Web Summit is the largest tech conf in the World. With more than 60k participants it’s more like a music festival than a typical tech-conf. I heard many stories of people who went there and weren’t satisfied from the business point of view. So when I got an invitation to speak about the growth of Divante, eCommerce Software House during Web Summit Growth I knew I must be ready for this challenge.
Why do I think we succeeded?
After 3 days of the event, my numbers are:
– 40+ business meetings
– Meetings with the biggest potential clients we can aim for 15+ global brands
– 5 meetings with partners around the world that can really help us grow our product – Brazil, Canada, Malaysia etc.
– 6 new potential projects
– With our usual 30% success rate this means 2 contracts with the top clients which means a huge ROI
So how to succeed at Web Summit?
I started my preparation 3 weeks before the event. I was searching for attendees, speakers and partners that are in my specific target group – using Linkedin, Twitter and of course the Conf App (but the conf app was released quite late so it’s good to start independently). First I sent quite a general message and when someone responded I went very specific and to the point.
I get many messages from other Web Summit attendees. The majority of them were just typical cold-mail. Attendees are quite open to a meeting but the problem is that from a generic message, it is really hard to figure out if this meeting will be helpful. I don’t think that people will be ready to meet only to “discuss business opportunities” :-)
Know your goal
My goal was a business one. I aimed for one concrete meeting with global brand per day. That was my minimum plan. Every day this was something I was focused on and I didn’t think about other things before I succeeded at this.
I know many people who just wander from one point to another, collecting stuff and seeing random speeches. Don’t get me wrong – if you are going to WS to chill/inspire that is awesome. But then don’t complain about business results :)
This same goes for partying and meeting with friends. That is awesome too but for sure you can party in your city too. It’s just about being a realist about your time and goals :)
Product is very helpful
If you have your own product you can ask for feedback and you will not sound like a sales guy. We publish two products (OpenLoyalty.io, VueStorefront.io) and this helps me a lot. I think that if you don’t have a product you can still ask for a feedback on your offer or idea. But remember – be specific. The product or service or idea should be as relevant as possible to the profile of the person you are reaching out to.
I met some interesting people (a writer, an activist, but also potential business partners) while I was eating and drinking. Just smile and say ‘hello’. I never hear anyone grumble when doing so and this is very natural opportunity to just ask how this is going for you, what you are doing, what your company is, etc. Never eat alone at WS :)
Pick a spot easy to find
People waste a lof of time just trying to find each other. At the beginning of the first day I picked a spot, I made a photo of me at the spot and then I sent the photo every time I scheduled at the meeting. This is very helpful. Of course you must still be prepared for 10-15 min delays because people will not estimate correctly how much time they need to get to the meeting point.
Whenever you are taking an Uber or MyTaxi, offer help. I had a great conversation while giving someone a lift to his metro line. Lisbon is quite a crowded place so the city is on your side here :)
You can see presentations later
I pre-scheduled presentations but watching speeches were the lowest priority for me. You can always see them later on YouTube. I watched some presentations on the Opening Night and then one more during the whole 3 days. When I had some time I was looking for potential partners at stands but It was only once an hour or so.
If you are watching presentations it’s a really good idea to take notes just by tweeting. You can by chance produce quite popular tweets like one of mine below. Thanks to that tweet I got 40+ new followers :)
At Web Summit there were about 300+ Polish people. So this was also a good idea to re-connect. I’m not counting this as business meetings but it’s still a good and effective opportunity to stay in touch. I would advise meeting with friends but done so that you can meet someone new. Poles organized Polish Drinks and we met altogether so that was a great opportunity to meet new people or high-five with internet-only friends :)
Speak if you can
Having a badge that is kind of special is for sure good thing! I was invited as a speaker so I could enter closed zones and speaker-only parties. To be honest I don’t use this too much because it’s really easy to get distracted by all these fancy things. Remember about your goals. But still, I can feel that when you approach someone during lunch or drinks he is more open to speaking if you have one of these special badges. So If you have any chance to become a speaker, partner, guest – use this as leverage!
An App is The App
Register early, familiarize yourself with the app. This will be your command center. Organizers just force everyone to use the app. This is so brilliant! So you can approach literally every Web Summit guest through the App. Would you like to pitch Al Gore? Feel free, you have your chance here :)
Lisbon is the nicest place in the Europe. You should add 2-3 days to your schedule for: Porto/Wine tasting, Fado concert, Lisboa sight-seeing, Sintra trip. Many people go with a spouse and just spend 2-3 days having fun and celebrating a successful Event!
See you next year!