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Today’s Question: What are the best conferences, meetups, trade shows, etc., for entrepreneurs to attend?
FailCon is my favorite. It’s all about failing, but the idea of failing is reframed as an opportunity for success. What keeps a lot of people from succeeding is their fear of failure. If you attend this conference, you will realize your fear is baseless and all this time you have been scared of literally nothing. It’s liberating.
— Jesse Harrison, Zeus Legal Funding
2. LOGIN, Wolves Summit, and Slush
Most tech entrepreneurs are aware of LeWeb, Web Summit, and The Next Web. However, these conferences attract plenty of people who lack time for any meetings that last longer than five minutes. Additionally, ticket and accommodation prices are rather high.
On the other hand, conferences in emerging tech hubs such as the Scandinavian and Baltic countries are filled with interesting and enthusiastic participants at a fraction of the price while being delivered completely in English.
LOGIN conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, attracts more than 5,000 tech-savvy participants every May. Wolves Summit in Warsaw, Poland, and Slush in Helsinki, Finland, are the go-to places for the future CTOs and founders of tech companies in Europe. Networking seems a lot easier and more fun at these conferences when compared to the more established tech conferences in Europe.
— Uwe Dreissigacker, InvoiceBerry
ICON (Infusionsoft’s user conference) targets entrepreneurs and small business owners using the Infusionsoft CRM software. After attending my first ICON in March 2016, I would say that it’s a conference for all entrepreneurs, especially those interested in (online) marketing.
It’s a three-day conference held in Phoenix annually. Each day is jam-packed with three keynotes and three breakouts (two keynotes and one breakout on the last day). The last conference included speakers such as Ryan Deiss, David T. Fagan, Oren Klaff, Dave Ramsey, and Gary Vaynerchuk. Each breakout had 10-11 sessions to choose from. I attended sessions such as “Do It Yourself PR: Be Your Own Publicist” and “20 Small Business Marketing Hacks to Improve Lead Generation.”
With great speakers covering many topics, any entrepreneur could find a few key takeaways. I say that ICON is the best conference because of its value: Full rate is $499, early bird is $399, and super early bird (which they had last year) is $299. Even at full rate, it delivered twice the value of its price tag, if not more.
Did I mention all the after-parties?
— K.B. Lee, Ever Bamboo
4. The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Business and Leadership Conference
As an entrepreneur with a tight budget, I can really only attend one big conference out of town per year. For the last several years, I have gone to the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) annual Business and Leadership Conference. I
do believe that other minority supplier groups hold similar conference, but I attend this one since I am a certified LGBT Business Enterprise.
This conference is one of the best organized and run conferences I have attended, and I have been to hundreds over the course of my professional life. The wide range of valuable activities at this conference includes one-on-one matchmaker sessions with corporate buyers, a day-long business expo with a chance to have quick introductions to dozens of other large firms, workshops on various aspects of running a business more efficiently, and networking with other entrepreneurs to learn from them. All of these activities are extremely pertinent to my business success, making this an annual must-attend for me.
— Stan C. Kimer, Total Engagement Consulting
5. Small Business Expo
I’ve been to hundreds of conferences in my time, and the best for entrepreneurs is the Small Business Expo.
There are 11 of them every year in major cities. 90,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners participate in workshops, exhibits, networking events, “Ask an Expert” sessions – everything an entrepreneur needs to work smarter, more efficiently, and more productively.
The “titanium sponsor” is Powerteam International, and PI’s CEO Bill Walsh gives a great keynote about smart ways to set up and run your business. It appeals to a range of people, from budding entrepreneurs with big ideas to established businesses looking to make that next jump.
The expo is a goldmine of expertise and thought leadership and well worth your time and investment.
— Lou Altman, Next Level