Last night I had a networking event with other business owners in the city. We were all given hangtags to put around our necks with our name and company affiliation, then we had to get in a line and were given two minutes to give our spiel to the person across from us. Prime/sub-contractor speed dating, they called it. When we were moved down the line when time was up, I took a quick glance down at the name tag of the next person as they took their leave of the previous conversation partner, and greeted them by name. This never failed to awe the person, which was important because I was soliciting them for jobs. I saw how impressed they were that I knew their names, and I realized that this was I skill I’d honed at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. The quick sidelong hangtag glance is a move that you’ve got to perfect at the trade shows, for those familiar “Oh god who the hell IS that” moments before you’re faced with actually talking to the person whose name you’ve forgotten. Yes, it sucks when someone wears another person’s hangtag and then acts surprised when you call them by the wrong name, but what do they expect? It turns out it works really well when you are meeting someone for the first time, too. Those things should be required at all times; at work, at parties, on the ski lift…they’re so useful.

So, Outdoor Retailer: it can prepare you for real life, too. I even got to hug someone. A win all the way around.