Making New Connections: InfoComm 2023 and Beyond

Every year, I write a column about what I experienced at InfoComm. In 2023, I made a large number of new acquaintances from June 13-16 by visiting many exhibitor booths, some sponsored events, a dinner, my own happy hours and participating in a streaming video.

Let’s review what it’s like to make connections at one of the largest trade shows in our industry as I walk you through each of the days I was in Orlando.

Tuesday, June 13

I made and established all connections of this day at two events: the Sony Press Event and the Sixteen:Nine and AVIXA Networking Mixer.

First of all, these events were great because they had people from all corners of the industry there. I made some new acquaintances and spent time with a number of people I knew (Thank you Sony!).

michael henry brian sony event
Henry Mestre from AKRF, Brian Gorg from DSF and me with the first of many drinks that night.

I spoke to Dan Ferrisi, editor at “Commercial Integrator” whom I first met when he was the assistant editor at “Sound & Communications” magazine. Dan published an August 2014 article about one of my large NYC executive boardroom technology projects for a law firm. I also talked to David Pequeno from Sony (we worked together in the DSF booth at the May 2022 NRF show).

Sixteen: Nine & AVIXA Networking Mixer at Vu Studios — During the second of my events for the day, I spoke to many people and I even made a new acquaintance, Michael Kuzenka from Vu Studios in Orlando. (Thank you David Haynes, AVIXA and Vu Studios.)

A moment to appreciate the AV in this space: The studio utilized an INFiLED 155’ wide LED video wall with amazing 3D content from Render Impact (see below).

At the event, I finally met Todd Rickenbach from Render Impact in person after at least 20 video calls over the past three years. 

Wednesday, June 14

During the first day of the show, I attended one of the AVIXA Xchange Live sessions, “Future Tech Meetup & Networking” with Sanj Surati from Tiger Heart and Chanan Averbuch from Primeview (whom I have known and worked with for 10 years).

A quick note just for fun: One of my personal highlights (thank you Tom Shelburne for the invite) at InfoComm was the virtual ride that utilized a Unilumin video wall in the Vu Studios booth.

Quick note #2: Yes, I took acting classes at Ithaca College, as you can probably tell from the video.

I hosted my first happy hour of the week (promptly at 4 p.m.) in the shared booth with Gene Hamm from DigiChief (Thanks again Gene!) and we had about 10 people attend.

One of my connections made at this event includes Leah Prewett, marketing executive from the B-Tech AV Mounts team. I spotted her getting ready for the event across the aisle from the DigiChief booth.

Jake Berg from Render Impact, Henry Mestre from AKRF, Todd Rickenbach from Render Impact with their galaxy animation playing on the 70” display in the background.

The networking doesn’t end there! That night, I attended four separate events sponsored by: Aurora Multimedia, EAW, Planar and Starin. I ran into some people whom I have worked with in the past and a couple of people I met for the first time, including:

Brian McGlinchey and Travis Heitchew from Diversified
Brian Studwell from Lightware
Burt Feldman from Mersive
Jared Stabiner from Next/Now
John Cook and Mark Grassi from NV5
Doris Chen from Yealink sat down and introduced herself while we were listening to the band playing, which I did appreciate.

Thursday, June 15

On this day, I joined an episode of rAVe [TV] with Gary Kayye and Steph Beckett from rAVe to talk about what I had experienced at InfoComm thus far. Why not use this as an opportunity to meet and network with the other guests on the show? I met Alexis La Broi, director at Midpoint, for the first time and we were able to talk as she appeared on the segment right before me.

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Note: Of course I mentioned the Vu Studios virtual ride on the rAVe [TV] segment. You can check that out up above.

Finally, happy hour! I hosted my second 4 p.m. happy hour event in our shared booth with DigiChief — this time about 20 people attended, most of whom I invited prior to the show, and some were from neighboring booths. (Shout out to the Wachter team as they came by with eight people in their group! Also, thanks to Scott Plesh from Vconn Digital Interactive for stopping by and remembering that we met over three years ago at the NYC Business Expo.)

Now, I’ve talked about this before, but you might remember that one of the best networking opportunities is over dinner. This particular dinner took place later on Thursday night at Charley’s Steak House with RulloTech: 

Except for Susan, everyone else I met here were brand-new connections:

Susan Rullo
RulloTechJohn McGrath
ATR TreehouseBill Murray
ATR TreehouseHector Morel
ATR TreehouseLaurence Coch
ATR TreehouseSean Laporte
Cardone SolomonGreg Suchomel
CommLink IntegrationEvan Landry
For the RecordJoe Commare
For the RecordJaime Calitto
Interstate Electrical Services Corp.John Bonyman
Interstate Electrical Services Corp.Sean Lynch
LiveWireDave Hudzik
Solarus TechMitch Pessin
Mitch with his “birthday” ice cream.

We even all bonded over a hilarious misunderstanding during which we accidentally convinced the waitress it was Mitch’s birthday. 

Friday, June 16

The last day of the show! I met with Marc Billings, CEO of Black Dove in the Primeview booth, which was arranged by Chanan Averbuch from Primeview (thanks again).

I also spent some time with the SiliconCore team in their booth as they were showcasing some unique 3D-type technology on their L-Shaped video wall (I wore the dark glasses for the full effect of looking over the railing edge, which made me a little dizzy, thus my right hand was “holding the rail”).

And you know since we were this close to show close, I had to squeeze in one more happy hour.  So, I lugged the remaining alcohol, juices and red cups to host my third InfoComm Happy Hour with my friend Howard Schilling and his associates in the Purelink Booth.

Checking out the L-shaped video wall at the SiliconCore Booth.

We met about 10 people who happened to be walking by the booth, none of whom I had ever seen before. One of them was Gus Harilaou from Cartoni USA. When I asked him if he wanted a drink; he smiled and said:

Sherry Wu from Tenveo also walked by and shared a drink with us, then walked back to the booth about 10 minutes later and gave me a Tenveo speakerphone, which I really appreciated. Finally, I made some new friends at the InfoComm Information Booth (spoke to them briefly twice a day to share my goals for each day).

In total, I spoke to well over 200 people during the week. Most I already knew and had not seen in a few years (some I had met only over video), but many I met for the first time. So, InfoComm 2023 was extremely productive for me. And if any of you are looking for networking advice, I just recommend attending as many events as you can. Spend time at each one just getting to know people. And if there are no events that day, host your own happy hour like I did! 

So as I prepare for the next trade show, DSE/LDI shows in Las Vegas from Dec. 2-5, I look forward to seeing how many new (and valuable) connections I can make there!  (But, of course, I also hope to see another “Maaaaaagiiiiiic act.”)