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Marisa Sanfilippo

Big or Small? The Power of Networking and Business Conferences

Marisa Sanfilippo
Big or Small? The Power of Networking and Business Conferences

Business conferences present an amazing opportunity. You get to meet top-level industry influencers, people who have become famous for their knowledge, movers and shakers. But unless you’re one of them, or you can afford the VIP package, you might find yourself on the wrong side of the velvet rope at some conferences.

Does Size Matter?

One of the common complaints after big-ticket conferences is the lack of access to all but big spenders. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd of thousands of attendees who pay thousands of dollars each.

Speakers and social media stars have so many people clamoring for their time they have to prioritize, and relative unknowns on a budget are assigned to a lower priority.

And the reality is that with all those people, and several presentations running concurrently each day to accommodate them, you may not get to attend every session you want to, and as a result not get the value you signed up for.

Small conferences are valuable opportunities!

If you're getting ready to attend a conference for the first time, a smaller conference might be less intimidating and more valuable.

Small Cons vs. Large Cons

Nextcon16 is a great example of a smaller conference.

The lineup includes presentations by some real superstars in business, tech, and marketing, and presentations are scheduled one at a time over three days, so you don't have to rush or miss anything. Smaller numbers mean more personal access to some amazing people.

Imagine being able to rub elbows with Nextiva CEO Tomas Gorny, Apple tech genius Guy Kawasaki, Linkedin's chief HR officer Pat Wadors, Google Chief Evangelist of brand marketing Gopi Kallayil... a total of 50 speakers from all areas of business. Branding, HR, marketing, startups, tech, content, communications, and more. And then to close the show, you'll get to meet Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. After his presentation, he’ll be sticking around to meet and greet.

Attending a small conference means you'll get the chance to see everything and meet everyone. The takeaways are priceless, and the price tag is comparatively small, just $499 per person, with no tiers system to exclude attendees on a budget.

NextCon16 will convene Nov. 14-16, 2016 at the magnificent Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Contrast a small conference with a large one: The Next Web Conference in May 2017 will welcome 15,000 attendees in Amsterdam.

The 2-day conference features 7 stages for concurrent presentations, and huge rooms crowded with hundreds of people. It looks both amazing and intimidating.

The Next Web Conference touts entrepreneurs, developers, marketing managers, CEOs and policymakers visiting Europe's leading tech festival. They’re all looking to stay on top of the latest trends, meet their next client or partner, and connect with other people interested in the future of technology, innovation, marketing and imagination. If you're looking for the big conference experience, you should mark the dates: May 18 & 19 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

Networking and Aligning with Business Goals

Attending a conference is invaluable for any business person interested in networking and ongoing learning. In the digital world, there is always something new to learn and a new connection to be made.

Choose your conference carefully to align with your business goals; one that features the information you most need to learn.

Be mindful of how you will fit on the attendee roster. Will you be an honored guest or just a face in the crowd? Will you be invited, or even allowed, to the most intimate events? And will you be able, given the time frame, to get maximum value for your fee? Or will you be forced to choose between many presentations running at the same time?

Final Thoughts

Big conferences can be an incredible experience. To get the most out of whatever conference you decide to attend, make connections in advance. Grease the social wheels by getting to know other attendees online before you meet them in person. Networking is exponential. The people you connect with will connect you with more people... and so on. It’s a great way to establish authority and grow your own influence.

As Content and Social Media Marketing Director of Fortune Web Marketing (an Internet marketing agency based out of New Jersey) Marisa helps businesses large and small in a variety of industries get found and look and sound good online. When she’s not glued to her computer screen, she dabbles in photography and painting.

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