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Going to the Web Summit 2016?by@daanassen
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Going to the Web Summit 2016?

by Daan AssenOctober 31st, 2016
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50,000 <a href="https://hackernoon.com/tagged/individual" target="_blank">individual</a> people, 15,000 companies, a fair share of celebrities and a lot of glitter and glitz. Sounds pretty overwhelming. That’s what we’ve been told to expect from the <a href="https://websummit.net" target="_blank">Web Summit</a> this year. I’ve been to the event 3 times before and have found it pretty rewarding, despite some obvious issues that come with a conference this size. The Web Summit has received a bit of a <a href="http://tech.eu/features/6244/web-summit-scam-well-ask/" target="_blank">bashing in the media</a> and some of that criticism did resonate with me. Mainly because I feel like it’s easy for the whole <a href="https://hackernoon.com/tagged/startup" target="_blank">startup</a> scene to turn into a circus with a continuous flow of events. It’s not unusual for people to lose focus on their product when they’re busy pitching for investors and attending massive (not to mention expensive) conferences. At the same time, big events like the Web Summit and The Next Web are a great place to meet a lot of relevant people. In the end, it’s up to you to make the visit effective. I’ll be at this year’s summit with part of the <a href="https://squads.com/" target="_blank">Squads</a> team and I’d love to meet. If you’re a startup founder looking to build or grow your product, you can schedule a meeting with us by <a href="mailto:[email protected]" target="_blank">contacting me</a>. In this post, I’ll share some recommendations for first-time attendees based on my previous summit experiences.
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Here’s how you can get the most out of it

50,000 individual people, 15,000 companies, a fair share of celebrities and a lot of glitter and glitz. Sounds pretty overwhelming. That’s what we’ve been told to expect from the Web Summit this year. I’ve been to the event 3 times before and have found it pretty rewarding, despite some obvious issues that come with a conference this size. The Web Summit has received a bit of a bashing in the media and some of that criticism did resonate with me. Mainly because I feel like it’s easy for the whole startup scene to turn into a circus with a continuous flow of events. It’s not unusual for people to lose focus on their product when they’re busy pitching for investors and attending massive (not to mention expensive) conferences. At the same time, big events like the Web Summit and The Next Web are a great place to meet a lot of relevant people. In the end, it’s up to you to make the visit effective. I’ll be at this year’s summit with part of the Squads team and I’d love to meet. If you’re a startup founder looking to build or grow your product, you can schedule a meeting with us by contacting me. In this post, I’ll share some recommendations for first-time attendees based on my previous summit experiences.

Journey to the Web Summit: Preparations

This year, Squads will be part of the Alpha Program. We’ll be at stand number A211 in the Software Development Exhibition Area of Pavilion 3 on Day 1 (Tuesday, November 8).

We had a booth at the Web Summit before and we learned a few things along the way. One thing we learned is that catching the attention of potential customers, investors and press was really hard work and requires preparation. Our advice would be:

  1. Do your research to identify key people and schedule as many meetings in advance as possible. You can use the event app to connect with other visitors.
  2. Think of other ways you can promote your product or company prior-to and during the event. Having a booth with thousands of other startups is not enough. Some non-conventional tactics, like biking all the way from Italy like the guys at Fred did in 2014, might definitely be useful. If you don’t have the time for that, you can always stand out by:
  • Offering cool merchandise
  • Investing in Twitter ads with the event hashtag
  • Offering an experience at your booth and not just a simple demo. Be careful with gimmicks though, those can sometimes backfire.
  • Live-tweeting as much as possible
  • Finding and attending “outside” networking events that are organized around the conference
  • Organizing your own networking event (be prepared to compete with many others though)

3. Don’t focus too much on the speeches, they will be available online anyway. If you must, pick a few speakers that will present about topics or challenges you’re really interested in hearing about. Focus on the networking instead.

Aside from catching people’s attention in a crowded space, there are other practical challenges to consider. For one, finding a reliable internet connection will be nearly impossible, so make sure you’re prepared to show off your product offline with a simple deck too.

Another piece of advice would be to take at least one additional person (or even better 2 or 3) with you. That way, you can divide your attention between different people and still make time to share your experiences on social media during the event.

Most importantly, manage your expectations. This is a huge event, so don’t be surprised if you don’t get to meet everyone you wanted. Just make sure you make the best of it by preparing in advance!

Got other tips or comments about the Web Summit? What has your experience been like in previous years? Tell me about it below.