CES isn’t about tech

Photo credit: CNET

Social media isn’t about the tools, it’s about the relationships and connections that the tools enable.

It’s the same with CES and similar conferences. They aren’t about consumer electronics or the sessions or the swag. The real value is in the relationships and connections (personal, business and both) that can be developed or rekindled.

Via twitter, I connected with Sarah Austin and attended the opening keynote with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly and got to learn about the amazing new technology Ford is putting in their cars. Think of a Batmobile designed for a digitally savvy James Bond. I never thought a keynote speech could sell me on a car but I really want a new Ford tricked out with all the latest technology.

Through Sarah, I got to meet Scott Monty (head of social media at Ford Motor Co.), Ian Sohn and Karen Untereker, both cool people who work for Ogilvy.

While working the Altec Lansing (client) booth during the middle of the day, I met a bunch of cool people, including customers and other Altec employees I hadn’t met yet. I also met Cory, who dominated our Rockband contest and is better at that game than I am at anything.

At 3pm, I headed up to the Kodak K-Zone booth to listen to Chris Brogan, Jeff Pulver, Adam Ostrow and Daniel Brusilovsky do a great and fun little panel on what the year 2025 will look like. Afterward, I got to reconnect with Chris and meet Justin Levy and Colin Bower in person for the first time – both are super smart guys.

After wrapping up the booth, I met my good friend Donavon Roberson from Zappos for dinner and we both met John Bergquist, a good online friend, in person for the first time. I also met their three of their friends, who I will surely be keeping in touch with.

It’s great to learn about and enjoy the 3D TVs and underwater HD cameras but the gadgets will be different and new and shiny next year. Focus on the relationships and connections you make. They are what endures.

I wouldn’t trade the meetings & connections I had yesterday for any gadget at CES.

(Except a new Ford with the SYNC & myFord technology. Sorry guys, it’s just too cool.)

Enjoy CES and if you’re still here and want to connect, I’m here.

9 thoughts on “CES isn’t about tech”

  1. When I shared this morning that I was going to SWSW, a friend of mine asked me "What do people get out of SXSW besides the parties." She was genuinely interested in seeing past the hype.

    I shot her a couple of emails about my goals, but what it really boils down to is relationships. In my email to her I said "Being in the conference industry, I understand that some live events have the power to be game-changers. This is why I went to #140conf L.A. Because of that event, I got closer to Sarah. And Sarah introduced me to C.C. and C.C. introduced me to Jennifer . . .and Jennifer is about to change my life…"

    It's not about the content, though I go to learn. It's not about the swag . . . so much of it is useless. It's about making new connections and deepening the relationships we already have.

    Excellent post.

  2. Thanks, Em. Your comment is even better than my post.

    "Because of that event, I got closer to Sarah. And Sarah introduced me to C.C. and C.C. introduced me to Jennifer . . .and Jennifer is about to change my life…"

    Love that.

  3. It was great getting to hang out with you at CES! I enjoyed walking around and talking geek for a while. The speak is awesome too! Looking forward to more convo in the very near future!

  4. Sounds like a good day man! Semi-related note: Ford is doing some GREAT things. Not only have I been impressed with their distributed channel approach to marketing (TheFordStory.com), but I recently (randomly) rented a Ford Escape and fell in love with it!

    Emily is right on about relationships too. The relationships I've made in just the last year have paid immense dividends and I look forward to every event to see who I'll meet next.

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