It's conference season

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Sunday, April 1, 2007

While the three months of summer tease me with the promise of 90 uninterrupted days of Maine's best season, I must pay a toll in the 90-day lead-up that includes trips to Dallas, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Prague, Chicago, and Birmingham, England.
That's right, it's show season, and though I've put TechSec Solutions and Security Growth behind me, ISC West, Pragoalarm (okay, I won't pretend Prague's a chore), PSA Security and IFSEC yawn out in front of me. And I mean yawn. These things are tiring. Sure, you learn a lot, and they're a journalist's dream come true in terms of getting all the sources in one place, but doesn't anybody else remember why high school was such a drag? No breaks in the schedule. Fifteen minutes for coffee simply isn't enough.
Anyway, we've got a story in our ISC West coverage where industry vets give you a tip or two on making the most of your Vegas experience, but I want to offer a couple of bromides of my own for not letting a show get you down:
* If there's a speaker after dinner, find a way to skip it. Security Growth put the inestimable Frank Abagnale up on the podium at around 8 p.m. He's clearly a smart guy, but, two hours later, drowsy heads were audibly hitting tables after hearing every possible way to create a fraudulent check. I'm sure the hotel bar was more displeased than I was. After dinner, attendees just went up to their rooms to sleep it off.
* Don't fear the sales pitch. You can learn a lot about a company by listening to how well even the lowest booth person knows the pitch. If a 23-year-old with little security experience can easily explain the product's benefits, you should be able make a good deal of dosh making end users happy with it.
* Especially now, with so many companies moving into the security space, make an effort to seek out companies and people you don't already know. Don't think you know the market just because all your friends agree with you.
* Make an effort to leave the conference venue and get outside at least once a day. Further, if the only time you break a sweat is running from the continental breakfast to the first presentation, regroup. Even if conference organizers have lined up activities from 7:30 a.m. through dinner without a break, figure out which presentation to skip and get outside for a 30-minute run or walk. Or, if all else fails, visit the hotel gym. It'll fortify you for the speeches and the pitches and the cocktail parties.
* Speaking of parties, pick a time for leaving the party and stick by it. There's nothing more irritating than a show floor after too many drinks and not enough sleep.
* Don't talk business at dinner. Jiminy Cricket, there's time enough for talking business. Better to take some time to get to know your business partners and enjoy one another's company. Did you know Bill Bozeman used to own a jazz club? That Robert Perry is a competitive ballroom dancer? That ASG's Bob Ryan can give you advice about sportfishing in Costa Rica?