Every industry has its must-attend events--the annual to-do that requires nearly a year of planning. For OtterBox, that event is the International Consumer Electronics Show--commonly referred to as CES.

The event is the largest for the consumer electronics industry and is where most major brands make new product announcements, new brands get a foothold and industry-watchers come to experience a little shock-and-awe.

CES has always been a good show for us. We used to go looking for new opportunities. Now, opportunity often comes looking for us. We've reached that tipping point.

I've been attending CES for more than a decade with the goal of boosting the OtterBox brand, meeting new partners and introducing the next thing in mobile device protection. The show has been a staple for us, but as the company has evolved so have our presence and objectives there.

1. Plan Every Minute

In the early days, we used to have to trip people as they walked by to get them to stop. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but the small 10×10 booths we occupied off the beaten path were no Mecca for anyone. We took advantage of our time at the show by planning meetings with potential partners. This was old-school face time. The influence of an in-person meeting remains amazingly powerful.

2. Stake a Claim

As the years passed and OtterBox grew, we were able to expand our presence and work our way into some of the more trafficked hallways of CES. With that came mounting pressure to make a splash. Whether it was a flashy booth, innovative new product, or exciting campaign, we wanted to give people who were unfamiliar with us a reason to visit and those that were another experience to remember.

3. Seek Innovation

As OtterBox grew, I found that I was able to 'go back to basics'--letting others take responsibility for a bulk of the meetings and presentations. CES offers me a chance to see what's new in the industry. That spark of inspiration usually comes from a small element or component of a new innovation--a new way of leveraging technology into our current offerings. While CES does boast some of the most elaborate (not to mention expensive) booths of the tradeshow circuit, it's not the flashy set-ups that I seek out. It's the basic 10×10, table-and-product set-up that I'm interested in. That's where innovation is flourishing.

For me, the event has come full-circle. Going back to where the start-up partners that are pooling their money to bring their garage-borne technology to the farthest flung hallways of the Las Vegas Convention Center have set up is nostalgic and strategic. We were there once and now get to experience in a different way--looking for potential partners, possible acquisition targets, or just a bit of inspiration.