It’s a pretty common question we get asked here at EntrepreneurOnFire, and for good reason: John got his start by attending a conference.
Not to mention the relationship building and networking that goes on at conferences.
I dipped my toes into the entrepreneurial waters by introducing myself to some really, really big names at my first ever conference, World Domination Summit in 2013.
And I’d be remiss if I left out the pure experience of being a part of a movement that comes with each and every conference that is put on (well, at least at the good ones).
But how do you know whether or not a conference is going to be “good”? And furthermore, how do you know it’ll be worth the investment – that it will actually pay you back business-wise?
There are a few things you should check off your list before investing in a conference, so let’s start there just in case you’re not really sure how to tell whether or not you should attend a particular conference. Then we’ll dive into the top 7 conferences we put together for 2015.
5 Steps to knowing whether or not you should attend a conference
1. Write out your business SMART goals
Warning: Do not skip this step. Actually write them down and be specific. You should be creating big goals in your business that are measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
Is “growing my business in 2015” a good goal? NO.
Is “growing my email list by 10,000 subscribers before July 2015” a good goal? YES.
In having your business goals written out and in front of you, it’ll be easy for you to decide whether or not the content and/or the people attending any given conference can help you achieve your goals. If the answer is no, then perhaps it’s not the conference for you.
If you need help with your goal-setting for 2015, Michael Hyatt just released a free video series revealing the biggest secrets to actually getting what you really want in 2015.
2. Research the conference in question
When deciding whether or not a conference is right for you, you should always look for some type of explanation from the creators on “who this conference is for”. If the conference is for small business owners who have a brick and mortar business, and you’re an online entrepreneur, then you can go right ahead and check that off the list!
You can also dive a lot deeper than that. For example, if you’re questioning whether or not you should attend a conference that is all about social media, but you’ve already hired a professional social media manager or company to handle that aspect of your business, then your investment might be better going towards a conference that covers material you are in charge of.
3. Do a “connect check”
Who else will be at this conference? You can start with the list of speakers, and then dive into your online communities to see if others you’re already connected with online will be attending.
A huge part of attending conferences is the opportunity to build relationships and network with the speakers and other attendees. If you can’t seem to find many common connections with speakers and other attendees, then you might look to other events where people who you want to connect with will be hanging out.
4. Weigh the investment
There are a lot of great conferences out there, and it would be nearly impossible to attend them all. There are several factors that go into weighing your investment, like travel expenses, the time you’ll invest from start to finish (along with the time lost focusing on your business), and then of course the actual investment for the ticket.
Weigh your options and make sure that if you can only attend 1 conference per year that it’s the absolute best fit for your own personal and business goals.
5. Schedule it to make it real
Once you’ve sifted through your list of conferences, schedule it!
We’ve learned from experience that not much gets done unless you actually schedule it. So, whether that means blocking off your calendar, actually locking down your ticket, or booking your travel arrangements, get something in the books to actually make your presence at this conference a reality.
Top 7 conferences to attend in 2015
If you’re an online entrepreneur or are striving to become one, then there are a number of conferences that I’m very confident will be a huge hit for you in 2015. I’ve included the Top 7 below, arranged by the date they’ll be going down, along with a blurb about “who it’s for”.
Just so you know, some of the links below might be affiliate links, and we may earn a commission if you decide to attend through our link.
Social Media Marketing World (San Diego, CA)
$1,497 (early bird discounts available)
Social Media Marketing World is not only held in an amazing location, it’s also one of the biggest conferences of its kind. With over 100 social media marketing experts and 2,500 marketers in attendance, you’ll walk away with some incredible new relationships and the latest and greatest trends in social media.
Oh yeah, did I mention it’s put on by the largest social media blog and website in the world, Social Media Examiner? Having Michael Stelzner behind the event only adds to its awesomeness.
Who it’s for
If you’re a marketer looking to make new connections with like-minded people, discover both practical and advanced social media techniques and tactics straight from the experts, and have some fun while you’re at it, then Social Media Marketing World is for you.
Tropical Think Tank (Philippines) – SOLD OUT!
$3,800 (early bird rate only available via email – $400 savings)
The intimate nature of this 6-day, all-inclusive event is what sets this event apart from all the rest. The relationship building is unlike anything you’ll find at a typical conference, and with only 50 spots open (2 left), you WILL walk away with powerful connections.
Proof: After meeting at TTT last year, one of the speakers teamed up with one of the attendees, and this year they started a business together!
This isn’t your typical “sit and learn” type set up. Every day there will be mastermind breakout sessions, where you get to talk to the speakers and the other attendees about YOUR business. Plus, host Chris Ducker has an incredible 6 days set up that include lots of play time, too: all included in the investment.
Who it’s for
If you’re looking for a catalyst that will take your business to the next level, and you’re serious about opening the doors and making yourself available to an amazing opportunity, then Tropical Think Tank is for you.
World Domination Summit (Portland, OR)
$497 (tickets are sold out)
Join incredibly inspiring entrepreneurs and world changers for the 5th annual World Domination Summit, where like-minded people come together in support of community, adventure and service.
Who it’s for
World Domination Summit is for those in it to change the world, so if you’re looking for just the right amount of inspiration mixed with motivation to get your business rolling, then this is the conference for you.
