I am a West Coast guy, and try to keep my client base on the west coast. I don’t think I have ever visited a DC agency for business other than the President’s Photography department to research the use of RAW images and other features for photography in Windows 15 years ago.
I know the Federal Government is a different world, and when I read Stacey Higginbotham’s post on visiting a DC conference it clarified the differences.
Paper is the note taking medium, not a computer.
The tool of choice is paper, not a computer. I can scan the rows of people at our Structure conference and see the lids of many a MacBook or the glow of tablets, but here, while there were some folks typing in their notes, more were jotting things down on paper. And in conversations with people, only one ever pulled out a phone; and that was because someone was calling her. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler even told me after an onstage interview that people are more productive wearing a watch than using their phones to check the time because the phones then distract them. People clearly have smart phones, but they aren’t using them like they are a tether to a more interesting world.
The one thing I don’t think I could get used to is the fact that people sit in the presentations as a higher priority than networking.
When you attend a conference in DC, you actually attend the conference. The sessions were packed and the screening room was overflowing with people watching the proceedings. There are few people wandering the halls doing deals or networking outside of the breaks.
The rest of the post remind of the other 3 things that explain how different it is to do business in DC.