Demo this! The best industry events (and hidden gems) for agencies to attend in 2023

Get out there

It’s been a comfortable year or two in the home office, so why pack a suitcase, jump onto a crowded plane, and get lost in a strange city searching for an eight-dollar low-caf-mocha-freddo? Whether it be a conference, congress, seminar, or workshop, the best industry events are mostly just another chance to network.

They usually offer a mix of “something for everyone,” except for enough chocolate chip cookies, right?

You probably also have enough internal contacts and knowledge already, so why bother attending? Probably for some real face-time.

Most companies have since learned that employees can work effectively from home and how to manage the necessary tech for that. However, now that the standstill is mostly over, people are eager to travel and meet real people in real places.

“People are so hungry for face-to-face contact, so excited to see colleagues they haven’t seen in two years, that conferences are building extra time for networking more than they did before the pandemic.”
Forbes

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that most of us spent everything from client meetings to holiday parties talking to a screen. Online conferences and workshops have also become commonplace over the last two years.

Are industry events still useful in 2023?

There are countless industry events in the United States each year, either in person, online — or both. Some companies attend industry events so religiously that we find ourselves asking Are those marketing people ever not at an event? Or How does IT manage support when they are at a new workshop each week?

We often attend events for various reasons, such as, presenting our own products or services or keeping an eye on what our competitors are presenting. By participating in such events, we can improve our branding and signal presence in the industry or within our own company.

Attending any event gives us a chance to make direct contact with potential customers, partners, employees, or perhaps even that person we fell in love with over the waffle buffet at the last industry event. Wherever it happens, meeting people establishes new connections and reaffirms existing ones.

Many of us work for larger companies too, and industry events are an excellent chance to be seen, especially if we’re new employees.

As a business, we have to be seen. The best industry events are the three-dimensional, real-time equivalent of our website’s SEO. You have to get in front of people, or they simply won’t know you’re there, and if they can’t see you, you can’t sell anything.

What’s better, being in the office or at a conference?

Our bosses may not necessarily like industry events unless they’re attending since sending employees to an event means that they’re not in the office. Events cost money, and after a few events, you may ask yourself what another event will bring you.

Wouldn’t it be better to stay in the office and get through that stack of emails? Isn’t updating the latest content a better use of your time than sitting in an overheated conference room?

Industry events can be helpful for your company and yourself, and depending on your industry and the WiFi quality, you can probably work on the road. That will keep your boss happy!

What attending an industry event brings to your agency

You can already be active even before attending an event by:

  • Sharing about the event on social media
  • Connecting with other attendees
  • Reaching out to the organizers, especially if you‘re coming from far away
  • Checking out the event website and identify people you want to connect with
  • Thinking of topics of conversation and having answers to questions ready
  • And inviting others!

What does attending bring you? You’ll already be present before you get there, so the day(s) in question means that your networking is already in full swing. You’ll develop collaboration ideas and gain new contacts when you’re there.

Let the event work on you — it may even give you a different perspective on how you or your company does things.

Hot tips when attending industry events

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we interact with others. And frankly, some of us forgot how to network. Let’s do a bit of review to activate your networking muscle memory!

The extra 1% — think about what you can do to make the event momentous. Set a goal! What will your KPIs be? A new customer? A new contact in another company? Don’t go without a goal. Go prepared.

Reach out to people before the event, and don’t be afraid to ask!

Everyone will be busy, but if you can organize a fifteen-minute coffee meet-up beforehand, you’ll be in a better position than if you’re waiting in the crowd for any talks that interest you.

Don’t be shy on social media. The excitement peaks on event day, and then it’s gone, so participate as much as possible online and offline. Follow up on any contacts you make. Thank people who gave you their time or their merchandise too!

Enjoy yourself! You’re away from your desk and probably being paid while at the industry event, so focus and be present because you’ll be back at your desk soon enough.

Networking hot tip #1: Limit your public phone use

It’s tempting to be on your phone; we’re all used to doing it these days, but people won’t say hi if you’re hiding behind your device, as your body language communicates that you’re busy. You and your agency are at the event to make friends, so if you must take a work call, move to a more private location.

Networking hot tip #2: Make eye contact

It’s okay to make eye contact. Say hi! One of the best tips I learned to introduce myself is to tilt your head, smile, and reach out your hand to shake theirs. “Hi, I’m MikeDemo. Nice to meet you.” You’ll be surprised at how well it eases the tension of meeting new people. And if you’re nervous, that’s okay! Everyone is nervous.

Networking hot tip #3: Switch up the icebreaker

It’s easy to ask people what they do, but likely they’re your peers. Switch up your icebreaker by asking a fun question like, “What’s your favorite dinosaur?” This is a tip I learned from Amber Pechin on WPwatercooler.

