by Christian Duque
A great many Iron Magazine readers are active competitors in various physique-based federations and aspiring influencers on social media. You read our magazine because you want to stay up to date with current events in the fitness industry and because you want to read about our writers’ perspectives. We don’t write fluff pieces here and we don’t tiptoe around controversial topics. Maybe that’s why we get the numbers that we do. But enough patting on ourselves on the back. This article will be released on the eve of the Arnold Classic – the second biggest contest in the sport of bodybuilding and the official start of the season. While the bodybuilders are all battling to win $300,000 and the bragging rights to one of the most respected contests in the world you should be eying the expo.
The expo? That’s right my friends – the Expo! The fans love the contest and the fans get to sit back and watch the men and women compete. I suppose you can budget time for yourself to do that too. That said, the Arnold really shouldn’t be fun for you – it should be work! If you’re an aspiring competitor and/or fitness influencer you need to treat the expo like a workation. You’re going there to meet people, take photos, give out your business card and hang around. And you’re not just looking to meet people, rather, you want to make an impression. Remember that in this day and age companies aren’t merely looking at how you place at shows or how many followers you have on IG they want to invest in people. If you have impressive placings and/or impressive numbers on social media but you lack a personality, you’re not going to get many bites on your line. And who says you should use a fishing pole anyways? Go with a net and cast it out wide!
If you’re looking to do business try to go to every single booth. Of course, you have to be strategic. Don’t spend half an hour at the booth selling you cable tv or a hokus pokus bunch of herbs. While most of the booths are for legitimate, long-standing companies in our sport, every so often there’s a handful of booths that don’t seem to fit in. That doesn’t mean you skip them. If anything, they have money to spend, and if they can drop thousands on a booth that probably won’t make them any money, maybe they will invest in you. And maybe you as a spokesperson, model, and ambassador you can actually generate some ROI for them. Even if you approach a company and chit chat for 1-2 minutes, that’s still something. That’s enough time to introduce yourself, get the name of the person you’re talking to, and lay the foundation for a future phone call or email.
Try to talk about yourself, maybe share a fun fact or two, but not more. Remember, you want to keep on moving and you need to be strategic with your time. Although it’s a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday event, that last day is when everyone is looking at the door to go home. You need to be on your game Friday and Saturday so sleep well, eat well, and stay hydrated. This will be hard work, but if you do it right you can leave Columbus with as many as a dozen good leads that may result in sponsorships.
Remember, if fitness is your goal, you need money coming in. If you’re going to set aside 5-10 hours a week for your social media then you may not need substantial cash flow; however, if you’re a personal trainer looking to grow your business and you’re competing and social media reach have a direct impact on how many clients you get and how many clients you keep, then sponsorships are key.
Competing is a very selfish endeavor and you can’t keep most 9-5 jobs and really give your all for the stage. That’s why so many competitors work with companies and spend more like 20-25 hours a week growing their social media platforms and repping companies.
If you’re going to promote a business’s goods or services you need to look and sound the part. If you’re going to hit the expo up in gym clothes, make sure the t-shirts have your logos on them. If you don’t have logos and you want to look like a gym rat, then look like a well put together gymrat. Don’t wear old clothes and don’t wear dirty clothes. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash your face and have good breath. I’m serious!
2023 Arnold Classic Expo
First impressions are everything! And don’t wear a GASP shirt if you’re looking to visit the Gorilla Wear booth. Look good, but be mindful of what you wear. And please don’t go in a suit because this is a bodybuilding expo not an insurance convention. If you’re fat, go baggy. Don’t show up in a tank stringer with your belly poking out and zero lines or veins. If you’re shredded, show it off. You can do so and still look like you’re well put together. If you look like a scrub at the biggest expo in the world while trying to make a good first impression, what do you think potential sponsors will think of what you’ll look and sound like on a daily basis on social media repping them? Most companies aren’t looking to work with bums.
If you look disheveled and/or broke is that the look companies will want people to see for their sponsored athletes? Most people will think that the companies don’t pay well and that sponsored athletes for them must be on their last legs. Perception is everything! And in social media, viewers are especially keen on details so everything has to be done right. Think of your first impression as a casting call for a movie or commercial.
You want to stand out from the thousands of other expo-goers. You want whoever you meet to be impressed with you. You want them to be able to remember who you are when you email them in a week or two. And folks – don’t email them the day of or anytime during that weekend. Also don’t email them the following Monday or Tuesday after, either. Definitely follow up that following week, but you don’t want to look desperate. You also don’t want to not follow-up. It’s a fine line and you have to be strategic.
Following up too soon looks desperate. Following up too long afterwards might look like you’re a procrastinator. Now if you really seal the deal on your first impression, who knows, they may contact you. Enjoy it, but privately, don’t make it obvious or they might start to second guess if you’re really all that special to begin with. Don’t ever let a company know this is your first rodeo. Because while humility may be a very noble attribute, it’s viewed as weakness in an industry that’s centered around vanity and the quest for perfection.
You need to be a shark. You need to exude self-confidence without coming off as pompous. There’s endless STRATEGY in this, but if you’re going to the Arnold Classic, seize every opportunity. Don’t cheat yourself of this amazing opportunity!
Be on your best behavior, gang! Have your phones fully charged, eat/sleep/hydrate, and stay till the end. Don’t leave when you’re supposed to, try to hang around. If it’s a really big company and you feel like you’ve really hit it off, I mean like you’ve really gelled with them, maybe even offer to help. Yes, right then and right there. Ask if you can move some boxes or even see if you can help with the booth. This is of course super rare but I have seen it happen. If they’re telling you you have a spot right then and there – take it! GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR!
This is all super exciting. I’d like to tell you to take it easy and see how it goes, but YOU HAVE TO BE A SHARK! YOU HAVE TO STAND OUT! But no pressure. Lol
I hope everyone enjoys the 2023 Arnold Classic. It’ll be a great event!! But if you’re going there with goals in mind, I wish you nothing but success in all your endeavors.