The 50 Best Conferences to Attend This Year
If you’re looking to get up to speed on the latest developments in your field, hear inspiring keynotes from thought leaders, or rub elbows with other professionals, conferences are the place to be. But with so many options out there (and probably a limited budget for attending them), choosing which conferences to devote your time to can be challenging.
So, we decided to do the legwork for you and made a list of what we think are the coolest conferences to go to this year. Whatever your industry (or budget), you're sure to find the perfect option for you.
New York, October 7-8
Come hear an amazing group of inspirational speakers—including the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Gilbert, and Simon Sinek—who are paving their own way and challenging traditions in business. You’ll be inspired by fresh ideas, start rethinking the status quo, and leave ready to tackle your own business challenges in creative and innovative ways.
New York, May 1-2
Having big ideas is great, but they’re not worth anything if you can’t, well, make them happen. That’s what 99U is all about. You’ll hear from leading creative visionaries including Seth Godin, Jason Fried of 37Signals, and Tina Roth Eisenberg of Creative Mornings on how they’ve found success—and leave with a toolbox full of ways to turn your idea into a reality.
New York, May 14-15
Are you interested in how you can use the ideas of entrepreneurship to make change in any organization? Join others who are making an impact to discuss innovation, the ins and outs of launching a startup, and how to redefine traditional views of women in leadership. The event is invite-only, but invitations can be requested.
Austin, March 7-16
SXSW brings together entrepreneurs, creatives, innovators, and influencers for a sneak peek into the future of technology and digital creativity. You’ll get to rub shoulders with some of the best minds of the startup world and learn about the newest websites, games, and startups—all while having a great time in the hippest city in Texas.
Phoenix, October 8-11
The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the place to go to be inspired and empowered as a woman in technology, whether you’re a student or a senior industry specialist. This year’s conference will include panels, workshops, presentations, and more centered around the hottest areas in technology right now, including data science, security, gaming, and wearable computing.
New York, May 5-7
TechCrunch Disrupt NYC is often named the hottest tech conference of the year. Kicking off with a hackathon, Disrupt also features pitches from up-and-coming startups, rock star tech speakers, and a series of panels to get you inspired for the future of tech.
Laguna Beach, CA, October 27-29
This year focused on the theme “Where Digital Worlds Connect,” the WSJ.D conference will bring together renown CEOs, aspiring entrepreneurs, industry experts, and more for three days of inspiring debate and discussion about technology in today’s world.
Miami, May 1-7 | Detroit, May 19-25 | Chicago, June 23-29 | New York, September 29-October 5 | Los Angeles, November 17-23
Whether you’re looking to experience emerging trends in tech, are looking for a job in the field, or just want to have a little fun with your other tech enthusiasts, Techweek is the place to be. The conference aims to help enable the “innovation ecosystem” by bringing together the tech community under one roof to enjoy everything from speakers to a startup expo to a hiring fair and more.
London, June 9-10
Looking to connect with some of the biggest names in tech in the European market—and from around the world? LeWeb is an international conference for aspiring entrepreneurs, startups, and media leaders, making this conference the perfect venue for getting inspired, building relationships, and attracting media attention.
Sales & Marketing
New York | Tokyo | Milan | Hamburg | Copenhagen | Barcelona | Bangalore | Lagos, February 17-21
Social Media Week is a global conversation about how we can achieve more in an hyper-connected world. With over 2,500 events in cities around the globe, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with other organizations that are innovating in the social space, collaborate on solutions for the future, and make an impact with social media.
Dallas, June 3-5
$495 (BOGO until February 25)
Summer Brand Camp puts a new spin on conferences, bringing together marketing, human resources, and operations leaders to mix and mingle in a three-day “camp.” Not only will you hear some of the latest and greatest insights in branding and marketing, you’ll get to bond with your fellow attendees a little more than usual (group talent show, anyone?).
12. Incite Summit
San Francisco, May 13-14 | Europe, June | New York, September 18-19
Unlike typical conferences, Incite lets you help build the agenda! (In fact, if you share your opinions about the agenda, you can save $250.) Collaborate on who you want to hear from and what you want to hear about—from marketing and customer experience to publishing. Then, come hear from execs and communications experts from some of the biggest brands out there.
13. BMA 14
Chicago, May 28-30
Are you a B2B marketing nerd? Then get ready to head to the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference, where you’ll spend two days discussing the latest and greatest in the marketing industry, from content marketing to growth hacking and more.
Cleveland, September 8-11
Content Marketing World wants you to be able to make content that inspires your audience, and it will help you get there with speakers from Kraft, Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, and many other major brands doing cool things with content marketing. You’ll leave with more new ideas (and connections) than you know what to do with.
Seattle, July 14-16
MozCon brings you three days of fascinating speakers and workshops focused on social media, SEO, analytics, content strategy, and much more. Connect with an awesome community, get to know other up-and-coming disruptors, and join in on the party afterward.