Other fun questions include, “What’s your favorite TikiBar?” “Who would win a new client faster, Darth Vader or Sauron?” “What song are you currently obsessed with?” You never know what inspiration and connection you’ll build.

Networking hot tip #4: Update your profile photos

If you’ve grown or shaved your beard, changed your hair color, or got new glasses, be sure to update your photo on your social accounts. It’s a bit frustrating when the person doesn’t look like their photo, and they presume you’ll recognize them because you chatted about whether GitKracken is the best tool.

(Bonus: A great pre-networking tip is to find attendees on Twitter and set up meetings before the event.)

Networking hot tip #5: Bring physical business cards

Yes, physical business cards are still alive, and keep your agency top of mind. When printing business cards, use a local printer, VistaPrint, or even Canva. Make sure to have plenty of cards on hand – with the correct information.

You can always go high-tech for a business card, but if the WiFi is less than ideal, scanning that QR code becomes frustrating. Or use Linq Cards to get the best of both worlds (this is my Linq profile, let’s connect)!

Networking hot tip #6: Have goals for yourself and your team

If you’ve been part of BNI like I have or other lead-sharing organizations, it is easy to want to meet as many people as possible. That’s certainly a reasonable goal as long as you quantify it. Instead, set a realistic goal to meet 5 new people each afternoon or exchange contact information with one person per session.

It’s a good idea to set team goals as well. Ask your members to take notes on things they learned, how they would apply that information, or why they disagree with it. Think book report but with real-life application to your agency.

Networking hot tip #7: Wear your event badge at the lapel level

Lanyards are great swag, and your web agency may even have custom lanyards for visibility. Still, we often forget the trees for the forest, meaning the purpose of an event badge is so other attendees can easily – and from a distance – read our name.

Reading names from badges on lanyards hanging on our bodies is awkward at best… you get the idea.

The best industry events to keep on your radar for 2023

Even if you can’t make the events in the first quarter of 2023, bookmark these conferences. Spending time in the fourth quarter planning your event budget for the next year will set your web agency on the right foot.

It may inspire new marketing campaigns, help you reach another audience, or bring cohesion among your agency’s sales, marketing, and development teams.

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – January 5-8, 2023

Web agencies are often the tech translators for their clients, so attending CES is a good way to stay abreast of new devices your clients may purchase. CES is the most influential tech event of the year — you don’t want to miss it. This is where the biggest tech brands in the world do business.

It’s in Las Vegas, too, so are you feeling lucky?

THAT Conference – January 15-18, 2023

Do you remember that conference? No, I mean that other one. THAT conference? Yes! This summer camp in the middle of the Texas winter is for software enthusiasts passionate about all things mobile, web, cloud, technology — and waterparks.

This conference is for code-loving people who want to learn and share. And yes, your family is invited because there’s a family ticket and events.

Developer Week – February 15-17 and February 20-23, 2023

Developer Week has two versions of their conferences spread over two times in February. The in-person conference will be held in San Francisco on February 15-17, and the virtual event will be held on February 21-23.

Developer Week is the largest developer conference, with 8,000+ developers, engineers, software architects, dev teams, managers, and executives from 70+ countries gathering to discover the latest in developer technologies, languages, platforms, and tools.

WordCamp Asia – February 17-19, 2023

WordCamp Asia is in the first quarter of 2023, and this year it takes place in Thailand. It’s a great opportunity to travel, meet other web agencies like yourselves, and possibly meet agencies specializing in outsourcing development.

Unfortunately, this conference is sold out, but this is an unofficial guide on monitoring the website to get a ticket (this method can also be used to monitor other websites).

Chief Product Officer Summit – March 15, 2023

If you’re senior management or the chief product officer and like rubbing shoulders with like-minded folk from Netflix, Expedia, VISA, and Airbnb, this is the conference for you, and it is not your average conference. Network, develop, and evangelize your product vision together with others.

CloudFest – March 21-23, 2023

If you like amusement parks, Germany, and working in the cloud, then Cloudfest 2023 is for you. You’ll network with others in Europa Park, in Germany’s famous Black Forest, exhibit your products, enjoy the theme hotels, and learn how to future-proof your business in the resilient cloud.

Whether your business is digital supply chains, cyber security, sustainability, or marketing, your head will be in the cloud for three exciting days at this premiere event.

Tip: Attend the CloudFest Hackathon before the main event, which many WordPress companies such as Codeable, host projects and sponsor.

DigiMarCon Cruise – April 6-10, 2023

This is not just “any agency event” – it’s a “cruise to Mexico and back agency event!” Get onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing from Orlando, Florida, to Cozumel, Mexico, and back for five days of digital marketing, media, and advertising. A vacation you can write off? Yes, please.

