Networking in the Snowboard Industry

18 Mar, 2009


In my constantly moving chatbox, Pierce asked “how do you meet all these people I would love to be as involved in the snowboard community as you are.”

The snowboard industry is small, seriously smaller than you can imagine. If you know one person, chances are through them you know, or can potentially know, a lot more people. It just takes an introduction or communication to establish a relationship. When I did Industry Profiles last summer, a lot of people spoke about the snowboard industry saying that “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Six degrees of separation says you are only six steps away from everyone, in snowboarding I think it’s more like three steps…just gotta get out and make the step.
The most noticeable thing for how I’ve met people is networking. There are lots of words for it: make contacts, meet and greet, schmooze, mingle. My friend Bruce once told me I was really good at networking because I stay connected to people, constantly in contact and a hub of information. Really it comes down to making connections. I’ve found that anyone I email, I will try to meet in person especially when it comes to Industry events.

Alot of the contacts I have made over the years I’ve noticed come in three different groups: AASI, SIA and Demos.

Before the days of this blog, I was on snow teaching snowboarding back in Washington. After I got my AASI certification and became a Training Director, I would attend a lot of AASI events. A couple times a year I’d spend on snow with TD’s at other mountains, riders that knew their stuff, could break down teaching and communicate very well. A lot of that crew of people now work for companies in the snowboard industry. We all started out as instructors and now I see them at Nitro, Burton, Rossignol, Atomic, Bataleon, the list goes on.

It all starts somewhere.

Industry events are not about how many free drinks you can get but who you can meet. SIA is where I have met the majority of people within companies. The first year I attended I only knew my friends from WA and from there it grew. Each year I meet more people, this year was amazing in how many people I was able to meet, names I’ve heard of for years. SIA is the time to put a face to a name. Years ago, I emailed a Rome rep and at my first SIA, he was one of the people I made sure to stop by and introduce myself to. Now I see him every year and when I rolled through Portland last summer I made sure to meet up with him and his family for dinner. It comes down to making the effort to meet people and just talk with them in person.

The reason I have so many board reviews is because of demo days. Colorado is home to plenty of on-snow demos throughout the year for the public and for industry. I make the effort to drive 2 hours to hit up demo days for review purposes and also to get to know the reps. Reps are the eyes and ears of the industry, they know the products, they sell them, they know shops, they know people. Being part of the demos just gives a chance to get to know them, by name and talk products with them. I’ve acquired a couple friends from demo days and it’s always good to make laps with them and spend more time with them outside of the demo tent.

The biggest most important thing I’ve learned about networking is be yourself. Be genuine in who you are and what you do. If you try to lie your way in or throw up some kind of “I’m more hardcore, all knowing attitude” it won’t get you that far. No one in the industry knows everything, no one is perfect and pretending you are gods gift to snowboarding is not fun to be around. In fact stay away from those people, they tend to bring you down like a sinking ship. Be humble, be appreciative and listen.

That’s my long answer to Pierce’s question to how I got to know people in the industry. If you see me on the mountain or an event, come and say hello. Just remember be yourself and leave all attitudes at home…it goes further than you think.

About the author

Shay

From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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9 Comments

  1. Han
    March 19, 2009

    awesome article shay. great advice and i noticed that people can hella call you out if you just act cocky techno wizard. i hope to meet some more reps soon

  2. Gurl Ryder
    March 19, 2009

    awesome article! this is my first year in AASI and i’m planning on attending the spring conference this year to meet new people in the industry and have tons of fun! i’ve already met so many cool people teaching at my local mtn and absolutely love it!

  3. hoon
    March 19, 2009

    honey attracts more bees than vinegar i’ve found. showing your stoke always gets you points. wrd

  4. Jonny
    March 19, 2009

    well said Shay!

  5. Erica
    March 19, 2009

    Well said and true, every word of it. And it applies to every industry, not just snowboarding! Personally I am trying to do more online marketing networking since that’s my industry. Some more tips I could offer – when you connect with people in person at shows, mixers, etc. then always follow up with them, email, follow them on twitter, friend them on facebook, add them on linkedin – keep your connections active. Then when you see them in person you have more to talk about (and remember more about the contact.)

    Also bring something of value – as you noted, be a friendly personality, offer some expertise or tips, just contribute in some way! You’ll be that much more remembered – and likely even get some more “referrals” sent your way to further build your network.

  6. Anonymous
    March 19, 2009

    well spoke,ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING!
    you gotta love the game more than your ego.

  7. Shayboarder
    March 19, 2009

    Definitely some good points you guys made that I missed, so well said as well!

    Linkedin is great, I’m finding myself more and more on there to connect and find people I have met at the tradeshows. Always interesting to see what other people’s backgrounds are in the industry.

    Loving it is huge, people notice that. I had a old friend notice that when I talked about snowboarding and the blog, my eyes lit up and I was really amped to talk about it to him. People notice when you care about something and love it.

  8. March 14, 2013

    Hey Shay, wise words. I’m so glad to see that all of your hard work over the years has paid off. I remember the first year you opened this blog, I would look back nearly everyday looking for a new board review or a new product leak. You always made the effort to let your followers be the first to know, and for that I thank you. The one time i got to meet you my first year in Whistler at the Grenade games dual slalom moguls, what a great day-though i think my girlfriend got a little jealous by how stoked i was to see you there. Anyways Shay, thanks for these pointers. I hope to follow your work for another 4 years. ForeverEndeavor, DylanB

    • March 16, 2013

      Hey Dylan! Thanks for your support over the years! Awesome to have met you in person years ago!