Six Tips to Maximize Your Black Hat Experience

By Matter

Major security industry shows have become increasingly crowded and competitive in recent years, but when it comes to the deepest technical discussions, the quality of research issued here and its ability to draw the “heavy hitters,” Black Hat is the best big security show out there. If you play your cards right, Black Hat can be your most productive and successful show of the year. Here are six tips to ensure you maximize your Black Hat investment.


1 Give Them Something to Talk About

You don’t have to be presenting to make a splash at Black Hat (the bar for selected presentations is incredibly high). Have you fine-tuned your threat research? Are you in close touch with your researchers, product team and sales reps to make sure they’re sharing the latest intelligence from customers on threats they’re seeing in their environments? Are there any notable new tactics or approaches attackers are taking when trying to infiltrate them? Are attack patterns shifting, or are new groups on the radar? Understanding what your customers are facing – and how your team is advising and helping them from a technology standpoint – will go a long way in conversations with potential prospects, or your counterparts across the industry. Come with 3-5 key observations your team has been making on the state of the threatscape, and be sure to ask others in your position what key they have been seeing.

2. Figure Out Your Schedule Early – But Give Yourself Time to Breathe

Black Hat is always chock full of compelling, bleeding edge research, and it’s hard not to load up your schedule with sessions that will cover the latest hack of a government satellite or autonomous vehicle. Try to resist the temptation to be in every buzz-worthy session. Instead, focus on those most likely to attract potential customers or partners searching for practical knowledge. These sessions will provide value long after the event ends. You can catch up on the hot sessions later – there’s likely to be news or blog coverage covering those discussions. There will inevitably be a few you skip that seem like a missed opportunity in hindsight, but you can always try to connect with a colleague or counterpart who attended, or even reach out to the speaker.

3. Come in With a Social Media Game Plan

Be sure your team is aligned on key messaging and has relevant content created and timed to go live throughout the show. Promote any planned announcements, directing attendees to key sessions you have a hand in, and call attention to fun activities – at your booth, with partners, or at off-site events. Have key team members tweet from the sessions they are attending (particularly the ones that speak directly to your customer base – be it actual or aspirational) to highlight key ideas covered during the talk. Include some light analysis that ties something to relevant news, where appropriate, tagging the speaker’s handle and using the event hashtag. Tweets that drive engagement typically catch the attention of the speaker and can give you a valuable “in” to create a more direct dialogue.

4. Party Hop With a Purpose

Give yourself an hour or so per event, and keep conversations to a 5-10-minute window – enough to make a genuine connection and swap business cards. Take notes on the back of each card with context from your chat, or download a networking app like Leadature, LeadPod or iCapture to make the job even easier.

5. Run a Poll at the Booth

Speaking of apps that can help you maximize networking punch, iCapture also gives you the ability to create custom surveys that can easily align with MailChimp, Constant Contact and other marketing programs you probably use already. Another option here is QuickTap Survey. As a best practice, these booth surveys should be no longer than 3-5 questions at maximum, and the objective should be to quickly get to the heart of what a prospect’s pain points are.

6. Don’t Delay Your Post-Show Follow-up

Yes, you’ll likely be wiped out after the event, but it will only take 15 minutes or so on the flight home to sketch out a game plan for follow up. If you wait until you’re already home, it won’t be as fresh in your mind and chances are you’ll wind up missing some key details. Split your activities into key buckets broken out by urgency, from “Right Away” to “Early Next Week” to “TBD/Later.”


Hopefully you’ll emerge from Black Hat with a solid list of new prospects you can quickly convert to customers, some budding partnerships/integrations to start cooking on, and lots of interesting co-marketing ideas to put in motion.