An Event Apart – April 24-26, 2023

Attendees of THAT event may also be found at An Event APART. The three-day Seattle conference focuses on digital design, UX, content, and code – pretty much everything that rocks your marketing business.

The Book Apart people coordinate the event, and this is not meant to be a plug, but their short books on every design topic under the sun are just brilliant.

Hot Tip: Grab a few of their books before you travel — they’re lightweight and easy to digest on the move.

B2B Online – May 1-3, 2023

If your company’s focus is manufacturing and distributing, then B2B Online in Chicago this May is the place to be. The tenth anniversary of this conference is sure to attract even bigger names than in the past.

If you’re a part of the B2B community and want to meet, collaborate, and learn with others, then you will not want to miss this event.

Web Summit – May 1-4, 2023

After a cold winter, a conference in Rio de Janeiro is probably just what you want! The first Web Summit outside of Europe will be held in Rio in 2023. They are expecting 15,000 techies at the event, so if you’re going to miss Collision in June, then make sure to attend Web Summit.

Both events are great places to meet up with startup investors, too.

ATypI Paris – May 10-13, 2023

This may not seem like your typical agency event, but it’s about typography, and it’s in Paris. Where would marketing be without words? Speechless, right? And Paris, the home of the advertising poster, is the cradle of advertising.

Am I right? Certainement!

SmashingConf – May 23-26, 2023

It’s hard not to think of Austin Powers saying “Smashing” when you look at this must-attend front-end conference in San Francisco. Your web agency can brush up on accessibility best practices, get better at using Tailwind CSS, and meet 250-400 new friends (or partners).

SmashingConf prides itself on being a friendly, inclusive, and interactive event with hands-on workshops. They focus on ensuring you can learn something from every talk, with actionable insights for your work that will improve your agency.

DrupalCon – June 5-18, 2023

Drupal, the open-source enterprise content management system for your website beloved by many, meets in June for its annual DrupalCon in Pittsburgh. Drupal and WordPress have a lot in common, so if you’re in one CMS camp and looking for something new, check out the competition in 2023!

Many companies span both CMS so you may meet some familiar faces there. In fact, Yoast, Google, Amazon, and more offer modules (plugins in WordPress) in both systems.

WordCamp Europe – June 8-10, 2023

This year’s WordCamp Europe takes place in Athens, Greece, so if you ever needed an excuse to see the Parthenon, do it — because who doesn’t love international travel as a business expense?

Additionally, if your web agency is US-based, it is very easy to get into a rut, so meeting your international peers will allow for inspiration and ideas to collide.

Collision Conference – June 26-29, 2023

The Collision tech conference in beautiful Toronto, Canada, is the perfect place to bump into people in June 2023! More than 30,000 people attended in 2022, making it Canada’s largest tech conference to date, so you’ll have the chance to network ‘til you drop.

This event is perfect if you’re a startup too. Just know that attendees tend to be dressy casual, even for peripheral events. Can you say venture capital and lead generation? (Just sayin’.)

WordCamp US – August 24-26, 2023

WordCamp US travels around the country and has had quite a few dates. This year it will be in the late summer. This event tends to be one of the larger WordCamps, though WCEU has had larger attendance and also offers virtual events.

You will be able to interact with sponsors more personally by putting names to the faces of your favorite GoDaddy team members. Oh, and let me mention that there are many opportunities for hiring at WordCamp events – so get your Calendly ready to book interviews.

INDUSTRY: The Product Conference – October 2-4, 2023

Software product managers unite! INDUSTRY returns to Cleveland in 2023 after a successful event in 2019. Workshops, round tables, a Talk Shop, and many other networking opportunities mean that this conference needs to be on your autumn agenda.

Need help convincing your boss to let you go? The INDUSTRY conference website offers a ready-made email you can send them.

STORY – No 2023 Dates At the Time of Publishing

Storytelling is so integral to our humanity that parts of our brains are dedicated to creating stories from our experiences. STORY is devoted to the art of humanity – so much so that folks from Apple, Nike, and Google attend.

If you’re a creator, you must attend this conference, or if you feel like your web agency is in a rut with your marketing, then you must attend this conference.

What Conferences Will You Attend in 2023?

Are you convinced that the best industry events are a must for your web agency? Have fun, learn, and network. You may even meet even more great folks from the GoDaddy Pro community.

You already love the free tools that save your web agency time managing your sites, clients, and projects. That’s a lot of win-win.

 

 

 

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Mike Demo
Mike "Demo" Demopoulos is a lover of open source first, specific tools later. Because of this, he speaks at Ignite! Conferences, Meetups, WordCamps, Joomla! Events, and more. As a helpful person, he gladly contributes to Open Source projects in any capacity necessary. Aligned with his mission to empower WordPress experts, Mike is now the Expert Community Development Lead at Codeable.