By Thomas Smale
If run an online business, chances are you’re aware of the many industry-related conferences taking place worldwide each year. This year my team will attend 40 conferences around the world. Why do we invest time and money in attending these conferences? Because we have found that participating in conferences is one of the best ways to maintain business connections and to forge new ones. We’re also exposed to new people and new ideas that can inspire us to take our business to new heights.
With over 100 conferences to choose from annually, it can be difficult to know which ones are the best to attend. Having attended dozens of conferences in recent years, these are my recommendations of the most worthwhile conferences for digital professionals in 2018:
Darmstadt, Germany—March 2-4, 2018
FemtoConf is an intimate gathering where the focus is networking rather than listening to speakers. Despite the emphasis on meeting like-minded founders, there are also talks and workshops from the likes of Mike Taber of Bluetick and Alex Yushamev of Jitbit. Attendance is limited to 30 people, fostering an intimate networking environment. This conference is perfect for “small, self-funded, software companies,” so come to learn about what influencers in the industry are focused on and learn directly from peers in the software industry.
Growth Edition: Las Vegas—April 29-May 1, 2018
Starter Edition: Las Vegas—May 1-3, 2018
MicroConf is the “world’s biggest conference for the world’s smallest self-funded software companies.” This year the event will be split into two separate summits: Starter Edition is geared for attendees in the early stages of development who are not yet making a living from their business; Growth Edition is aimed at those making more than $5,000 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Note: Even if your $5,000 MRR isn’t supporting you full time, it is an indicator of significant traction for your business and you would most likely benefit more from the Growth Edition.
3. Life. Time. Value. Conference
London, England—May 10-11, 2018
This event offers a unique opportunity for attendees with no sales pitches, no suits or ties, and an intimate group to share ideas and practices, and to learn from industry experts. There will be sessions covering many different areas of SaaS as well as networking events.
4. Sellers Summit
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida—May 3-5, 2018
Billed as “the ultimate e-commerce learning conference,” Sellers Summit focuses on the nuts and bolts of building a successful e-commerce business. Sellers Summit is an intense two-day workshop where during the conference you can test strategies that you learn and get feedback from experts. Many years of e-commerce wisdom and experience gets imparted over the course of the two-day conference.
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5. Affiliate Summit East
New York City—July 29-31, 2018
Thousands of digital marketers, online publishers, advertisers, and media owners from over 70 countries will converge in Manhattan this July for Affiliate Summit East. The biggest names in the industry will be here seeking bloggers, digital publishers, retailers, technology firms, digital agencies, influencers, and more. If you’re operating in the world of affiliate marketing then Affiliate Summit East is a can’t miss event. Affiliate Summit also hosts events on the West Coast and in Europe.
6. Business of Software USA
Boston—October 1-3, 2018
Dubbed as “a friendly conference for independent thinking software people,” the Business of Software USA conference is now in its twelfth year of operation. BoS promises that you will leave with at least one idea or connection that will deliver a 10x return. As one might guess from the name, Business of Software takes a business-like approach to conference planning. The emphasis is on interactions between attendees and speakers, and finding solutions to real-world business problems.
Dublin, Ireland—October 15-17, 2018
With over 100 speakers, SaaStock is Europe’s premiere SaaS conference. Join 1,500+ founders, investors, and executives from over 40 countries for three days of workshops, panels, and networking. Special attention is devoted to scalability and growth. This year’s speakers will come from all corners of the SaaS field and include Dan Martell, David Cancel of Drift, and David Skok of VC firm Matrix Partners.
Bangkok, Thailand—October 18-22, 2018
DCBKK is put together by the hosts of the popular podcast The Tropical MBA. As befits organizers who preach the joys of remote work, their DCBKK conference takes place every year in Bangkok, Thailand. Over the course of five days, 250+ business owners participate in workshops, panels, and meetups geared towards their particular business interests.
9. The Capitalism Conference
Austin, Texas—Dates: TBA
The Capitalism Conference sets its sights high, aiming to show you how to go from “just an idea” to building a “massive empire.” Hyperbole aside, The Capitalism Conference provides actionable keynotes from elite entrepreneurs and marketers, breakout sessions focused on building your business, and networking opportunities with both founders and investors. For “visionaries only,” The Capitalism Conference is for those seeking to grow their business into an eight or nine figure “empire.”
Before you hit the road…
So there you have it—our choices of the top nine conferences for digital professionals to attend in 2018, handpicked for entrepreneurs and professionals from a variety of business models: SaaS, e-commerce, and content/affiliate marketing. You will want to select conferences most pertinent to your line of business.
What’s important to keep in mind is that you will get out of conferences what you put in. The attendee who is going to get the most out of the experience is the one who does their research beforehand, decides which keynotes to attend, and compiles a list of target people to meet.
Conferences can be overwhelming, so having concrete goals beforehand is the best way to ensure you won’t leave disappointed. That said, it’s important to remain flexible in case something better pops up than what you had initially scheduled. Remember the relationships you build and the friendships you initiate can be the most valuable part of attending any conference.
About the Author
Post by: Thomas Smale
Thomas Smale is a serial online business entrepreneur and expert. Early in his career, he began building and selling small online companies. This turned into one of his ventures when he founded FE International (FE) in 2010, growing the business with zero funds from the ground up and consistently doubling annual revenue, as well as the average deal size. FE has several subsidiaries, including MageMail, MRR Media, and GrooveJar. Thomas specializes in advising in the M&A of SaaS, e-commerce, affiliate, and content businesses. He has consulted thousands of internet entrepreneurs on exit strategy, growth, and business development.
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