I remember the first conference I ever attended as an entrepreneur: it was New Media Expo in January 2014.
I had ‘un-conferenced’ before (actually traveled to the location of a conference for the networking opportunities and meet ups, but didn’t buy a conference pass), and that worked out really well, too. I even recommend it, depending on your goals.
But this post isn’t about what conferences I have or have not attended… Well, not necessarily.
John and I put our heads together and came up with this list of the Top 7 Conferences for Entrepreneurs in 2016 based on our knowledge and experience having attended well over 20 events and conferences ourselves in the past 3+ years.
Every conference on this list is one we’ve attended, or plan to attend in 2016 ourselves.
Using S.M.A.R.T. goals to make smart decisions
But before we dive in to the list, it’s integral that you have at least one of your big, S.M.A.R.T. goals set for the year ahead. Without a goal to help guide your decision, it will be difficult to know whether or not one of the conferences on this list is actually right for YOU.
A S.M.A.R.T. goal is one that is:
So how do you use your S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you make smart decisions around what conferences YOU should attend in 2016?
It’s simple, really; ask yourself:
Will attending this conference help me get one step closer to accomplishing one of my S.M.A.R.T. goals?
There are of course other considerations when choosing conferences to attend, like:
- The actual cost to attend;
- Time spent traveling to/from;
- Time away from your business;
- The people who will be involved.
Given your S.M.A.R.T. goal, along with the considerations above, deciding to attend a conference or event should be a HECK YEAH! for you.
If it’s not, then move on to the next!
Top 7 Conferences for Entrepreneurs
The following are all conferences and events we’ve attended in the past, so we speak from personal experience when we say these are all incredible events!
But remember, deciding to attend a conference or event should be a HECK YEAH! for YOU based on your S.M.A.R.T. goals and the other considerations listed above.
(listed in date order)
Phoenix, AZ March 2 – 4
ICON by Infusionsoft is a commingling of some of the smartest minds in marketing alongside some of the best marketing software solutions that exists today.
If you use Infusionsoft, then attending ICON is a no-brainer; but even if you don’t use Infusionsoft, I wouldn’t rule this conference out. There are a lot of email marketing and list-building tactics that are discussed throughout the event that are incredibly valuable no matter what CRM software you use.
In addition, they set up an impressive expo area where you can learn about different marketing and customer service solutions that integrate with almost all of the bigger email marketing tools.
Philippines, March 12 – 17
Investment: $4,200 (event is all-inclusive)
Tropical Think Tank is a special event for several reasons. For starters, the intimate nature of this 50-person event is unlike anything you’d experience at a mega-conference. Second, the opportunity to learn from some of best minds in entrepreneurship while staying on the beach at a resort isn’t something that comes along very often.
The travel, the time and the cost is a huge investment, but if you asked any previous attendee, I’m confident every single one would tell you that TTT either changed their life, or their business, or both for the better, and that it was well worth it!
San Diego, CA April 17-19
Social Media Marketing World is the biggest social media marketing event in the world, where hundreds of online experts with knowledge on any and every platform you can imagine take the stage to share the latest and greatest.
This event will give you the opportunity to meet TONS of people, and if you’re looking to connect with a specific influencer, chances are they’ll be at this event.
SMMW does tend to bring together a greater mix of people – not just entrepreneurs or small business owners. If you decide to attend, you’ll find that maybe even a majority of the attendees are employees (marketing managers, directors, and the like) attending on behalf of their organization.
Chicago, IL July 6 – 8
Investment: $409 (use promo code: FIRE for a special discount!)
If you’re a podcaster, or thinking that podcasting might be for you, then Podcast Movement is a MUST-ATTEND event.
With multiple tracks to follow based on your podcasting focus, you’re guaranteed to get great content and make even greater connections.
The event is well-organized and offers a fun and energized group of people a platform to connect and “geek out” on the amazing medium of podcasting!
Portland, OR August 11 – 15
Investment: $147 for “WDS Connect”, main stage conference sold out
For the entrepreneur who is looking for content focused on mindset and inspiration versus tactics and implementation, World Domination Summit is for you!
From start to finish, this event puts speakers on stage who have gone to great heights, and overcome even greater roadblocks, to accomplish their biggest goals.
Cleveland, OH September 6 – 9
Investment: $1,095 early bird ticket (ends May 31, 2016)
It’s only the largest content marketing event in the world!
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy laid out for your business yet, or you’re just not really sure how to take your current strategy to the next level, then Content Marketing World will help you do just that.
This is your chance to network with some of the brightest content creators in the industry, all while learning directly from them what’s working right now – and that’s a pretty sweet opportunity.
Where you’re a blogger, podcaster, vlogger or other, content marketing is an integral part of growing a strong business.
Portland, ME September 23
Investment: $149 early bird ticket (ends June 30th) Use promo code: FIRE for a special discount!
Agents of Change holds a special place in our hearts: Rich Brooks, the founder and organizer is a dear friend, and the location is in John’s home state of Maine.
But that’s not why we recommend it. We recommend it as one of the top conferences to attend because unlike most events that span a weekend, or even 5-6 days, AOC takes place on a single day. This makes your time spent, and the learning that takes place, super efficient and to the point.
And with one of the best after parties we’ve ever been to, there’s plenty of time to connect and build relationships, too!
More great events
There are a few conferences we haven’t been able to attend, but that we know are incredible events because we’ve heard amazing things about them from people we know, like and trust (and who have attended them), AND we know the conference organizers – and we know they throw one heck of a conference!
San Diego, CA – Feb 9 – 11
San Diego, CA – March 31 – April 2
Manchester, UK – June 18 – 19
Gold Coast, AUS – September 9 – 10
San Diego, CA – September 21 – 24
Santa Barbara, CA – October 13 – 14
* Events that either myself, John, or both of us will be attending in 2016