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Leveraging Events: SXSW 2022 Conference

The SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for the global community of digital creatives to encounter cutting-edge ideas, discover new interests, and network with other professionals who share a similar appetite for forward-focused experiences. Featuring a variety of tracks that focus on the most important breakthroughs in technology, film, culture, and music, SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.

When it comes to expanding your business, it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Attending a large-scale conference like SXSW is a crucial opportunity to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t, stay updated on trends, and bring awareness to your company.

It’s incredibly motivating to discuss topics and ideas with those in your industry, that can help you grow and expand. I was able to attend sales pitch competitions, where 10-20 companies would take 5 minutes to compete for a government grant. I was able to hear from thought leaders that provided unique insights and perspectives. Highlights included a panel discussing the future of the U.S. Government’s defense innovation ecosystem, led by none other than the folks who sign the checks. One such example and the best memory of the entire conference was meeting a retired USAF Brigadier General who invests in cohorts consisting of non-traditional tech companies that are dedicated to accelerating change, both in industry and in national security. Ultimately, providing these small businesses the opportunities to attend assessment events that lead to additional research with AFRL.

Attending a conference does require a certain mindset, keep in mind your game plan and goals while staying flexible and realistic. Take the time to connect and listen, especially with those unplanned spontaneous connections. Listen and learn about them, figure out where the overlap in interest lies, and discover where both parties will mutually benefit from a partnership.

I spent 21 years in the Army as an infantryman. Austin, Texas, or ATX as it has become colloquially known, is what I would label as the most target-rich environment imaginable. I’ve been to many conferences and it’s way too common to see literally thousands of folks in attendance with no plan, other than to show up. They’re hoping to run into someone who might be willing to listen to their idea and say something to the effect of, “yeah…..I think we can help you with that….here’s my business card.”

Going in blind will never work for new business. Come prepared for the expected and have the ability to roll with the unexpected, don’t leave it entirely up to chance. Working with Boone, I know my goals and my clients’ goals going in, I’m able to seek out folks that express interest. Making the cost of attendance for any event a calculated sales effort, and not a gable. Make it your mission to continue the conversation and learn more.

For me, attending SXSW was a great opportunity to teach and learn. When someone bumps into you and says “sorry….I’m Bob…what do you do?” you really have to be on your game. More than likely, it is a newcomer to networking that is trying to make small talk. It could also be the CEO of a new startup with millions in capital just looking for someone to take them to the next level. That is when you have to put all those elevator pitches you rehearsed in the car into action.

Don’t go in blind. Boone has a proven track record of identifying and understanding our clients and how they can win government business, and events are just one of the tactics we employ. I find myself explaining how the government turns a good idea into money in your pocket, more times than I thought possible. Before our team goes into an event like SXSW, we know what success looks like and understand how our clients fit into the bigger picture. When you combine that kind of leadership presence with the folks who are boots on the ground, success is almost inevitable if you DO.YOUR.JOB.

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