16. OMMA Social
New York, May 20
As social media becomes a bigger part of more and more components of business, OMMA Social wants to make sure you’re using it right. You'll learn all the trends in social media today, have the opportunity to network with social media gurus and agency execs, and attend workshops teaching you how to best use the tools you have.
Boston, October 8-10
If you’re curious about creating amazing content, using big data in your business, or seeing just how big your marketing influence is, don’t miss out on the B2B Marketing Forum. The three-day event is filled with presentations and breakout sessions where you’ll be able to mingle, network, and grab your share of cool marketing swag.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the ins and outs of B2B marketing and learn how smart marketers build and spread their ideas. At Funnel, you’ll see how to use all the latest trends in content marketing, data and analytics, and social to generate revenue you didn’t think was possible. Afterward, you'll be ready to lead the charge in all forms of B2B marketing!
Chicago, May 2
UserConf is a one-day conference with a mission: teaching you how to make your customers happy. All the discussion is geared toward how to win over customers and keep them coming back for more. Hear about what amazing customer support is, how to manage your community, and what you need to do to excel at everything customer-facing.
New York, October 22-23
Do you want to learn how top corporate companies launched successful media strategies? Hear from speakers’ real-life experiences to find out how you can market your business in a cutthroat market. You’ll also learn how to train your team and scale high-quality customer service.
New York, March 27-28
The Customer Experience Conference teaches you how to make your customers fall in love with their experiences. Don’t delay—it was sold out last year—and you don't want to miss out on this chance to see why technology is transforming customer experience and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.
22. CX Impact
New Orleans, May 19-21
Do you know what it takes to take your customer experience strategy to the next level? CX Impact invites senior-level executives to share how they’ve crafted their techniques and what pitfalls you need to watch out for in marketing, branding, online customer strategy, e-commerce, and more.
San Francisco, May 14
How should you find the right co-founder, get media attention, pitch investors, and launch a product in the early days? Join 2,000 entrepreneurs at The Startup Conference to find out! It’s one of the largest tech conferences in Silicon Valley, so you’ll get to meet lots of cool startups and their founders, and even promote your own startup for a chance to be featured on CNET.
Dublin, June 11-14
The three-day World Conference on Entrepreneurship has some incredible speakers, social events, and student activities lined up, all revolving around how you can create an environmental and socially sustainable business. You’ll hear keynote speakers, participate in panel sessions, and network with other fantastic entrepreneurs from around the world.
25. Grow Conference
Nashville, May 20-22
Do you have dreams of changing the world? Meet other bold innovators, thinkers, and entrepreneurs at the Grow Conference, where you’ll problem solve real-time during panels and deep-dive workshops. Leave inspired with new connections and endless creative solutions that will grow your venture.
Montreal, July 9-12
This year, the International Startup Festival's theme is “the City,” and you'll get an inside look at how startups and cities interact. You'll hear inspiring stories, dive into interactive sessions, and work with a community of go-getters. The best part? The festival is far from your typical conference—events are held in hangouts, tents, food truck lines, and more!
Providence, RI, September 17-18
Do you feel particularly inspired by memorable stories? The Business Innovation Factory might be your match—hear over 30 storytellers and 400 innovators talk about their experiences disrupting business as you know it. Be blown away by the design thinkers and storytellers who have transformed the world through business model innovation.
Sausalito, CA, April 14-15
The VentureBeat Summit is one of the coolest mobile events showcasing the most exciting developments in mobile. It’s application-only, but if you’re interested in growth prediction for companies, how wearable tech will transform the mobile economy, and other mobile trends, it’s definitely worth giving it a shot!
San Diego, April 22-24
Are you looking to hire the best talent? If so, the ERE Recruiting Conference may be for you. Join in on workshops and sessions that discuss all the challenges you face every day, and meet fellow recruiters to talk shop during these two days of networking and sharing.
Atlanta, May 28-29
This summit will teach you how to build a high-performance team in no time! HR leaders from IBM, University of Chicago, Mastercard, Hilton, and more will be there, so you’ll be learning from the best how to attract talent, build teams, and create a truly effective workforce.
31. HRO Forum
Philadelphia, May 5-7
Everyone talks about building a flexible, talented, and engaged team, but how exactly do you do this? Bring your entire team to the HRO Forum to hear speakers from MGM Resorts, American Airlines, and other global firms talk about how to make your HR services more effective.
Media, Publishing, Blogging, and Writing
Chicago, June 15-18
Join the Adobe InDesign team and other InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, DPS, ePub, and PDF gurus for the annual PePcon. Sessions cover everything from how to best deliver content to CSS/HTML boot camps. You’ll walk away an expert in everything related to publishing and design!
San Jose, July 24-26
Do you consider yourself an active member of the blogosphere? Don’t pass up this chance to collaborate with a community of writers and blog affiliates creating opportunities for women in education, community, and economic empowerment. BlogHer is open to all levels of bloggers, and, after endless opportunities to network, you’ll be well on your way to building the future of blogging.
College Park, MD, April 4-5
If you’re a journalist or educator, or just looking to sharpen your storytelling skills or learn more about entrepreneurship, mobile, and data, Journalism Interactive is for you. The interactive workshops create a real community that encourages hands-on training—meaning you’ll be oh-so well-versed in the frontiers of digital journalism by the end of this two-day event.
