Why Entrepreneurs Should Attend Tech Conferences Like WebSummit 2017

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Attending a tech conference is a serious commitment; it requires a significant amount of planning, time, and money. It's also one of the fastest ways to boost your career, and one of the best ways to stay up to date in the tech world. A good conference can change your entire life.

Still not sure you want to invest in a tech conference this year? Here are some reasons why you should:

Be the first to know about coming trends

If you want to innovate, you need to be aware of coming trends. Tech conferences are the best way to discover new trends before the rest of the world. You'll see exhibits from key startups and talks from top tech entrepreneurs, all designed to give you an inside track on global innovation.

Web Summit is the world's premier tech conference, attracting many of the world's top tech experts. Speakers at previous conferences include Elon Musk of SpaceX, Linda Boff of General Electric, and Reed Hastings of Netflix. These speakers give you the inside track on coming changes in tech.

Many companies also announce their biggest new projects at conferences, such as digital giving service Sberbank Together, which launched at Web Summit 2016. These exclusive opportunities to see the future of tech are invaluable.

Deepen your understanding of current trends

A good tech conference has a strong focus on the future, but it also provides you with a deeper understanding of tech in the current moment. Most trends come and go quickly, but some are here to stay—and your success depends on understanding them.

Web Summit features over 650 speakers every year, and many of the talks are about taking advantage of current trends. Some of the best examples include the group panel More than Mobile from 2016 and Instragram in Focus from Mike Krieger in 2015.

Connect on a global scale

Sure, you can connect with people from around the world online, but there's no substitute for meeting face to face. Networking events in your area are a great start, but you'll never make global connections that way. Depending on where you live, it might be difficult to even make national connections.

Global connections allow you to reach a much bigger group of people. People steeped in other cultures know how to make your business appealing to people in their cultures. They can also bring entirely new ideas to the table. Global collaboration gives you a massive edge when it comes to innovation.

The best tech conferences actively focus on making their events global. They invite speakers and startups from around the world. They are ambassadors for diversity, because they understand how diversity can improve the future of tech.

As the largest tech conference in the world, Web Summit is a truly global event. They're also committed to improving inclusivity every year. This year they've made some big changes to their startup exhibition program, ALPHA.

Meet investors

Most tech conferences also invite investors and hold scheduled pitch sessions for entrepreneurs. This is one of the best ways to get funding to expand your business—or start a new one. Even if you don't get funding, this is a golden opportunity to practice your pitch. If you're memorable enough, you might even walk away with a potential investor for future projects.

The best tech conferences also give you an opportunity to mingle with some of these investors informally. You shouldn't pitch your ideas during these events, but you can get a feel for what investors want. You'll also have a better chance of getting the investment at the right time if they already know who you are.

Web Summit has an investor track and extensive programming to connect investors with entrepreneurs. Founding members of leading firms, such as Steve Anderson from Baseline Ventures and Theresia Gouw from Aspect Ventures, attend Web Summit every year.

Special investment programs for startups

Many tech conferences offer generalized investor appointments for both startups and businesses that wish to expand. The best conferences also feature a special startup track for investors.

At Web Summit this program is called Office Hours, and it connects the most promising startups directly to investors. The pitch meetings are 15 minutes long, and startups have closed deals for seed money in as little as a week.

Become a known expert

If you have unique ideas about tech or business, or you've created a truly innovative product, speaking at a tech conference can give you an authoritative position in your industry. You'll be considered an expert. Entrepreneurs—and investors—will know who you are.
Speaking at any conference can help position you as an expert, but it's always better to aim for the biggest conferences. Speaking at an event as large and well respected as Web Summit is the ultimate opportunity. You'll be able to share a stage—and space in people's minds—with the world's top tech entrepreneurs.

Of course, speaking at a conference is also terrifying. You should always try to attend an event at least once before you apply to speak there. This gives you a chance to connect to the community, so you can feel more confident on stage. It also shows the people judging your application that you know what the event is about and what the expectations are.

It's also a good idea to develop your speaking chops at smaller conferences first, such as your local TEDx or tech-specific conference.

Change your perspective

The biggest thing you can get out of any conference is a new perspective—on the world, your life, and your business. You'll leave buzzing with new ideas. You'll have the new connections to make them happen. Even if business has felt stale for months or years, you'll have new energy and passion for your work.

Even a small conference can completely change your perspective, but this is another case where bigger is usually better. A wider range of programming gives you more opportunities to find the specific talks that will change your life.

Web Summit is actually a collection of 21 different conferences, making it easy for you to find content tailored to your needs. Some of the most popular conferences include Startup University and Planet:Tech.

If you're looking for a life changing experience that will revitalize your relationship with your business, there's no better place to go than Web Summit.

Dianna Gunn

Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, social media, and business. She blogs about creativity, books, and life at http://www.thedabbler.ca.

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