I am a big fan of conferences. While they can be expensive in regards to time and money, I have always found them to provide far more value than the time or money it cost to attend. That is, if the conferences are the right ones to attend.
(See post on Getting the Most Out of Conferences)
Before choosing a conference to attend, you have to have a reason for attending:
- Are you looking to grow your network of peers?
- Are you looking to grow your customer base?
- Are you looking to learn more about your trade?
- Are you looking to expand your skill-set into new areas?
- Are you looking for motivation to take your business to the next level?
- Do you need an excuse to leave your home office, spend a few days in a hotel, and regain some clarity?
Knowing where your greatest needs are can determine which conferences to attend. Sometimes you need to attend conferences related to your target audience, but other times you can gain a healthy dose of inspiration, knowledge, clarity, and network growth if you attend a conference geared towards other bootstrappers.
What follows is a list of a few conferences that I have either attended, am planning on attending, or have come highly recommended.
April 13-14 2015, Las Vegas - http://microconf.com
Run by the duo behind Startups for the Rest of Us (Podcast), MicroConf is geared towards entrepreneurs bootstrapping their own products. The speakers for this year include Jason Cohen, Rob Walling, Jesse Mecham, Joanna Wiebe, Hiten Shah, and Patrick McKenzie. MicroConf is currently limited to roughly 230 attendees, so there is a high speaker-to-attendee ratio, allowing for more personal interaction and closer connections.
While MicroConf is currently sold out for this year, there is the chance that a few tickets will be refunded and made available (follow @robwalling, @SingleFounder, or sign up for their email list on the MicroConf Website).
May 28-29 2015, Philadelphia - http://baconbiz.com/
BaconBiz is another conference for bootstrappers that intentionally limits the number of attendees in order to maximize interaction and engagement. I had the pleasure of attending in 2014, and I still refer to my notes from the various talks because of all of the knowledge bombs that were dropped in those two days. Speakers from last year included Nathan Barry, Brennan Dunn, Patrick McKenzie and many others. The talks were limited to under 30 minutes with frequent breaks, so my attention was kept the entire time. It was the right mix of “sit and listen” and “go say ‘hi’ to this person”.
BaconBiz tickets are only available to people on their mailing list, and you can do so on the BaconBiz Website.
Social Media Marketing World
March 25-27 2015, San Diego http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/smmworld/
Unlike the two above conferences, Social Media Marketing World is not limited to 50 people (in fact, it is quite a large conference), and is about twice as expensive. However, the speaker lineup is a little different as well, with folks like Guy Kawasaki, Pat Flynn, Chris Brogan, Michael Hyatt, Darren Rowse, and Mari Smith on the lineup. If your focus in 2015 is stepping up your social media game, then this might be the conference for you.
July 13-15 2015, Seattle
MozCon is also a larger conference like Social Media Marketing World, but has a broader scope of topics. For example, you can expect to learn more about SEO, community building, content marketing, brand development, the mobile landscape and analytics. Speakers include Joanna Wiebe, Rand Fishkin, Mig Reyes, and Lexi Mills.
March 31-April 2 2015, Phoenix
ICON is actually the cheapest conference on this list at $599 a ticket. That doesn’t mean it skimps on speakers either, with the lineup including Noah Kagan, Clay Collins, John Lee Dumas, Sally Hogshead, and Greg McKeown. The focus of this conference is to help small businesses succeed and grow.
Because I am such a fan of personal networking, I tend to lean towards conferences like BaconBiz and MicroConf due to their smaller sizes. When you keep bumping into the same people all day for two days, you usually make stronger connections and have deeper conversations. However, the larger conferences have their advantages too. The latter three on this list provide a larger pool of attendees with which to network, and typically a multi-track schedule so you can pick and choose the most relevant topics.
Did I miss a great conference for bootstrappers in 2015? Let us know about it in the comments.