How much is attending conferences worth?
It has been quiet an exciting time ever since we started our first iteration in February this year. We have been covered in global press, got selected into one of the most prestigious tech accelerators, moved our office to NY, launched a brand new service (both on the web and iOS) and connected with the leaders in technology to just name a few. Apart from that we have been attending many conferences, of which TheNextWeb Conference and Techcrunch Disrupt are the biggest names.
Conferences are expensive, far away, the outcomes are hard to predict and often you can follow everything live through a stream online.
Is it therefor really worth your time, and money, to attend these events? I am sure many people will feel like a couple of thousands of dollars is slightly over-prized for 3 days of partying and collecting swag with fellow tech entrepreneurs.
This May we attended Techcrunch Disrupt in NY, an event which traditionally is recognized as one of the most important anual tech events. As a co-sponsor our investors had the possibility to let us have a table for the entire three day event, right next to the entrance to the main speaker room. Convinced that this was a golden spot we started out by addressing everybody who was passing by. Even though the response from the people we actually spoke with was good we came to find out that there weren’t many people interested in a chat. There weren’t actually so many people moving around at all.
Techcrunch Disrupt was packed with vendors, and therefor the amount of attendees was limited. Vendors felt obliged to continue hosting their own table and therefor the event (in my eyes) was lacking the necessary amount of interaction. Without taking action this would influence the outcomes of this conference in a very bad way. So how do you make the best out of an event like this?
- First of all, depending on the available wifi, it allows you to get some work done.
- Second of all, if you are with more, it is a great opportunity to go and find out what else is happening in the industry. Wander around and start conversations with likeminded people.
- Attend relevant lectures and ask as much intelligent questions as possible while mentioning your company name clearly. As many people watch the live streams and the room is filled with journalists this is a great way to get their attention.
- Have open discussions with fellow vendors in order to find partnerships or introductions.
- Try to, somehow, get your hands on the attendee and press list of the event.
- Get feedback. Many of the people who are there know the industry and the problems you are facing, make them believe in your product and let them help you make it better. Many of the people we have met are still talking about us, these are valuable ambassadors of your brand.
But not every event is like this, for a conference organizer the hard task is to find a perfect mix between vendors, attendees, press and investors to attend the event. TheNextWeb Conference in Amsterdam earlier this year really succeeded in that. We have been able to do all of the above and apart from that demo our product to many attendees, talk with investors who came to our table and as an additional bonus the press knew where to find us.
Attending conferences is good for many reasons, it allows you to stay up to date, get your name out there and if you can present or have a table it’ll help your enormously with building credibility and exposure. However make sure that you have done your homework, know who is coming and who you want to meet, who you want to listen to and what you will do when not many people will come to see you. Connect with people through Twitter before going and follow closely what is going on during the event.
In the end the success is often determined by how engaged, curious and interesting the crowd is!
And of course, after a long day of work, a beer is always a good idea …. we sure enjoyed it!