There are so many great ways to learn and sharpen your skills these days. You can read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch how-to videos, and attend webinars, just to name a few. So, why should an entrepreneur spend time and money on a conference or workshop?
There are lots of reasons! Here are a few.
Why Attend a Conference as an Entrepreneur?
To meet experts and influencers in your field face to face
Not only the speakers and conference staff, but other attendees can provide excellent networking opportunities to expand and grow your business. You will certainly feed off of spending time with like-minded individuals in the high energy conference environment.
To get tips & tools from the pros
The internet provides so an overwhelming amount of information right at our fingertips. How do we organize it? How do we know what products and services to spend our time on? While new tools and products can be viewed online, it’s nice to get a hands on demonstration from the creator, and be able to ask questions that are relevant to your business. A well run conference will help curate new ideas and help your business grow.
To learn new things
This is an obvious one! But if you do decide to attend a conference, I urge you to pick a few sessions or workshops that just “sound interesting”. Preferably ones that don’t directly relate to what you do every day. Some of the best sessions I’ve attended at conferences were those random sessions that I wasn’t particularly sold on. For example, at the last conference I went to, I attended a lecture by Scott Stratton, an expert in viral social marketing. As a designer, I wasn’t particularly interested in viral and social marketing, but I must confess that he changed the way I approach marketing for my business. I’ve developed such a huge interest in online marketing after hearing him speak!
To get out of your comfort zone
Learning in a new environment and networking with others may be a bit out of your comfort zone. Some of us are born networkers, and for others this doesn’t come easily. Attending a conference will give you the chance to step out of your comfort zone and meet other like-minded people that are in the same boat.
To invest in yourself and the success of your business
Being an entrepreneur or a freelancer can be a lonely life. You spend a lot of time on your own, working in a bubble. Attending a conference is an investment: an investment in yourself. In your career. In your business. Plus, you work hard, and deserve to have a little fun!
Great Conferences for Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups & Small Business Owners
Below I’ve compiled a list of some cool conferences geared toward entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small business owners. There’s plenty to choose from: anything from blogging, online marketing, and SEO, to straight up conferences for entrepreneurs. I’ve even included some conferences specifically for women (girl power!), and conferences to help you improve your website.
Secret Knock (Entrepreneurs)
This event began in the living room of its founder, Greg Reid. Now several years old, the bi-annual event is an experience where you get to mix, meet and mingle with the experts, rather than just watch them on stage. Find like-minded people who are actually living their message, and achieving the results they share about.
- TED-style presentations from individuals who are pioneers of change and advocates of collaboration.
- Space is limited and it is exclusive. Attendees must apply and be pre-screened and approved to attend in advance.
Small Business Expo (Entrepreneurs, Start-Ups)
If you are a small business owner, entrepreneur, start-up or are just eager to start a small business, this is an annual event that you cannot miss!
- Held in 14 Major Cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle
- Excellent business networking opportunities such as Speed Networking, How-Tos, Top Trending Business Topics, Workshops, Seminars, a Business Card Exchange, and more.
Next Gen Summit (Young Entrepreneurs)
This conference is for millennial generation entrepreneurs. It’s the first conference for young entrepreneurs, by young entrepreneurs, and considered 1 of 7 best conferences for entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
- NextGen Summit’s inaugural event in 2015 helped startups raise more than $1 million, produced dozens of partnerships, and addressed an estimated 17,000 in-person and live-stream attendees.
- Highlights include a Shark Tank panel comprising over $100 MM of investable assets, a globally-acclaimed speaker panel including founders of billion dollar brands, and more.
CEO Space (Entrepreneurs)
Held 5 times a year for almost 30 years, CEO Space is a business growth accelerator conference and touts itself as the world’s central catalyst for Cooperative Capitalism.
- Addresses entrepreneurs of all ages, including teens. Events occur five times per year.
- Sessions on legal, tax, strategic planning sequencing, marketing, branding, social media and sales.
- The organization is a highly powered advocate for crowdfund investing and provides high-level mentorship for team members.
- The event is known for assisting entrepreneurs with traditional funding as well, and boasts several billion dollars in successful funding over the years.
Held in the fall each year in a different location, this conference provides female business owners with ideas, inspiration, and resources.
- Exciting networking, education and training opportunities, as well as to share great stories and best practices.
- Scheduled activities include a meet-and-greet, leadership training, and breakout sessions in 4 tracks (Business Basics, Steady Growing, Expert Entrepreneur, and International).
WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. All of our websites are built in WordPress (as is about 25% of the internet), so chances are you are running or should be running a WordPress website. WordCamps are held all over the world, so you’re sure to find one near you, or really far away, depending on your preference.
- WordCamps are attended by people ranging from blogging newbies to professional WordPress developers and consultants. All skill levels are welcome.
- Sessions generally span a variety of formats, including lectures/presentations, live demos, Q&A, workshops, ignite-style lightning presentations, panels, interviews, and any other format you can imagine.
- WordCamps are meant to be low-key local gatherings that are affordable. Ticket prices are low, usually below $40 for a 2-day event, so you could concievably attend a WordCamp and another awesome conference on this list!
Digital Footprint (E-Commerce)
Held in the fall, Digital Footprint is a 3-day conference for entrepreneurs with e-commerce sites where you can learn strategies for building web traffic and business.
- High energy speakers will show you what your competitors are doing and how you can DO IT BETTER!
- Learn How to: Increase Revenue, Generate Leads, Diversify Revenue, Establish Authority, Raise Your Prices, Elevate Your Brand, Crush Your Competition.
- Leave the event with a personalized step-by-step guide on your own iPad Mini to grow your own sites in a similar way.
SMMW (Online Marketing & SEO)
Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) is help on the San Diego waterfront in mid April. With about 3,000 attendees, SMMW is the biggest social media marketing event in the world.
- Rub shoulders with the biggest names and brands in social media, soak up countless tips and new strategies and enjoy extensive networking opportunities.
- Why experiment with your social media marketing when you can fast-track your time to success? Reduce your trial and error time by learning from experts who will focus on what really works.
- Pick from 100+ expert-led sessions and workshops.
- SMMW brings together a greater mix of people – not just entrepreneurs or small business owners.Many attendees are employees (marketing managers, directors, and the like) attending on behalf of their organization.
- Employees from Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms attend.
BConnected Conference (Bloggers)
Held in April in Canada, BConnected Conference is for entrepreneurs looking to enhance their social media and blogging skills.
- Open to digital influencers, small business owners, charitable organizations, not for profit associations, and major brands,
BAM Conference (Women Bloggers)
The Bloggers at Midlife (BAM) conference, held in April, is the first event just for female content creators: writers, bloggers, and social media pros.
- The event brings together this special demographic to learn more about publishing, blogging, and social media.
- Have a unique opportunity to interact with very special brands.
This is definitely an investment, and it’s on my “dream conference” list. I’m sure you’ve all watched TEDTalks at some point. Well, the TED Conference is the heart of TED. Held annually on the West Coast, the TED Conference hosts more than 1000 attendees for five-days.
- Learn about Technology, Entertainment and Design — as well as science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world.
- Over 70 speakers appear on the main stage to give 18-minute “Ted” talks and shorter presentations, including music, performance and comedy.
Whether you choose one of the conferences I’ve mentioned for entrepreneurs, or pick a different one, I would encourage every single one of you to attend at least one conference a year. Why? Because you are worth it! Conferences will help you to grow your network, get out of your comfort zone, and help you to re-energize yourself and your business efforts. Not to mention you’ll learn a ton of new stuff, get some cool swag, and make friends that will last a lifetime!
What are your favorite conferences to attend? Have I missed any great ones?