My first time at the Web Summit! And it's been almost... “surreal”, I'm still having trouble believing that I did, indeed, attend it (has it been a month already?).
You go over all the numbers (60000 names, 1200 speakers etc.), you scan through the overwhelmingly long list of participants (packed with awe-inspiring names) and you start to feel just like a... kid going to Disneyland for the first time:
- Am I really going to attend these talks?
- Be in the same room (even if in the very last row... these are just details) with all these... tech and business giants?
- Get close to all these inspiring innovators (I know, I know: I start to sound like a fanatic)?
- And last but definitely not least: get to immense myself in this astonishing city?
Of course, once you go through the list over and over again, you use the app day and night and you burst with over-excitement, you gradually... cool down and start doing your homework.
To properly prep for meeting all these influencers. For you do want to make the most of your staying there and not waste anyone's time.
But before I go on with my list of tips and advice on how to prepare for a Web Summit — whether you're a startup founder or a tech enthusiast — allow me to share with you some glimpses of my actual experience:
1. Got There Pumped Up for the Event and Left Head Over Heels in Love With... Lisbon!
For it's simply... breathtaking!
Lisbon lures you in to explore it, then it crawls into your heart and... gets stuck to it!
The cosmopolitan city basking in the sun has been the host of “the best technology conference on the planet” for the second year in a row. And this after the conference had spent its “childhood” in Dublin and... well... got a bit... too much for the Irish capital city.
And organizers couldn't have picked a better “host”:
- the city of Lisbon had the capacity to easily accommodate the heavy influx of participants
- it took me about 40 minutes to get from the venue to the city centre, by subway
- I got (thank God!) stable internet connection throughout my staying there
- there were no discouragingly large crowds gathered around the exhibit stands
2. Attended Talks and Conferences: My Top Favorites
For even though some more experienced Web Summit participants might advise you to watch the speeches on YouTube — and instead, while there, to network like there's no tomorrow (or a next web summit to attend) — I stuck to my own schedule.
It would have been inconceivable for me not to attend the conferences and talks that I was so looking forward to.
And here's a short list of the ones that I loved best:
- Stephen's Hawking's Talk on Disruptive Technology, on how “Artificial intelligence comes, and this can become both a major success and the main failure of mankind “, that if it's not geared exclusively at SERVING humanity (and not the other way around)
- Bryan Johnson's (the CEO of Kernel) Talk on Prioritizing Humanity, above all, and the stringent need for people to learn to adapt to the newly emerging tasks that disruptive technologies assign to them
- Margrethe Vestager's, The European Union's Commissioner for Competition, Talk on Fair Play and Tech (filled with self-evident examples of invasive usages of technology and of tech giants engaging in tax invasion)
- Dana Settle's (Greycroft) and Jim Breyer's (Breyer Capital) Speech answering the legitimate “Where to Invest in 2018?” question: in core technologies, practical and simple apps, (e.g. virtual, personal health assistants) in AI, machine learning; a talk with a focus on China as the world's second largest AI development center
3. And Now: My Top Pre-Event Preparation Tips and Tricks
Let me switch from what might look like me bragging about my experience at the Lisbon Web Summit 2017, to me sharing some practical tips with you.
Some advice on how to properly plan out your attendance and prepare like a pro' for the event:
- First of all: start your pre-conference preparations long time in advance (a month before or so)
- Next, download the Web Summit app; and this is a true power placed in your hands if you know just to harness its full potential
- Then, it's time you do your homework: delve deep into the wide list of participants (luckily you'll find them all right there, listed in the app), scan them through, read bios, do your research work and reach out to them (be perseverant), make connections, schedule meetings
- The event's app will be your most reliable ally thanks to its conveniently easy-to-use and time-saving filters: don't be afraid to use them
- Rely on keyword search, as well, and put together a list including ONLY those people whom you'd just die to meet and chat with, who inspire you, whose story you're fascinated with, who are most likely to provide you with information that's 100% relevant for your industry
- Put together a schedule of meetings, for once you get there... you risk to be swept by the “whirlpool”. It will help you stay focused, stay organized and maximize all your networking opportunities once you're at the summit
In short: there's no easy way to properly prep for the Web Summit 2018; no quick trick or secret recipe to making connections and scheduling meetings so that you land in Lisbon with a solid strategy at hand, that you'll just need to... execute to perfection.
It's all about kneeing deep in the discouragingly rich database of participants, running a rigorous selection and reaching out to people.
4. Web Summit 2018: My Advice on How to Make the Most of It
So, with your list of contacts plus your schedule of meetings in one pocket and your Web Summit app in the other one you... arrive in Lisbon.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your next/first web summit attendance:
- Schedule all the talks and conferences that you want to attend; in this respect, the recommendation feature and the event calendar — 2 of the app's key features — make some really powerful tools
- Next, remember that people connect more easily outside conference halls and that networking at Web Summit doesn't end at sunset; be ready to attend some of the night events (parties here included!) scheduled for the Night Summit; pub-crawl, interact, make connections while you're having some well-deserved fun, as well, after a full, hectic day
- But probably the only really “strict” advice to follow while at the Web Summit is: Be creative! Don't be shy to reach out to people, you'll be surprised to discover that some of them are really willing to share their experiences/expertise (for that's why they go there after all, to network with people passionate about innovation, with disruptive technologies enthusiasts, like you, after all), to create your own networking opportunities
And this is my (first) Web Summit experience in a few words and my tips for you if you're planning to hit the 2018's tech conference!
Stay tuned! In our next post we'll be sharing with you a tried-and-tested step-by-step guide on how to network like rockstar — as a startup company — at Web Summit 2018!