The organizers for the 2016 NAB show estimate more than 100 thousand people will attend this year. To put that number into perspective, just imagine the largest football stadium in America filled to capacity with nothing but media and entertainment insiders.

That’s why NAB is the best networking opportunity of the year for our industry. And while there are going to be plenty of great exhibitions to check out, the best time to meet potential new customers and partners is during the social events going on all throughout the week.

Here is how to fill your calendar and make the most of your week in Las Vegas.

The Basics of Conference Networking

Master networkers and conference veterans can probably skip this section, but if you’re new to conferences and trade shows — especially shows of this magnitude — here are three tips that will help you make better connections with other attendees faster.


1. Start Networking Weeks Before You Actually Arrive

Journalist Rebecca Knight wrote a great piece for HBR last year on conference networking in which she spoke with Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, who brought up the idea of pre-introductions.

“Think about the people you would really like to get to know and then carve out time to accomplish that goal,” Gino told Knight, and put together a list of people you’d like to meet. You can do this in a basic Excel spreadsheet if that helps. Then, either send an introductory email or ask someone to make an introduction.

“There’s a lot of fear when presenting that no one will come to your session so the fact that you’re making the effort will be appreciated,” marketing strategy consultant Dorie Clark told Knight. If the person is a speaker, mention you’re attending her presentation. If the person is simply attending, ask whether you can meet for coffee or even attend a presentation together.


2. Keep a Pen Alongside Your Stash of Business Cards

Claire Repass, communications manager at hospitality software company Social Tables, has a tip that will make anyone look like a networking pro.

She recommends keeping a pen (and even some blank cards) with you so that when you meet people, you can jot down what you talked about and other any relevant information on the business cards they give you. And if they’ve run out of their own cards, you can use the blanks to write down their information.


3. You Don’t Need to Attend Every Single Event

When we say “make the most of your week in Vegas,” that doesn’t mean you need to feel compelled to always be on. It takes a special kind of person to go from presentation to presentation to dinner to after-party every day without running out of gas. If that’s not you, set aside time to recharge, to review the connections you’ve made and to figure out who else you’d like to meet.

“There really is a compulsion at conferences to feel like there’s so much there available to you and you should be maximizing every opportunity,” author Susan Cain tells The Week’s Jessica Hullinger. “I think the key thing is overcoming guilt.”


7 Events to Check Out at NAB This Year

Once you’ve done your homework and made it to Vegas with the necessary provisions, you’ll want to hit up some of the extracurricular events, which is the real secret to conference networking. Below are 7 great networking opportunities. You can also follow @nabshowparties for up-to-date listings of events, pre-parties and after-parties as NAB 2016 draws closer.

A note for international attendees: Some events will have a 21-and-up age limit. Bring your passport so the door staff will let you in.


April 15: Avid Connect’s Welcome Reception

The Avid Customer Association is holding a concurrent two-day event, Avid Connect, on that Saturday and Sunday at Wynn. The Friday evening before, there will be a welcome reception from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Go to the Avid Connect page for information on how to register.


April 17: Sports Video Group’s NAB Pre-Game Party

Sports Video Group, a 10-year-old community of sports broadcast professionals, will host a NAB pre-party with cocktails at 8 p.m. that Sunday night at Omnia nightclub in Caesar’s Palace. This one is for SVG members only. If you’re not already a member but are thinking of attending, you can apply for membership here.


April 17: The ImagineLIVE! Reception

Imagine Communications — alongside Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft — will host its annual ImagineLIVE! Reception from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that Sunday night at the Hard Rock’s pool area. Come for food, drinks, live music and one of the city’s best pools.


April 18: Media Motion Ball

The MediaMotion Ball has been one of the highlights on the NAB schedule for years. It takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Monday at the Monte Carlo, and dinner will be served at 7:00. Subsidized tickets are $55, and unsubsidized tickets are $105. Go to the MMB website to find out which ticket option you qualify for. Either way, book quickly. MMB predicts tickets will be sold out two weeks in advance.


April 19: 4K 4 Charity

Make sure to call it a night early Monday because the following morning is the 4K 4 Charity run. It begins at 7:30 a.m. at Sunset Park, and proceeds will benefit a couple of great causes: Mercy Corps and local charity The Shade Tree. If an early morning run sounds a little ambitious, you can still make a $15 donation to the charities via the run’s registration page.


April 19: Las Vegas SuperMeet

SuperMeet is your best chance this week — and maybe at any other time — to discuss the details of collaborative workflows over cocktails. The event runs from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Rio’s Pavilion Ballroom, but it might be worth arriving early for the Digital Showcase, which starts at 4:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $15, and there is a $5 discounted ticket for students and teachers.


April 21: Drinks in The Pub at the Monte Carlo

End NAB on a high note with informal drinks at The Pub at the Monte Carlo. This is a casual event where you might not find too many people actively networking — it’s mostly people dropping by and hanging out over dinner and drinks while they wait for their flights. Grab a drink, celebrate the end of a busy week, and just enjoy.

images by: ©rawpixel/123RF Stock Photo, Thomas Martinsen, ©photo7/123RF Stock Photo