and just walking the show, leaving you with the sinking feeling at the end of the three days that you left a lot of opportunity on the table. Here, Hogan Brown, AFFTA Board member and renown striper guide out of Chico, CA outlines three basic best-practices that can help make this year’s show your most productive yet.
1. Schedule your face-time: If you are on pro staff, guide staff, or are an ambassador for a brand that is exhibiting at IFTD, make sure to introduce yourself to the staff/team manager. In many cases, guides talk on the phone with people or swap emails throughout the year, but rarely (if ever) have a face-to-face connection. Putting a handshake with a name and face is important for getting that extra attention and advancing that relationship. A great way to make that happen is to be in touch ahead of time and schedule a window to catch up at the show. Their time is at a premium and largely reserved for retailers, so be respectful of it.
2. Always be learning: Remember, Pro Staff is short for PROMOTIONAL Staff…if you don’t know the products and aren’t adding value to their business, then you’re not holding up your end of the deal. Take the time to go to each brand that supports you, learn the new product and get dialed in on the sales pitch and programs. Also, come with a list of things that you would like to do with the brand in the coming year, or ways you think you can add value for them. The more valuable you are to them, the more they’ll promote your expertise and profile.
3. Be hungry…and discerning: If you are looking to get on guide programs or join various pro staff, make sure to come with resume and brand analysis (you are the brand). If you want them to back you, you need to be able to show what you bring to the table as a pro/guide. A couple things you’ll want to include:
– Social media exposure (impressions and followers)
– What shops you will be steering business to and what shops you work with
– What you do outside of getting in the boat or guiding every day that sets you apart from the rest of your peers
Likewise, be honest with yourself about the number of brands, and which brands, you want to approach. If you take on too many, chances are good you may not be able to do right by all of them. Align yourself with a few brands you know you’ll work hard for, and who will work hard with you.