5 Ways to Make the Most of CES 2022

This is not the year to wing it at the biggest tech convention

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Preparing for a trip to the Consumer Electronics Show has always been a daunting proposition—even in pre-pandemic times.

This year, the question many of us are asking is: How do you get the most out of a show that attracts hundreds of thousands of companies and attendees when it may be your first live event in 20 months? Not to mention the fact that this convention—always centered on the future—is during a time when the future seems to be arriving faster than scheduled, causing many aspects of your business to change.

If you’re an advertising or media professional, my most basic advice is that this is probably not the year to wing it.

The return to an in-person CES warrants some degree of strategic planning to ensure that executives make the most of the conference. It may even present an opportunity to rethink how you approach conferences overall.

Therefore, here are some key questions/guidelines to think about as you prepare to venture out into this brave new world.

Think less aspiration and more practicality

Maybe in the past you’d attend an event like CES or SXSW in search of inspiration or just to become more informed on upcoming trends or technology. Those are still worthy goals, but this year it may make sense to be far more tactical and bottom-line oriented.

These past two years have been marked by rapid change, and some companies have been forced to rush into new sectors. So CES may offer a moment to take stock and consider—what does my business need to get better at right now? And whom can I meet with at CES to get moving?

For example, does your brand need to further expand its ecommerce capabilities? Are you behind on data warehousing? Could the right AI change your website or improve your marketing? While CES is perennially about tomorrow, this year it might make more sense to focus on today.

CES is huge—use it to tackle huge problems

Among some of the more vital and challenging missions that leaders have been facing over the past year are the need to improve diversity and sustainability. Neither is easy to address quickly or independently. But leveraging the magnitude of CES can better attack both goals.

On the diversity front, not only does such a large event lend itself to recruiting, but surely there will be organizations and other brands that can share wisdom and proven tactics to take on this cause more quickly and effectively. Plus, given the global scope of the show, CES offers a great opportunity to seek out and meet minority-owned exhibitors. This may require a bit of research prior to attending but should prove well worth it.

Similarly, CES will be brimming with technology promising to dramatically reduce a company’s carbon footprint, as well as leaders in other industries willing to share approaches that have led to significant progress. So, take advantage.

Be deliberate about learning

Do you feel as though your company is behind in gaming? Spend 30% of your time, or maybe half a day, dedicated to that track. Are you really confused about/intimidated by crypto? This is a perfect venue to take a crash course and figure out where your company really needs to start investing.

This is the year to make CES work for you, so don’t forget why we all come to an event featuring brilliant innovators and thinkers from all over the world. Save some time to get inspired outside of your usual circle and dive into a less familiar/comfortable subject or segment that could pay off greatly for your business by offering a new perspective. After all, that’s the magic of CES.

Prioritize quality face time

As we’ve all seen, you can Zoom with just about anyone, but it doesn’t replace the human connections that make our business what it is. We all have those key relationships that need fostering, or connections where we could benefit from going a lot deeper.

So when you head into CES this year, think about what meetings or gatherings will help you get the uninterrupted one-on-one time you need. That may mean heading into cocktail parties with a plan on who you want to meet and what questions you want to ask. Of course, allow yourself some time to purely socialize, but the focus of this year’s CES should be on reconnecting or broadening your network.

Take a breath

While it’s crucial to head into CES with an ROI mindset, we’re also human. And it’s been a tough couple of years for many of us. So, it’s important to carve out some time during your CES experience to enjoy yourself. Don’t forget that you’re in Las Vegas (but don’t forget you have to get to the airport the next day).

Overall, this is as exciting a moment as ever to attend a show as vast as CES. Not only will we once again have a chance to get an early look at groundbreaking technology and potentially life-altering new trends—we’ll also be able to reconnect with colleagues and friends, many of whom we’ve been cut off from for too long. All at a time when our businesses need to take every step to prepare for even more change than we’ve experienced of late. So, let’s make the most of it.