Welcome To The Madhouse

It’s Internet World week. Forget that exercise regimen. Say adios to your sleep patterns. You think you need a healthy diet – like they say ’round these parts, Fuhgetaboutit!

That’s because Internet World in New York has replaced Comdex in Las Vegas as the “must-see” event of the trade show year. I covered my first Comdex in 1984, but I won’t bore you with any of those ‘back in my day’ stories (which I really should – you young whippersnapper!)

Suffice it to say there are two key differences between now and then.

Since Internet World happens in just one location – the Javits Convention Center – you won’t be running any marathons. Also, since we are talking about the Internet, you shouldn’t worry so much about seeing demos as seeing people.

With those few caveats extended, hearken to my experience with these lessons for surviving the week:

  • Don’t over-program yourself. I may have already done this, and offer my apologies in advance to any appointments I fail to keep, especially tomorrow. (Ann needs her copy, OK?) Don’t ask yourself whether you need to see a technology in making appointments. Make sure you’re talking to the people you need to do business with this week.

  • Pack light for the day. I’ve got to keep my laptop with me, but if you don’t, leave it at the hotel. Even if you try not to take press kits, you’ll still find yourself burdened with tchotchkes (little gifts) and papers by the end of the day. If you don’t have a Palm, print out your schedule and keep it in your pocket.
  • Bring lots of business cards. This is something of a contradiction to my previous point, but you don’t want to come up short, for the week or a day. I tend to pull my cards out of my left coat pocket, and place cards I get in the right coat pocket. If you can write a note on the back of those cards as you get them, they might be useful to you.
  • Look for the crowds. At any big show there are always a few booths that draw enormous crowds. Spend the time to find out what the excitement is about. If it’s a celebrity or cash giveaway, move on. If they’re all watching the demo intently, you may be seeing the Next Big Thing.
  • Limit your goals. The Internet has too many sub-industries for you to see it all. Decide what you care about most – email marketing, or search tools, or Intranet tools. Cover your beat first.
  • Push three times. Your first shift may include a morning meeting and some booth visits. Your second shift will run from lunch until the show floor closes. “Hostility suites” (sorry, hospitality suites) and “food frenzies” (vendor parties) represent your third shift. Try not to party too hearty – you’ve got to do it again tomorrow.

Maybe you have some other good hints. Pass them along and let’s share them. The only place this show can grow to is Las Vegas, and if you think life is hard now, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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