San Francisco, June 26-29
Looking to broaden your journalism and investigative skills? Come hear industry leaders speak in over 100 panels, interactive classes, and discussions on everything under the sun (but primarily in government, business, healthcare, and the environment). You’ll be able to cover any story on any topic in the future, guaranteed.
10 cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and more) from March-November
Who wouldn’t want to make your writing more focused, dynamic, and fun? This intensive workshop teaches you exactly that. Whether your writing is for your business or a blog, you’ll learn how to improve through Alexandra Franzen's own tricks and tips—and make plenty of new writer friends along the way.
Multiple cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver, Berlin, and more) from May-December
Taught by three high-profile bloggers, this two-day blogging workshop takes you step by step to brand, monetize, and personalize your blog. You'll not only learn how to create amazing content, but also how to secure book deals, magazine columns, or any other publishing agreement you could imagine. You’ll be well on your way to being a next-generation blogger!
London, April 7-9
Interested in the future trends of web design? From front-end engineers to enthusiastic web developers, all are welcome to participate in workshops and design clinics to introduce you to the cutting-edge of online and visual design.
39. Lean UX
New York, April 10-12
Forty speakers, 25 workshops, four days. Lean UX is the ultimate place to get hands-on experience in everything product design, customer delivery, and process design. You'll hone your skills with entrepreneurs, developers, and product managers, learning everything from how to balance teams, incorporate complexity in design thinking, use analytics, and much more.
40. Converge SE
Columbia, SC, May 1-3
Looking to be fascinated and inspired by the future of design? Converge is bringing together people who work with technology in the most creative ways in this three-day immersive workshop experience. You’ll work with everything design, UX, game design, business, and marketing-related and hear from some awesome keynote speakers—not to mention enjoy the delicious food, drink, and parties afterward.
41. HOW Design Live
Boston, May 12-16
Does a five-day extravaganza in print and web design, package design, thought leadership, creative team management, and small business management sound exciting to you? Don’t miss out on this chance to meet innovative thinkers and become a part of an amazing community of designers and freelancers who will define the future of design.
New York, June 20
Web designers and developers will love this action-packed inaugural Generate New York conference hosted by net magazine, the leading print and digital publication for web designers. What could be better than a bunch of web design enthusiasts gathering together to spark new ideas, insights, and experience-sharing stories?
43. IA Summit
San Diego, March 26-30
Passionate about user experience? The IA Summit is a must-attend to get your fix of everything user design, information architecture, and content strategy. Completely community-driven, this event brings you incredible keynote speakers and workshops on user experience to help you share what you know and learn what you don’t.
Boston, May 2-3
Passionate about sustainability and global environmental challenges? Explore the interaction of sustainability and cities at the annual MIT Sustainability Summit with this year’s theme of Coastal Cities & Sustainable Futures. Leaders in government, finance, technology, and climate change will provide an overview of future trends so you can participate in role play simulations, workshops, and more.
45. Ceres Conference
Boston, April 30-May 1
Hear from over 600 sustainability leaders on how they’ve worked to build a sustainable global economy. All in the name of building the next generation of sustainable businesses, the Ceres Conference brings all discussions about corporate sustainability, sustainable agriculture, and climate resiliency under one roof.
Rio de Janeiro, April 24-25 | Istanbul, May 28-30 | San Diego, June 2-5 | London, November 3-5
Get inspired by the annual Sustainable Brands conferences that use environmental and social innovation to drive business and brands. You’ll leave this three-day conference with a completely different idea of what's possible for socially responsible business.
Los Angeles, June 1-2
Looking for an immersive, hands-on experience that will teach you everything fashion PR-related? Look no further—all levels of experience are welcome at Fashion Confidential, and not only will you receive pitch guidance, but you'll also participate in 18+ hours of lectures and activities on fashion PR campaign strategy, speed networking, one-on-one reviews, and much more.
48. ASCAP Expo
Los Angeles, April 24-26
Whether you’re a songwriter, composer, or producer, the ASCAP Expo has a place for you! The annual expo builds a community from the most successful music creators today that you can’t afford to miss. For three full days, learn from, network with, and be inspired by some of the most promising music professionals. All those celebrity Q&As, career building workshops, DIY sessions, performances, demos, and more will be right up your alley.
San Francisco, May 28
Fascinated by the intersection of music, business, and technology? The Musictech Summit may be for you! Participate in the Innovator's Challenge to find the most promising music-tech startup, listen to inspiring speakers, and connect with some incredible industry visionaries.
50. SEAT Consortium
Miami, July 20-22
Get ready for this exclusive three-day event covering everything in sports, including marketing, social media, CRM, technology, and more. Whether you’re representing the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, or almost any other sport, you’ll truly get an experience of collaboration, innovation, strategy, and everything in between—not to mention a fantastic network of the most connected sports professionals.
Photo of microphone courtesy of Shutterstock.
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