Why I attend Trade Shows and Conferences

Well it is that time of year again!  Tomorrow morning I will be jumping on a plane to head to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  If you are going to CES make sure you check on my guide on how to survive the show.  Conferences and trade shows are great to go to, but many people do not attend them.  One of the main reasons is the cost.  Flying anywhere these days is not cheap and renting a condo for a week in Vegas isn’t either.  I used to try to justify the costs of the trip by telling myself the coverage would bring more people to ThinkComputers, but it is so much more than that.  So here is why I attend trade shows and conferences.

Facetime with Companies
If your business is online there is a pretty good chance most of your communication is done via e-mail.  While this is not a bad thing it is always good to meet people in person.  If someone actually knows you they will be more likely to help your business or want to do business with you.  This is one of the most crucial parts about attending these events and will really help you grow your business.

Networking
Say you are attending a conference about online marketing, there is probably a good chance there are people there who are in the same business as you.  Or maybe they do something completely different, but you meet and really hit it off.  This could be a future business partner.  Networking at conferences is just as important as attending the sessions.  Don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask them what they do.  It is always good to meet new people in your industry.

Learn Something
This is a given if you are going to a conference.  You are going to attend sessions and hopefully learn something new that will benefit your business.  Really pay attention during sessions because remember you (or your company) is paying for it.  Even if you are going to a conference you are going to get a hands on experience with products or something similar.  Make sure you take home some valuable information.  Most likely if you are attending a conference you traveling so this is another way to learn something.  How do you think I know so much about Vegas?

Seeing Friends & Getting out of Town
Working in the same office day in and day out can be very annoying.  Often you may feel stuck or that you need new surroundings.  A conference is the perfect cure, it gets you out of town!  Along with that if you are attending a conference there are probably people in your industry that you are friends with that are also attending.  For me CES is the time of year when I see all of my friends who work in the tech industry or that run a tech site.  I normally only see them once or twice a year so it is a great time to catch up.

Coverage
As I said I used to justify my trips with the whole “coverage” thing, but as you can see it is much more than that.  But you should cover or blog about the conferences you attend.  I would assume many people would be interested and it can serve as an excuse to get your company to send you to trade shows or conferences.  Also if you cover conferences you can most likely get a press / media pass to the event for free!

So I’m off to Vegas tomorrow, make sure you follow me on twitter to see what I’m up to all this week during CES.

Looking Towards 2013…

Well today is the last day of 2012. Can you believe how fast this year has gone by? At the end of 2011 I told myself I really needed to concentrate on my business and work harder. I think I have done some things to better my business, but I did not fully accomplish everything. I think if you run your own business you always feel this way. I am in no way disappointed in 2012, I believe it was a big step in the right direction and I have positive thoughts going into 2013. I am not going to call these resolutions, but things I plan on working on in 2013.

Productivity – I think it happens to everyone, but sometimes I literally sit in front of my computer and get nothing done. I made an effort this year to start working smarter and I need to continue to do that in 2013. Also if I am not doing work I need to walk away from the computer and do something else.

Getting Ahead – The way ThinkComputers works I try to stay ahead. It is so stressful to be writing the review the same day as it needs to be posted. Towards the end of the year I’ve got behind and I am only 1 day ahead, which is still stressful. My goal would be to be a week ahead of content, let’s hope I can maintain that in 2013.

Blog More – Sometimes I forget about this blog, but it really is a great outlet for me to talk about what is on my mind. It also serves as a personal journal and something I can look back on from time to time. So in 2013 I want to keep up with this blog

Be More Active – I can’t even tell you the last time I was at the gym. I go running, but that is not enough. Once I get ahead on my work I really plan on working out much more.

Learn More – This year I really did not learn too much. There are some things that I could learn to better my business like SEO and a better understanding of online marketing etc. I really want to dedicate some time to learning things that will better my business.

