Unless any of the following applies . . .
- You live under a rock
- You have a severe aversion to Twitter
- You ignore feature stories in all leading national newspapers
- You have absolutely zero interest in Bono, Eva Longoria, or Taoiseach Enda Kenny
. . . you’ll be aware that a little something called Web Summit is happening right now here in Dublin.
But what exactly is it?
Yes, techies, believe it or not, there are those people out there who are not yet familiar with Europe’s largest tech event. in fact, I myself was one of them up until March of this year when I joined Clinch!
So, for my fellow non-Web-Summit-savvy types, here are the key stats.
- The Dublin Web Summit first took place four years ago, with 400 people turning up to check it out.
- This year, the event welcomes close to 22,000 people.
- It has been called "the best technology conference on the planet."
- Taking place in the RDS and spanning three days, Web Summit 2014 boasts 9 different stages, 6 individual summits (Marketing, Builders, Enterprise, Machine, Music / Sport / Film, and Food) and 600 speakers from the worlds of tech, film and media, sports, food, and business.
- People are travelling to Web Summit from 109 different countries and around 13,000 hotel rooms and B&Bs have been booked to accommodate the influx.
- The estimated value to the economy is €100million.
Delighted at having been selected to receive a free ticket to this year’s event, I headed over to the RDS this morning to ease myself into the Web Summit madness prior to assuming booth duties for Clinch tomorrow.
This thing is a big deal. The line for registration snaked right around the front of the RDS and down Merrion Road. So, a note to those who’ve yet to pick up passes: get there early and wrap up warm! Chances are, there’ll be a wait.
Armed with a map, my Web Summit chat app, and a keen sense of curiosity, I headed into “The Town” area, where the Marketing, Machine, and Builders Summits were located. Having yet to represent Clinch at a conference of any scale, I was curious to see how other startups that were exhibiting were connecting, or attempting to connect, with general attendees.
Drawing on my own experiences and observations, here are just a few tips on how to make the most of your time at Web Summit:
1. Be Friendly
People buy into people as much as they buy into product. I was much more inclined to approach and engage with the companies whose team members made an effort to attract my attention with a smile and a “hello” as I passed by.
If you’re exhibiting at Web Summit, chances are, you’re excited about and proud of your product or service. You want people to walk away from your stand with a positive impression of your company and its offering, so it makes sense to start off on the right foot with a friendly invitation to come over and learn more.
It's advice that I think applies to making the most of Web Summit experience in general - whether you're an exhibitor, or just someone hoping to make connections.
2. Be Fearless
It may not be within your comfort zone to initiate interactions with strangers, but listen, feck it: Web Summit happens but once a year. It's an amazing opportunity to generate interest in your idea, but you're competing with thousands of others for that attention. If ever there was a time to swallow your shyness and strike up a conversation, it's over the course of these next three days.
3. Be Tweeting
Of course, not all invitations to connect are done in person. A quick Twitter search of #websummit allowed me to see that some of the more pro-active companies were sharing info on their exact location at the event and asking followers to drop by the booth. And it works, too: @Popdeem, and @SpunOut, I'm coming for you tomorrow!
No Web Summit: Day 1 experience would be complete without checking out a big name speaker on Centre Stage. I, for one, was not going to miss actress Eva Longoria. Best known for her role as Gabrielle Solis in "Desperate Housewives," Longoria is also a highly regarded philanthropist, and she spoke about her charity work, as well as the challenges faced by women in film, TV, and business today.
On the topic of ageism in Hollywood, and the lack of choice roles for older women, or women who don’t fit a certain visual, Longoria ventured that the problem has a lot to do with the fact that “there aren’t enough women behind the camera.”
"Women are highly complex," she said, which is why we are best equipped to create the roles that do us justice. She shared a piece of advice that she often gives to people in the Latin community who feel they are underrepresented in film and TV:
“Create and write the story you want to see.” - Eva Longoria, Web Summit 2014
Now, being completely honest, I’d gone along for no other reason than to catch a glimpse of a glamorous Hollywood star. And yet, her words had struck a chord - not just for me as a woman, but for me as a writer, a source of ideas, and a content creator.
Just goes to show: it's not just technical innovation that the Web Summit inspires!
Come On Over!
Clinch will be exhibiting at the Enterprise Summit tomorrow, so if you’re heading over to the RDS, please be sure to stop by and say hello! I’ll be there, along with Steve, one of our supremely-talented developers, ready to answer all of your questions and tell you all about Clinch! We look forward to meeting you then!