CES, now in its 48th year, has become not just a marquee event for the tech industry, but for the media and marketing industries as well. According to CES, last year’s event boasted over 160,000 attendees and over 3,600 exhibits. We talked to MediaLink’s Senior Vice President Bill Westcott and Vice President Alexis Boerger to get their expert insights on how to make connections and close deals at CES.

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Know What You Want

According to Boerger and Westcott, the most important thing is to focus on what your brand can accomplish during the event. Says Westcott: “The most critical step to getting the most out of CES is to define your objectives before you arrive. What do you want to learn, who do you want to meet? Defining these goals should determine how you spend your time.” Often it helps to have a third party build those interactions for you. “If it’s truly a curated experience, we need to know the goals of the business, where you are making traction and experiencing pitfalls,” says Boerger. “If you have identified your top three priorities, it becomes easier for us to design a custom CES experience.”

Since the conference is so massive, it can be intimidating to navigate. So it’s best to go in with a plan. “It’s about being in the right place at the right time and being flexible,” says Boerger. “The only time you should be on the floor is for a dedicated tour. Going in without a plan is fruitless because of the sheer volume of content available.”

This year’s events are divided into Tech East (big appliance, entertainment, and multimedia brands, audio, automotive, e-gaming, wireless, internet of everything, new screens) and Tech West (startups). Westcott suggests focusing on Tech East if you can only do one, but Tech West is where a lot of the up-and-coming innovations can be seen.

Boerger also believes it is beneficial to leave some flex time in your schedule for spur of the moment introductions that happen early in the week. “MediaLink’s Official Kickoff Party is the best way to start your week — it’s a who’s who of the marketing world,” says Boerger. “It’s a fantastic way to make informal introductions. Successful networking during this event can set the stage for the rest of the week.”

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Think Logistics First

According to Westcott, having a lay of the land is crucial to scheduling appointments that make sense logistically. “When you’re scheduling a meeting, keep in mind that logistics can be challenging. This is why so many meetings are held in coffee shops and hotel lobbies.” For example, some of the hotels are a 20-30 minute cab ride – that is, if you can find a cab. Finding a nice lobby bar in between or on the monorail instead can be a big time saver. Another venue to keep on your radar this year is the Aria, the launch place for CES’s inaugural C-Space which is considered a good “home base” for meetings on-the-go.

Ask What Implications New Tech Has For Your Brand

To avoid becoming overwhelmed, Westcott suggests starting with your company’s lens at CES. “The show is massive, and obviously the core focus is consumer electronics, but look at all the types of tech and trends that are being highlighted through the show and try to find your company’s angle or perspective or interest, and navigate the show accordingly.”

Boerger suggests you consistently ask yourself what implications new technologies will have on your business. “When you step back and look at the trends – immersive entertainment experiences, transportation technology, wearables, connected home, mobile as a remote – consider how they can be aligned with your business. Highlight big trends, sessions, and booths that you can’t miss.”

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Wine & Dine – People Expect It

Westcott and Boerger agree that the key to making lasting connections at CES is to wow people with hospitality and a memorable experience. “I genuinely believe the after hour events are just as important as the programming during the day. Don’t be surprised that real business can be done at blackjack tables,” says Boerger. “Leverage the venue – you’re in Vegas and people are expecting a certain level of entertainment and elevated hospitality. If there’s a contact you’ve never been able to lock in, you can use CES to court these folks in a really social way. Access barriers are often diminished while in Sin City. Maybe you make a reservation at a sexy, hip new restaurant and grab people along the way – people are open to that.

Westcott suggests booking a big table at a great restaurant toward the end of CES. “As your preparing for the show, invite interesting people from different companies,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to bring people together, have fun, and create a great networking experience.”

You Never Know Who You’ll Run Into

For those who think CES is too large or inaccessible, Boerger disagrees. “The amount of brands that attend this event increases dramatically every year – a few years ago it was brands like GE, Samsung and many consumer technology focused companies, only sending their chief innovation officers.” But things have changed. “Now, across the board, brands are sending representatives from all divisions of the company. They’re on the floor and are curious about how the trends coming out of this event will inform their focus areas for the rest of the year. In the marketing community, it’s increased in popularity exponentially in the past few years. There’s always a hot new consumer technology that launches, but now marketers are omni-present. Now there’s an entire programming track dedicated to what makes sense for the marketers.”

NewsCred and MediaLink will be at the CES Kickoff Party – see you in Vegas!


This article was written by Amber van Natten from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.