One of your most important resources as an entrepreneur is networking with other successful, driven and like-minded people. One great way to achieve this is to attend a conference geared toward startups. You'll meet investors, executives and technical experts who are going through the same challenges as you. You'll get up to speed with the latest social media, technology and advertising trends. There are literally hundreds of startup conferences all over the nation this spring and summer, so how will you choose?

Social Media Week

Get some international perspective and attend one of 10 conferences to be held in major cities across the globe.  Learn about innovations in technology that are utilizing and driving social media, like mobile application development and crowdfunding.  Explore the cultural impacts of advertising your products and services in a global economy, and meet up with peers and investors that can get your idea off the ground.

Southeast Venture Conference 2013 – March 13, 14

Not all the startup fun needs to be had on the West Coast! This year marks the seventh annual Southeast Venture Conference, which will be held in North Carolina. This conference will be attended by hundreds of entrepreneurs that are leading the way in high tech fields. Expect to rub elbows with startup executives, venture capitalists and members of private industry. If you're looking to get funding or maintain funding for your startup, this is the place to be.

Global Entrepreneurship Week – November 18-24

With 115 countries participating in this conference, you can connect with investors about your latest ideas.  This will be the 6th year for this worldwide event, with over 24,000 partners and top leaders helping to shape the conference agendas.  The focus of Global Entrepreneurship Week is on startups that drive economic growth and improve the welfare of people of all nationalities.

Online Marketing Summit – Feb 11-13

Sunny San Diego awaits marketing entrepreneurs for this three-day conference. Learn about the technology that's impacting mobile advertising, search engine optimization and customer engagement online. This year's Online Marketing Summit will focus on targeting new customers using digital marketing.

TechCrunch Disrupt – April 27-May 1

You know it's going to be a great conference when it starts with a Hackathon! Hope you didn't come all dressed up and ready to hob-nob with a bunch of suits. Scrap the stuffy presentations and get ready to launch your startup — live. TechCrunch Disrupt gives you a chance to compete with 30 other Startups for a $50,000 prize.

What to Bring to a Startup Conference

Of course, you'll want to bring business cards, but what else should you prepare for?  Consult this list:

  • Elevator Pitch – Have your elevator pitch ready, but don't overuse it, and pitch it at the right time.  Ask about the other person first.  Then briefly offer your elevator pitch, relating it to what they were already talking about.  They'll remember you as the one who listened to their ideas, not the self-centered startup that boasted incessantly.
  • Stories – Have some stories ready to share that are entertaining.  The worst concept you ever tried.  The funniest or most embarrassing thing that happened when you were running an ad campaign or launched a product.  Be entertaining and you'll make more genuine connections.
  • Something to Demo – You've invested a lot to get to a startup conference and now's your chance to pitch to investors.  Don't show up empty-handed.  Be ready to demo a simple webpage or blog that showcases your startup concept.

When you're done rubbing elbows with the world's greatest entrepreneurs and investors, use the momentum to get fired up — and get funded!