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.