5 Reasons to Attend Conferences

The convenience of running a SaaS business from wherever you please—whether that is the comfort of your own home or from a beach in the Caribbean—is one of the factors that makes it so appealing, but it can come with a downside. Finding valuable interaction with knowledgeable peers who can offer unique perspectives into your business requires more concerted effort when you are a solo founder, and it can often be written off as an unnecessary investment. However, SaaS professionals should not discount the value
that can come of conversations with other innovators in your industry, and conferences are consistently cited as one of the best ways to facilitate scaling a business.

1. Network

There is no faster way to build a network than in person. While tools like LinkedIn are fantastic for prospecting and keeping an eye on the community, often relationships convert to real opportunities when fostered face-to-face. You can spend days looking for someone’s email, only to finally get in their inbox but not have them take the opportunity you present simply because they were busy. At an industry conference, however, people are already in the mindset to connect, learn, grow and take the opportunities in front of them. Not only that, but the chances that those in attendance are more ambitious and proactive are much higher. Successful SaaS founders consistently report that some of the biggest turning points come from people they meet and the opportunities that come from them. Partnerships are more fluidly formed from in person conversations, creating the possibility to be converted later via email and leading to real growth opportunities, in ways we can’t always expect. Take Tom Gonser, the founder of DocuSign, who stated that the tipping point for the multi-billion dollar company was a partnership he formed with a real estate company, which put “DocuSign” next to every signature that was signed and led to the product’s popularity.

2. Speaker Content

There is no faster way to build a network than in person. While tools like LinkedIn are fantastic for prospecting and keeping an eye on the community, often relationships convert to real opportunities when fostered face-to-face. You can spend days looking for someone’s email, only to finally get in their inbox but not have them take the opportunity you present simply because they were busy. At an industry conference, however, people are already in the mindset to connect, learn, grow and take the opportunities in front of them. Not only that, but the chances that those in attendance are more ambitious and proactive are much higher. Successful SaaS founders consistently report that some of the biggest turning points come from people they meet and the opportunities that come from them. Partnerships are more fluidly formed from in person conversations, creating the possibility to be converted later via email and leading to real growth opportunities, in ways we can’t always expect. Take Tom Gonser, the founder of DocuSign, who stated that the tipping point for the multi-billion dollar company was a partnership he formed with a real estate company, which put “DocuSign” next to every signature that was signed and led to the product’s popularity.

3. Learn from peers

A good industry conference will provide the opportunity to meet and connect with your peers to learn how they are creatively solving key business problems. More and more successful founders state how much more beneficial it is to treat other SaaS founders as a community, rather than competitors. This is not to say you need to give away trade secrets to your direct competitor in order to build a community; often, just as many synergies and partnerships can be found in complementary products. For instance, leaving a conference having spoken to the founder of a popular app your customers would like integrated in your business can lead to working together on that integration, making more customers happy for both of you and not costing you any competitive advantage. You will have a unique opportunity to talk to the exact relevant business owners to learn about strategies they have employed to lift their product off the webpage, stand out to customers and ultimately reduce churn to increase profits for long-term success.

4. Teach your peers

Have you just solved a major problem that you are excited to help others solve? Perhaps you are a consultant whose business is built upon offering your professional advice to SaaS founders, investors, marketers and owners, and you want to convince people that your services would increase their profits. This is much easier to relay in person and help them with a relevant question that they actually have, rather than send 100 cold emails, and the subsequent follow-ups. Demonstrating your ability to offer enough insight to solve a burning question for them is a much more convincing way to convert a potential customer than over email.

5. Find new opportunities

With so many ideas and experiences flying around in conversation, conferences are great places to learn about possibilities that may have never been on your radar. For instance, it is easy to silo yourself into thinking that you might never be able to sell your business or secure investment because you believe you are in the wrong niche, your business is too young (or old) or the model is not transferrable. Talk to business owners who can share how they went about selling their business, or secured investment to help you gain a more realistic picture of the possibilities. Being honest and vulnerable will pay dividends at conferences.

The online SaaS community is a great way to stay connected, but there is no replacement for word of mouth and shared experiences when it comes to forming relationships, securing new partnerships and learning from experts in the field. They don’t all have to break the bank, either. Some conferences, like LTV Conf and SaaStock, offer discounted and/or scholarship tickets. The key is to pick something industry-focused, and small enough that networking will be a fruitful endeavor.

 

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