If you feel like books and podcasts just aren't enough for you, then take it to the next level and attend a conference. Find new opportunities, get inspired, and meet some of the world's most creative and trendsetting people in your field.
Why Should You Attend a Conference?
As an entrepreneur, a founder, a business owner and, let's face it, a human being, it's pretty easy to get hyped about going to one (or several) of the many, many amazing conferences around the world. Think about it. You get to pack a bag, go to the airport, fly somewhere cool and attend an impressively huge event overflowing with talks from genius business leaders, inspiring entrepreneurs and potential investors, partners and customers. That is until you see the prices. As an early-stage startup, perhaps still bootstrapping, the expenses for attending business conferences are most often massive. Still, going to the right ones can be of equally massive value to you. But how do you know which conference to go to? And why should you even go?
Here are some pointers for you to consider, before booking your tickets:
- Why am I going?
There's a difference between going because a trip to a big sunny city sounds amazing, and going because you want to (and need to) present your startup to the other attendees. Not that one reason is better than the other per se, but if you're on a tight budget, the last reason might be the most valid. So, why are you going? Are you looking for investors? Customers? A specific pieceof new knowledge?
- What is the specific thing, I want to bring back home?
When you know, why you're going, the next step is to set a goal for what you want to bring back home. There's a difference between casually talking to a potential customer at the coffee stand and bringing home 10 phone numbers to call.
- Will my target audience attend?
To choose the right conference, you need to know if your target audience, that is the people you want to meet and talk to, are going tobe there. If not, then you probably won't benefit much from going yourself. At least not compared to the costs.
How Should Startups Prepare for a Conference?
Again, it's completely up to you if you want to attend a conference just for the fun of it. Lord knows, we would too. But if you're going with a specific goal in mind and if you want to make sure you get your money's worth, you need to prepare.
Depending on why you're going, here are some things to prepare for:
- Your elevator pitch
This is the ultra short version of the "what" and "why" of your startup. What do you do? Why do you do it? What are your business ambitions and how will your startup change the world? Write it down, keep it short (30-90 seconds) and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
- Prepare some demo material
At least if you're getting a booth to present your startup at the event. If not, then at least make sure you have some business cards with you.
- Study the schedule
Attending a conference is like attending a f
estival. There will be way more things on the agenda than what you'll be able to attend. Make sure you go through the program, prioritize you're must-attends and your nice-to-attends, then make a plan for yourself.
Alright, so without further ado, here's a list of the coolest, most inspiring and most valuable conferences, divided into categories.