What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Thankfully, that saying doesn’t apply to CES, where everything that goes down gets instantly broadcast across the Internet. The Super Bowl of tech is set to open its doors on Monday, and along with heavy hitters such as Sony, Microsoft, et al, a bevy of small businesses will be on deck to unleash their new products and attempt to get an early leg up on the competition. To help you make the most of the annual geek extravaganza, here’s a little primer on what you need to know, expect and prepare for.

What is CES?

The International Consumer Electronics Show is the world’s largest tech event and takes place January 9-13, with the 9th being exclusively devoted to press events and conferences, and the actual exhibits starting on the 10th.

CES is the launching point for the biggest tech products of the year, including smartphones, tablets, computers, big-screen TVs, gaming hardware and more. Companies looking to make a big splash, or just learn about the new industry trends, are sure to make an appearance. The show is closed to the public, but for those lucky enough to attend, it’s a rare chance to get some hands-on time with new products as early as weeks, or even months, before their official release. For the unlucky who are unable to attend though (like yours truly), live streaming and social media updates of the event provide an opportunity to learn more about the gadgets and high-end electronics you’ll be spending your hard-earned dollars on in the near future.

What to Expect in 2012

Last year, everyone and their mother seemingly had a tablet or 3DTV on display. For 2012, the early buzz seems to be on ultrabooks, with the major PC companies like Dell, Toshiba or HP looking to follow the trail blazed by Apple’s MacBook Air (who, incidentally, won’t be making an appearance), bringing in their own light, razor-thin laptops for the world to see.

Smartphones should maintain a strong presence, with a slew of powerful and LTE-capable devices being presented. Tablets and e-readers should also be ubiquitous, with a rash of Android 4.0 (or Ice Cream Sandwich)-equipped slates looking to steal the spotlight. OLED displays from LG and Samsung will try to position themselves as the new technology to provide the TV industry with a shot in the arm.

Finally, this year’s show should signal the advent of wireless and dematerialization. There are some rumblings that the focus won’t be on the shiny and fancy new hardware, but rather their interoperability. Imagine a world where wires are no longer necessary, with information and applications being seamlessly shared between your phone, tablet, laptop, TV, and integrated into your car and home. Feel free to ooh and ahh, I know I did.

How to Prep for CES

  • Have a cool animation or promo on hand: The best way to build buzz around your product or company is to make your booth stand out from the other 2,700-odd exhibitors. Some sell or offer food and drinks, others a Zen lounge with masseuses to help relax in-between sessions and demos. The Postal Service even ships back people’s schwag for free. So try to think of original and fun ways to connect with attendees, while promoting your brand in a positive manner.
  • Communicate – a lot: Promos are cool, but you know what’s cooler? Having people know about them beforehand and making it a point to show up at your booth. In addition to sending out targeted emails in the weeks leading up to the event, having an ad in the show guide and whatnot, you can leverage your social networks to make your presence known ahead of and during the show.
  • Work on that agoraphobia problem: The organizers are expecting over 140,000 attendees, including journalists, retail buyers, investors and industry analysts, split between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the adjacent Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (the old Hilton). So if you followed our previous tips to a tee, expect a lot of traffic!
  • Have a cool and efficient way to collect leads: In addition to collecting business cards the old-fashioned way, you can request a badge scanner from the show organizers, if possible with a printer so you can jot down notes about the person you just talked to. You can also have a laptop or tablet handy (it is CES after all) for attendees to sign up for more info on the spot. If you plan on following up by email (and we know you do – wink, wink), make sure to ask for permission first.

Ready for the craziness that is CES? Share your tips on how you plan to attend the show and, if you live to tell the tale, feel free to do so in the comments!

© 2012 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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