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Some thoughts on good conferences to attend

I’m late to the party, but there’s been a bit of a buzz going around about what conference are worth attending in the industry calendar.

It all started with Alex Iskold’s post on Adaptive Blue’s blog, suggesting which conferences offer the best sponsorship opportunities for your fledgling startup (a good post, btw).

I can’t suggest which are the best conferences to go to market your product, but I’d like to make a stab at some of the best conferences to attend in you need to market yourself.

I’ve managed to establish a pretty good contact network over the past couple of years and I put a lot of this down to attending the right events (ok, and working for a high-profile company, but I can’t help you with that!)

ETech – San Diego, USA
ETech is where it started for me – 2005. It was my first industry conference.

I didn’t go this year because it clashed with the start of my work with Orange (delayed already because of the death of my Grandmother). And from what I heard, it was not as good as previous years. However, it’s still a conference I would attend simply because of the people who go – a good mix of devs and techs through to business people and CxO’s. I’ve rubbed shoulders and shared words with Jeff Bezos and Ray Ozzie whilst I’ve attended ETech, and made some good long-term relationships with many key individuals from ETech.

Future of Web Apps – London, UK (plus elsewhere)
If you are in London/UK, I think this has to be a ‘must-attend’ event – and the next one is in October. They also do them in the US and I think there are plans to hold them in other continents too. However the UK one is where it all started, and every year feels like a real coming together of the UK internet industry.

Ryan, Gill and Lisa of CarsonSystems put on a fine event that’s worth every penny and some. As one of the few events in the UK it attracts developers, business people, founders and VC’s – everyone basically.

Gnomedex – Seattle, USA
I love Gnomedex. I’ve only been once, but looking forward to going next week for the 2007 conference. The final tickets are still available if you want to go. The size of the event is small (200-300 people) but it attracts many key people – giving you a much better opportunity to network and get to know people.

Also, the conversational style of the event (the audience participates in the presentations) allows for some challenging debate and frankly an opportunity to demonstrate your areas of expertize. I find this a great ‘conference hack’ as it inevitably breaks the ice afterwards with people either agreeing or disagreeing with your question/point/speaker’s answer/etc.

Lift and Reboot – Europe
Now, I’ve never been to Lift or Reboot, and so I could be talking out of my arse here. However from observing the conference sites and speaking to people who have attended, these seem like two unique conferences that focus on the individual attendee and not the company they represent. In other words, you attend as yourself and not the company or establishment you are affiliated with.

I’d really like to attend one of these conferences, but sadly I think it’s unlikely until I move back to Europe. However…

Defrag – Denver, USA
Defrag Conference appeared on my radar a few weeks ago, and I booked up to go immediately. It looks like it’s in the spirit of Lift and Reboot and I particularly like that the organizers have chosen to locate the event outside of the Bay Area, despite that they espect many of the attendees to fly in from the Bay Area.

It looks like a great opportunity to literally ‘defrag’ away from the buzz and take stock of what’s really going on in social media right now. Like lift and reboot, I’m hoping people will attend ‘as themselves’ and not the company they are affiliated with – to get some really interesting and impartial debate going. We’ll see!

Community events – EVERYWHERE!
Perhaps the most important events to go to, however, are the community and grassroots events that are being held in your area. And if there aren’t any, well start some!

Jeremiah is spot on with his observations about this, so rather than repeat it all here – go check out his post.

(Due to time constraints, I’ve not hyper-linked this post up to the respective conference sites – will try to do this soon. I’m experimenting with various time slots in my day schedule when I can spend blogging – sadly these are finite gaps and as such the blogging has to fit the time and not the other way around 🙁 )

Published in Thoughts and Rants


  1. heh! not LesBlogs then? 😛

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