Since we’ve been building our company and brand for almost a year, we realized that one thing we haven’t done but would really love to was – visiting a conference for some international networking. So, one day in September we all talked and agreed that the Web Summit in Lisbon is literally a must-do! We jumped right into the planning mode by getting the summit tickets, looking for the perfect plane ride, and making some cool branded T-shirts and other promo stuff. Because if you want to go to a huge conference, you better dress yourself to stand out, or at least to be able to find your crew if you get lost in the vibrant sea of tech people.
We were so excited to be a part of the crowd of 70,000 people, and we started reaching out to other people who were going months before the summit. We wanted to weave a solid network before we even set foot in Lisbon.
Day 0 of the Summit
We’ve heard a lot about the enchanting beauty of Lisbon from some of our friends who were there before, so we set our sails with some images and a bit of expectation in our heads. But after landing there, all those expectations were so exceeded!
Day 0 of the summit was like stepping into another world because we could already feel the electric atmosphere of the summit already on the airplane. There, we bumped into many other attendees and the flight turned into a mini networking session in the sky. And the scale of the whole thing hit us when we got to the airport as part of it was transformed into a large registration hub for the summit. Everything was so impressively organized to handle loads of participants. We got our credentials very quickly – said our company name, had our tickets scanned, and voilà – we got our identification bracelets. We took our bags and headed out to our accommodation. We were all geared up for the days ahead, but first – some well deserved rest.
Day 1 of the Summit
Having arrived the night before the conference, we had our good night’s sleep, and decided to ease into the following day. The weather? A sunny 20°C November day, which we used to roam around the center of Lisbon before the summit began. The start was at 5 PM so we had almost the whole day for leisure.
Day 1 of the summit is more like a warm-up day, and introduction for all the attendees where you could listen to various industry experts, sponsors, and organizers giving speeches. There’s no need to be 100% ready to network right away, no need to hit the ground running, but just hang out, soak in some talks, and enjoy a few beers outside. We were still shaking off jet lag and getting our heads around the massive crowd, so it was nice not to have to dive deep into business stuff right away. It’s good to remember that day one’s chill – definitely helps keep the overwhelm at bay.
I didn’t know this before, but day one is just the tip of the iceberg. There are pavilions and a ton of events lined up for the rest of the summit. After catching a few opening speeches, enjoying some drinks, and meeting new people, we decided to head home for the evening.
Day 2 of the Summit
Fully rested, we were ready to dive into the second day for the summit. It was also our first time trying out social media interviews to create fresh content and spread the word about Heroic Rankings. And let me tell you, everything was buzzing with excitement! The day before, we were seeing many summit attendees in the city thanks to their name tags. Pro tip: If you see someone with a tag, feel free to go and say hi! Chances are, they’re just as keen to chat as you are.
One of our team members is super outgoing and chatty, you could say he’s a natural at mingling. He took the initiative of breaking the ice and approaching people to talk to. That encouraged the rest of us to let loose and mingle, as well.
The crowd at the Web Summit was super diverse! There were people without their own booths who came to promote their business. Next, you had various investors walking around, scouting for cool new SaaS startups. And of course, there were the startups themselves – the Alphas, the Betas, and those still in the Growth stage – all eager to showcase their products and attract potential partners and investors. The Web Summit has got a ticket for everyone – Women in Tech, scholars, partners, investors, executives, VIPs, speakers, chairpersons, guests, and media representatives.
We spent the entire second day meeting startups at their booths in the bustling Altice Arena. Some attendees were engrossed in guest speakers’ talks, others manned their stands, and many engaged in meetings or relaxed at food and drink booths. The post-introduction day energy was evident, with everyone eager to connect with those they wanted to meet. Our strategy involved scheduled meetings, which we attended in pairs to maximize our outreach.
Day 3 of the Summit
Determined to maximize our experience and being already familiar with the event’s dynamics, we rose early on the third day. It was when things really started to click for us because we felt more composed and ready to engage. This day also turned out to be remarkably productive as we made connections with a variety of potential partners. Our time in the arena was non-stop, and the only break we had was during lunch. We clocked about 15,000 steps by day’s end.
