Sibos 2018: Fresh is best, mate
If you’re new to the whole Sibos experience, Henry Vilar, reporter at FinTech Futures, has something to share.
My first Sibos was last year’s, in Toronto. I will paint you the picture: a 23-year-old kid, fresh out of university and tossed into the corporate world, aimlessly wandering the halls of the exhibition centre wearing a Primark suit and with not enough grey hair to be taken seriously.
Sibos is big. Very big. For many, particularly those new on the frontline, this translates to intimidating. I feel that this kid has come a long way since, particularly at navigating events like these. Granted you won’t get to meet everybody, or get to know every company attending, but there’s a lot you can do to get you halfway there. Here’s my beginner’s guide to not looking like a wombat at a dingo party.
Pick your areas
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Do your homework – it is worth spending a couple of hours checking out who’s talking and what the main trends are. It is very awkward to hear a bunch of suits talk about how exciting the latest talk on Malaysian mobile banking was, which happened while you were listening to a start-up’s marketing manager stutter their way through a script.
Last year, since the event was in the Americas, there was a lot of chat from companies turning their eyes to the Spanish-speaking half of the New World. Particularly since South American fintechs started to break through in the industry in the past couple of years. Due to the proximity and timing, it happened to be the first time we saw them in action – and the people that went to the talks about this topic all left with a new perspective in the industry.
This year, Sibos is in Australia – oh, the excitement. There has been plenty of talk about Australian banks, and APAC has always been an active region. However, the rise of challenger banks in the host country will surely spice things ups, as they aim to establish themselves among the big four in Australia.
So, we have established Sibos is a very social event. People come from all corners of the world, from all walks of (fintech) life, to meet people, make connections, build relationships and understand what is going on in the industry around the world.
A lot of this is done by having conversations with people. This should be one of the main purposes of your stay in Sidney – whether you just want to browse the market, learn about trends or generate new leads. Walk around, introduce yourself to new people, share a coffee with them, and ideally, a drink.
Once 5pm hits, you will realise that an equally important part of the event begins. This is the moment all the marketing jargon drops, and you start interacting with genuine people – not just corporate fronts.
On a bit of a personal note here, during my time in Toronto last year, I followed this advice to heart. The short of it is that at some point near the close of play, I found that my team were in no condition to go anywhere that evening. Out of friends, I spent my evening with people who were virtually unknown to me. Six months later, I was receiving an offer for a job that was hard to say no to, from one of the people I had met at the event.
But not too much
Events like these are a people’s game. Send your most charming salesperson and directors, and encourage them to put on their best smile. They will be the face of the company, and in a rapidly changing industry like fintech, it’s more likely that energetic and dynamic people will have more success “in the field”.
And equally important is your ability to judge character – expect from others what people expect from you. Just like in dating, there is plenty of fish in Sibos, and it’s pointless to waste your time on somebody that is not interested in talking to you. Get the hint. There’s a fine balance between charming somebody and being annoying.
Beyond that, my advice is to enjoy yourself. For many, it’s a new year, in a new city, with new people and companies. Collect the goodies, drink free smoothies and lattes, eat that free food. As much of a cliché as it may be, you don’t work a single day if you work in what you love.
And come say hi to the Daily News at Sibos team if you see us around – we’re a friendly bunch.
This article is also featured in the Daily News at Sibos 2018 – Day 1 edition.
Click here to read the issue online or pick up a print copy if you are at the conference!
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