I’ve attended WDS two years in a row – both in 2013 and 2014 – without a ticket; don’t be discouraged by the fact that they’re sold out if you really want to be a part of this event. Some people refer to this as “un-conferencing”.
Why do it? Because you can still go and be present at mixers and meet ups and have all the benefits of the relationship building and networking part of the equation, which is huge.
July / August 2015
Podcast Movement (Fort Worth, TX)
$297 *Early Bird tickets on sale now!* (Regular $497)
July 31 – Aug 2
Podcast Movement 2014 was one of the funnest conferences I’ve been to, and I have no doubt 2015 will be even better. These guys truly have helped create a movement. With niche breakout sessions and dedicated tracks, your podcasting journey just got even better.
Who it’s for
If you’re currently a podcaster, or you’re thinking about becoming one, then this is a must-attend conference.
Content Marketing World (Cleveland, OH)
$1,730 (all access – available until Dec 31st, then $1,830 until Feb 28th)
It’s only the largest content marketing event in the world! But seriously, 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.
Who it’s for
If you have any part in creating valuable, relevant content through one or more channels in order to help attract and retain audience members and potential customers (and therefore grow your business), then CMW is your kinda gig.
*Use promo code FIRE for $100 off your online registration!* (Sorry! This link was active when this episode was first published in 2014 but is no longer an active offer.)
New Media Europe (Manchester, UK)
$385 (early bird – available until Jan 1st, then $540)
Ready to increase your knowledge in the new media space, along with up your game in one or more of the following categories: podcasting, blogging, social media, content marketing, and/or new media in general? New Media Europe has it all.
Education, networking and inspiration are the cornerstones to this 2-day event, which boasts speakers like Chris Ducker and Cliff Ravenscraft. This is your opportunity to get in touch with some of the brightest minds in new media!
Who it’s for
If you’re looking to explore new media further, learn more about the latest and greatest in the new media space, and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs in the new media space, then this is going to be a great event for you.
*Use promo code FIRE for a special discount!*
Agents of Change (Portland, ME)
$149 (early bird – available until July 31st)
Sept 25, 2015
Agents of Change is all about helping you learn how to leverage the top three digital marketing channels available today: search, social, and mobile. Understanding how these channels can help you grow your business is integral to staying ahead of the curve, and the top-notch speakers that host Rich Brooks brings together each year can help.
Who it’s for
If you’re ready to take your digital marketing via search, social and mobile to the next level to help grow your business, then AOC is your kind of gig.
*Use promo code firenation for a special discount!*
Bonus: Podcast Cruise (Ft Lauderdale)
Nov 1 – 7th
The Podcast Cruise is a one-of-a-kind event held for those looking to leverage podcasting as a way to take their business to the next level. With speakers like Andrew Warner, Chase Reeves, Chris Brogan, and Chris Ducker (among many more), this event is sure to “rock the boat”!
The Podcast Cruise sets sail Nov 1, 2015 and will make stops in Jamaica, Haiti and Grand Cayman. Get ready for fun in the sun, the opportunity to bring the whole family along, PLUS get to experience stage talks and intimate mastermind sessions throughout the 7 days.
Who it’s for
The Podcast Cruise is for anyone looking to leverage podcasting as a way to take their business to the next level. You do not have to have a podcast right now to attend this event.
There are far too many great conferences that happen in any given year for us to able to include them all here. Our goal with this post is to help you narrow down the dozens upon dozens of options that are out there.
One conference we haven’t listed here that has played a big part in our growth as entrepreneurs, and that you’ll hear others talk about if you listen to this episode, is New Media Expo. This conference not being in our Top 7 list doesn’t mean that we don’t think it’s a great conference – in fact, we KNOW it’s a great conference because we’ve both attended it – John numerous times – in the past.
This year, New Media Expo is teaming up with NAB – the National Association of Broadcasters – which means their partnership will bring more than 98,000 people together in one place: the Las Vegas Convention Center. That’s a lot of people :)
So if your business goals include learning about new media from some of the brightest minds in the industry, as well as hanging out with literally thousands of people, then New Media Expo is definitely worth checking out.
Where we’ll be this year
After reading this post, you might be thinking to yourself, “man, deciding which conferences to attend in 2015 is a lot of work!”
My hope is that this post has helped you at least understand the best ways to know whether or not a conference is a good investment for you and your business, and therefore, whether or not you should attend.
This is of course not an all-inclusive list of all the great conferences that will be going down in 2015 that may help you and your business grow; however, these are the Top 7 we wanted to share with you in order to make sifting through the potentials a little easier.
What John and I love most about attending conferences are the relationships we’re able to build and grow. Meeting people for the first time in person and deepening relationships with those we’ve known for years is priceless – you simply can’t put a price tag on that.
We’d love to meet you if you’ll be attending any of the same conferences as us next year! Here’s where we’ll be in 2015:
Social Media Marketing World (John is speaking, I’ll be attending)
Podcast San Diego (I’ll be speaking, John will be attending)
ICON2015 (John is speaking, I’ll be attending) *Use promo code fire for $50 off!*
Tropical Think Tank (both John and I will be speaking / attending)
Podcast Movement (both John and I will be speaking / attending)
Content Marketing World (John is speaking)
Podcast Cruise (both John and I will be speaking / attending – it’s actually our event!)
This line up makes 2015 an exciting year for travel, education and meeting new people!