The evening brought a welcome change of pace. We were keen to continue networking in a more relaxed setting, so we planned to attend a scheduled dinner. However, our busy day and the city’s traffic had other plans, leading us to arrive late and ultimately landing us in Lisbon’s city center. Coincidentally, the Night Summit was in full swing nearby, featuring a lively karaoke night. Despite the crowds and a bit of a wait to get in, the atmosphere was really enjoyable.
A small note on the organization – the venue initially chosen struggled to accommodate the number of attendees, leading to a move to another location after a short wait. Yet, the night evolved into a memorable experience at a local nightclub, where we continued to hang out with other summit attendees. It’s worth noting that these Night Summit events often present excellent opportunities for networking, sometimes even more than the formal day events. So, a piece of advice: don’t skip these evening gatherings but try to make the most of them!
Day 4 of the Summit
By the time Day 4 of the summit rolled around, we had pretty much ticked off most of our meeting goals, so this day had a more relaxed, bonus feel to it.
Some of us hit the conference ground early, while the rest of the team kept busy lining up chats with potential partners. A real standout moment was our meet-up with Analyzee, a development company from Croatia. We knew about them before the summit and were seriously impressed by both their enthusiasm and their tool’s effectiveness. Getting to know them was definitely a highlight of our time there.
Our interactions were mostly with development companies and SaaS startups, especially those in the AI field, since artificial intelligence was a big theme this year. We couldn’t catch all the speeches due to time constraints, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s summit.
After the whirlwind of these days, we chose a low-key final night, just relaxing at our place and reflecting on everything we achieved and the lively vibe of Lisbon during the summit.
There was this real sense of pride in how we, as a young company, engaged at such a prestigious tech conference. Was it worth it? Absolutely. In the calm after the conference, I had the chance to really look at what we accomplished and how we measured up. Even though it was our first big conference, our prep with promotional materials and pre-planned meetings really paid off. We put our all into it, and it showed in the potential clients we connected with, setting us up for some exciting opportunities in 2024. Plus, the summit was a great chance for our team to bond, strengthen our personal ties, and reinforce our shared goals.
Tips for the Web Summit:
Engage in conversations with as many people as possible months or weeks before the Web Summit. It’s crucial to schedule meetings before the conference, as remembering everyone you’ve chatted with can be a challenge during the event.
Many attendees will be eager to talk, so they’ll appreciate your initiative in reaching out. Lisbon offers countless opportunities to meet potential clients in unexpected places, so embrace spontaneity.
Branded T-shirts are essential! Additionally, consider showcasing key aspects of your product or service. For instance, we displayed our link-building reports, demonstrating how we enhance business growth through effective link-building strategies.
Document Your Experience
Take plenty of pictures and film videos daily for quality content about your company/brand. Highlighting your participation in such a reputable conference can significantly boost your company’s profile.
Send Follow-up Emails
After the conference, promptly remind the people you spoke with about your conversation. A quick email can help refresh their memory about you and introduce your product or service offers.
Make Google Sheets for Prospects
Keep a well-organized document listing all the contacts you make. With the high volume of interactions at the conference, it’s easy to lose track, so this list can be an invaluable resource.
Buy Tickets Early in Promotion Packages
Take advantage of promotional offers, like getting two tickets for the price of one if you book just after the conference. Also, look out for discounts, such as reduced prices for female team members on Women’s Day.
Reflecting on our journey at the Web Summit, I’m struck by the impact it had not just on our business, but also on our personal growth. Lisbon’s atmosphere and dynamic energy provided the perfect backdrop for an event that was as much about creating meaningful connections as it was about exploring the latest in marketing and technology. Our interactions, particularly with AI-focused startups, opened our eyes to the boundless potential of tech-driven innovation.
As we leave the Summit, we take with us not just professional contacts but also a renewed sense of purpose and a wealth of memories. This experience went beyond a typical business conference, turning into a journey full of discovery and inspiration. For those thinking about attending the Web Summit, it offers a chance for not only business growth but also for significant personal and team development.