What it's like to attend the world's biggest tech conference for the first time

I spoke with CES veterans to learn tips for surviving the intimidating trade show

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Have you ever been in a crowded place, like a shopping mall or a sports arena, and felt alone? Surrounded by strangers, you sense a barrier, both invisible and impenetrable. That's how I felt my first day of CES, the largest consumer electronics show on Earth. I chose to break the barrier.

With the help of the Verge video team, who are my bottomless well of courage, I patrolled the halls for marketing gurus and corporate liaisons, people with years of CES experiences on their mind and public speaking training in their soul. Many people shirked my grasp for human contact; a few humored a conversation; one or two provided legal council in a theoretical murder scenario involving myself and a renegade self-driving car.

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Ces can be a profoundly lonely place

CES is an intimidating and disorienting battle pit where billion dollar corporations fight for the affection of the elder gods. To survive, you must take a halberd to the thin membrane of social niceties. You must absorb confidence and guidance from your peers. When I opened myself to others, I learned how to speak the local language, pretend I belong, and eat at Joel's sandwich joint, located near the rear bathrooms in Central Hall.

It's like they say at CES, "No man is an island. Oh, you're interested in islands? I know the perfect drone for your next tropical vacation!"