A Guide to Surviving the Consumer Electronics Show

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As the year comes to an end that means the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is right around the corner. I’ve been going to CES since 2006 and I have learned quite a lot since that first trip where I was totally clueless. This guide should help you survive CES even if you have attended the show before.

Make use of the Monorail – This is one of the most useful things during CES. The Las Vegas monorail will take you from most of the hotels on the strip to the convention center…in 6 minutes. No taxi is going to get you there faster than that, hell you will most likely wait in a taxi line longer than that. A 3-day pass for the monorail is around $30-40, you could easily spend more than that per day on taxi’s. My first year I spent close to $300 on taxi’s just the first 2 days of CES!

Wear comfortable shoes – CES is the largest trade show in North America, which means there is going to be a lot to see. This means you are going to be doing a lot of walking. Make sure you have comfortable shoes or you are going to end up with blisters on your feet. This has happened to me quite a few times.

Make sure your room has a fridge – Most hotels will give you a free mini-fridge if you request one. This will allow you to store drinks etc. You don’t want to have to leave your hotel late at night to go get a cold drink. This just gives you easy access.

Find out where companies are located before you schedule your meetings – The Las Vegas convention center is HUGE! Before you schedule your meetings find out where the company you will be meeting with is located. You don’t want to have to walk across the entire convention center 10 times for different meetings. Also many companies are setup in hotels so schedule accordingly.

Take advantage of the free lunch / dinners – If you are a member of the press you are provided with a free lunch each day of CES, take advantage of it! CES is a busy week and you can forget about eating because there is so much going on. Without food your body is going to shut down and you don’t want that to happen during CES. Many of the events have free food as well.

Attend the Parties – There are normally 3-4 parties a night during CES. Even if you are tired I suggest attending them. First because they are the best networking events and second because they will allow you to wind down at the end of the day.

I hope this guide helps you survive CES and if you will be in Vegas in January let me know!

25 Things I’m Thankful for in 2012

With 2012 winding down I have been taking a look back on the year and I have realized I really do have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve had some great experiences, met some amazing people and even learned a few things. Looking back there are some things and people that made my year pretty awesome. So here is my list of 25 things I’m thankful for in 2012 in no particular order.

1. Family – Sometimes you don’t realize how important family is till you need them and my family has always supported me in what I’ve done.

2. WordPress – All of my websites are based on WordPress. Since I really do not code that much wordpress makes it much easier to setup a website or even a business in less than an hour!

3. Nik – My friend Nik and I have been hanging out a lot lately. He is a great person to bounce ideas off of and he has been reviewing gaming peripherals for ThinkComputers this year. People really enjoy his take on gaming accessories.

4. Instagram – Before there was instagram I had to post photos on twitter and facebook separately and that was just annoying. Instagram makes things so much easier and is an awesome app. I know all of you love my #foodporn photos!

5. The ThinkComputers Community – I really made an effort this year to build a community around ThinkComputers. Whether it was on twitter, facebook, youtube or even on the ThinkComputers Forums. I want to thank everyone that has become part of the ThinkComputers community.

6. StartUpTown – I spent a good amount of time at StartUpTown this year. It is a great place to work from and the people there are just awesome.

7. Spotify – All the music I want anywhere? Since Spotify launched in the US I have been hooked!

8. Haeley, Katie, Kimmi – These girls have simply been awesome. We all have become so close over this past year and we always have so much fun together!

9. Mailchimp – I finally moved away from dadamail and signed up for Mailchimp. It is a great way to manage an e-mail list / newsletter and has just made things so much easier for me.

10. Adam Werkmeister – My buddy Adam was nice enough to invite me to go on vacation with him this past year. The vacation was just what I needed and was the perfect motivation to finish out the year strong.

11. Payday The Heist – If there was one video game I played the most this year it had to be Payday The Heist. It is a blast I mean what can’t you like about robbing banks?

12. Schenley Park – I love living right by Schenley Park. Whether it is to exercise or just go for a walk its a great place to go and get my mind off work.

13. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy – This has to be my favorite beer. It is the perfect summer beer and I order it pretty much everywhere I go during the summer!

14. Travel Blogs – After my vacation I really got into travel blogs, more specifically digital nomad blogs. Some of the ones I really enjoy are: Making It Anywhere, Location 180, Never-Ending Footsteps, & Legal Nomads.

15. Audio Books – Another thing I discovered on vacation was audio books. I think this is the best way to digest information and “read” a book. Nothing is more relaxing than sitting on a beach and listening to an audio book.

16. HootSuite – If you manage more than one social media profile Hootsuite is what you need to be using! It is completely web-based and you can manage Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even Linkedin profiles. The best feature is the ability to schedule posts.

17. Nakama – You will normally find me here on Monday nights having a late dinner with friends. Amazing sushi and great bartenders, if you want good Japanese food in Pittsburgh this is where you need to go.

18. John Chow – One of my good friends and someone I can always count on for business advice.

19. Pho – Simply one of my favorite foods. Nothing is better than a nice large bowl of warm pho! If im not feeling well or just want to feel refreshed pho is the perfect thing!

20. ThemeForest & VideoHive – I am in no way a designer, actually I’m horrible at those things. ThemeForest is a great place to find quality wordpress / website themes. VideoHive is just like the same thing, but for video. That is where I got the intro for ThinkComputers videos.

21. Google Docs – I’m not sure how I survived before without Google Docs. Whether I am writing something, or using the form function for a contest Google Docs is awesome. Oh yeah and you can access all of your files anywhere there is an internet connection.

22. Panera Bread – There are really not a whole lot of places in Pittsburgh where you can get good food and work on your laptop for an afternoon. Panera Bread is normally the place I go when I need to get out of my home office and work.

23. Dropbox – Dropbox is the easiest way to share files. I use it for both personal and business applications and I love that I can access my important files wherever there is an internet connection.

24. My Health – While I am not in the best shape of my life, things could be a lot worse. Being healthy is something many people take for granted so I am happy that I am healthy.

25. Great Friends & Good Times – At the end of a long work day nothing is better than going out and spending time with friends. It just allows you to forget about all the stress of work. To all of my friends thanks for being so awesome in 2012!

I could add much more to this list, but I don’t want to go on and on. What were you thankful for in 2012?

Where Did November Go?

Seriously is it already December? Only 1 blog post last month…I am definitely not that happy about that. So what’s the deal? Well to put it simply I have been overworked, stressed and just plain busy. Although I cannot make excuses, I haven’t been working as smart and effective as I should be either.

First off this is the busy time of the year for ThinkComputers. Companies are releasing products for the holiday season so we have a lot of products in to review. I am still doing 95% of the reviews on ThinkComputers, sometimes I think I will never find enough good and reliable staff members to really contribute so I don’t have to write 3-4 reviews a week myself. So between writing the reviews, doing the unboxing videos and doing pretty much everything else for the site I am pretty busy.

Talking about writing I am having a hard time really concentrating. It’s amazing when I am in the zone and I can pump out reviews one after another. I’m not sure if I need a change on scenery or what, but this is not a good thing. I think with everything going on I am just stressing too much and I can’t really relax to get into that writing mood.

Another thing with concentrating is that I am not being effective at all. Many days I have not been making a to-do list so I sit at my computer and complete easy tasks that really are not that important. I should be getting the high priority tasks done, but I am guilty of being lazy. I really need to stick to a firm schedule and stop being lazy.

For a good while now I was doing really good. I would be pretty productive during the day and before I would go to bed I would sit on my laptop and read travel blogs, sort of like my sanctuary. I could forget about work and think about traveling to Thailand or somewhere else. Now by the end of the day I am just exhausted and want to pass out.

So why am I telling you this? Well one I knew I needed to write a blog post and two I think it is good to write about it. That way I am able to define the problem and solve it. Also I wanted to give everyone a little update, hopefully you won’t have to wait another month for another one!