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NAB 2017: Survival Strategies & Cocktails
Make it through the long days at Las Vegas Convention Center with these tips—and start your evenings off right with happy hours on the show floor and at other venues
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Sometimes I regret registering as press for NAB—mostly in the mornings in March and April when I open my email. There is no lack of PR firms vying for attention for the companies they are representing. In fact, it really is a little much. Don't get me wrong, these are hard-working people, for the most part, doing their job to make noise for their clients, and a good number of them even have a quota for how many meetings they can set up with press. It takes me a solid 1-2 hours daily just to figure out what emails are actually relevant and important, not to mention actually personal. But hey, that's part of the deal and the positive side is you do get a flavor of what to expect from the exhibitors as a whole for the coming show.

So far, I've seen some interesting products ready to take a swing at HEVC and hearing lots of noise about OTT. The latest and greatest trend for emerging businesses in our space is most certainly analytic platforms. It's really no wonder, either: OTT is a cost center but a must-do and retaining eyeballs and cutting costs is the key way to soften the blow. Analytics can most certainly help identify inefficiencies and trends.

Central Hall during NAB 2016. (Photo by Robb Cohen Photography and Video)

But let's face it, NAB is noisy. Really noisy. And, as I've said in year's past, its a war of the wallet more than anything else. The mentality has been that the biggest booth at the front of the hall wins. Is that how you see a trade show? While the impact of a company willing to spend to get your attention is commendable, how much is enough and how much is too much? I have this conversation with vendors every year. This year, more pre-show conversations are showing companies walking away from that fight and turning to more targeted ways of reaching potential customers. I'm not saying that's the definitive trend—NAB isn't slowing down anytime soon—but for many of the people I've talked to, there seems to be some more conservative spending in the hunt to find customers.

Personally, I do enjoy NAB and I find it productive. Even though it's a marathon of back-to-back meetings, and like most people, I never get see everyone I'd have liked to. Whether you are a vendor, or a customer, I have a couple of recommendations on how to have a fruitful show…

Eat

Pack granola bars. You might think you are going to have lunch, but you are not. And if someone does offer you a sandwich, take it. It may be your last meal before you get back to your hotel or that dinner meeting that's on your calendar. Oh, and vendors - don't eat at your booth, just step away for a few minutes and eat it like Golem would a fish. Otherwise, you may only get one bite before the next booth visitor fires up a "conversation" with one eye on your swag. Remember, you can't fly without fuel.

Hydrate

Carry water. The AC in your hotel is going to turn your throat into melba toast. If you don't hydrate, you are going to sound like Will Arnett's Lego Batman by day two. Water keeps your head clear too, and you'll want to be on your A-game.

Shoes

It's great to look good, but it's more important to feel good and believe me when I say it all starts with shoes. You can always tell a seasoned NAB'er who's wearing running shoes. Are you gellin'? I sure am.

Carry Pain Reliever

Sure, it's great to have on hand if you didn't follow rules 1-3 but it's really for the people you meet who need it more than you. Be there for your team, come packing.

Bring an External Battery for Your Phone

Do yourself a favor and don't bother checking your email while you are on the floor. It will still be there later. You are there to see people in person. Nothing is more disturbing than watching booth staff on their phones when a customer is standing unengaged. However, the last thing you want is to run out of juice. You need to be reachable the entire day, every day.

Take Notes

Personally I write on the back of business cards, unless I get handed one that's all plastic and won't hold ink. Then the trusty notepad comes out. Is that too old school? Well, I'd like to see you try dictating to Siri on South Lower.

Meet New People

The best person you'll see at NAB this year is the one you haven't met yet—I guarantee that. The best book I never read was by Keith Ferrazzi, called Never Eat Alone. The title alone impacted me years ago, and it's probably the best advice in business I ever got. And what better way to meet random people than the happy hours on the exhibit floor and social events that follow. I'm a big fan of happy hours, especially when I get to meet the people behind the passion of the companies where they work. It means much more to me than just another press release or irrelevant mass email meeting request in my in-box. Enjoying this industry and the people in it are what it's all about to me, and I hope, you as well.

Here's a few happy hours and parties for this year. If you know of any others, please do include your comments (please no content events, only social/networking events). Hopefully I'll see you at one of them. Remember, the secret word is "banana" and I'll know you read this.

Monday, April 24

4-6 p.m. SAS Audio, N8328—Champagne, wine/cheese, snacks reception

4-6 p.m. MediaSilo/Wiredrive, SL12705—RSVP   (also Tuesday at 4 p.m.)

5:30 p.m.—Tools On Air, SL14813—Hosting the band Two Ways Home from London

6:30-9:30 p.m. Verizon's “View From the Top” Networking Event at TopGolf—RSVP

Tuesday, April 25

7:30 a.m. Elemental Technologies 4K Charity Run (yeah, no cocktails really at this one, unless you are on some kind of mission)—Register here

4-6 p.m. Encompass Cocktail Reception Presented by Wipro, SU2324

5-7 p.m. Aspera Cocktail Reception, SL8124

6:30-9:30 p.m. Seventeenth Annual Ben Waggoner Compression Party, Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel—RSVP

5:30-7:00 p.m. MediaMelon, drinks at the Wynn—RSVP

Wednesday, April 26

4-6 p.m. HLS.js Happy Hour with Mux, Bitmovin, Unified Streaming & Peer 5, SU7607—RSVP

6:30-9:30 p.m.: DASH-IF Networking Event, The Bank at Bellagio—RSVP

Last, but not least, don't forget to pull down StreamingMedia's Who To See at NAB here.

And visit our "Best of NAB" live webcast from the show on Wed, April 26 at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT—details here