While small business owners might feel they can't afford to take time away from their day-to-day tasks to attend a conference, there are some benefits to getting out of the office for a few days.
Alon Alroy, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Bizzabo, which offers a networking and mobile platform for event organizers and attendees, believes that attending conferences provides entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet the right venture capital firms, explore possible partnerships and network with industry insiders.
As long as they do their homework beforehand, Alroy said conferences can provide an immense amount of value for entrepreneurs and startups.
"If you take the time to figure out who's coming, who you want (and need) to meet, as well as what the most important content of the conference is for you, there is a great deal to be gained," Alroy told Business News Daily. "Conferences can be a door opener -- a great impression and the right connection can mean the difference between propelling forward or fading into obscurity."
However, with more than 3,000 conferences held each year, finding the ones that have the most to offer can be difficult for small business owners. To help entrepreneurs, Alroy lists his top U.S. tech conferences every startup and small business should consider attending this year:
- FutureStack: Hosted by NewRelic and held for the first time in 2013, the conference brings together developers, tinkerers, futurists and creatives to hack, debate and build the software of tomorrow. A date has not yet been scheduled for this year's conference.
- Launch Festival: Scheduled for February 24-26 in San Francisco, the conference covers and celebrates technology startups, products and services.
- GigaOM Structure: Scheduled for June 18 and 19 in San Francisco, the conference offers the chance to meet and hear from the innovators and thinkers who are building infrastructure to run the applications of the next decade.
- Techweek: Techweek brings together a mixture of entrepreneurs, visionaries and thought leaders for a week-long celebration of all things tech. The conference is being held several times in 2014. Host cities this year are Miami, Detroit, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
- DEMO: Scheduled for April 3 in San Francisco, the conference, produced by IDG, focuses on emerging technologies and new product innovations.
- Google I/O: Google I/O brings together thousands of developers for two days of deep technical content, focused on building the next generation of Web, mobile and enterprise applications with Google and open Web technologies. Usually held in May, dates for this year's conference have not yet been set.
- VentureBeat Mobile Summit: Top executives from the mobile industry gather to meet and debate how to accelerate adoption, engagement and monetization via the six biggest growth opportunities in mobile today: predictive apps, advances in mobile ad tech, mobile analytics tools, designing "work-life balance" in mobile apps, mobile-driven retail markets and wearables. The event is scheduled for April 14 and 15 in Sausalito, Calif.
- Social Media Marketing World: Presented by Social Media Examiner, the conference is designed to give attendees the chance to meet some of the biggest names and brands in social media, get tips and strategies, and enjoy extensive networking opportunities. This year's conference will be held March 26-28 in San Diego.
- TechCrunch Disrupt NYC: The conference features panels of special speakers, TechCrunch writers and editors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs addressing the most important topics facing today's tech landscape. This year's conference will be held May 5-7 in New York City.
- Velocity: The Velocity Conference provides attendees with real-world best practices for optimizing their website's pages, while also giving them the opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry leaders who are taking Web performance and operations to the next level. This year's conference will be held June 24-26 in Santa Clara, Calif.
- Innovation Uncensored NY: Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored is designed for anyone with a mind for modern business. The event features executives, inventors, strategists, designers, marketers, visionaries and creatives offering inspiration, insights and ideas on how to turn any business into an innovation machine. The event will be held April 10 in New York City.
- InfusionCon: The conference provides small business owners withideas, strategies and insights to grow their business. The conference is scheduled for April 23-25 in Phoenix, Ariz.
- South By Southwest™ Interactive: The event features five days of presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology, a number of networking events hosted by industry leaders and a lineup of programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. This year's event will be held in Austin, Texas, between March 7 and 11.
- Small Business Web Summit: This two-day conference is designed for cloud companies that sell their services to small businesses. The event, scheduled for Feb. 20 and 21, is a way for industry leaders to connect and share what they're working on and struggling with.
- The DataDriven Business Conference: The event is designed to show business owners how they can drive their operations using data analytics. The conference is scheduled for March 16-21 in San Francisco.
- Inside BitCoins NYC: The conference offers the latest intelligence for those interested in learning more about the digital currency Bitcoin. The event is scheduled for April 7 and 8 in New York City.
Alroy said the conferences on this list are particularly catered to the entrepreneurial-minded and the startup crowd.
"This means an ideal balance between quality content geared towards starting and running a company and the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs, investors and the like," he said. "The organizers of these events understand the fast-paced lifestyle many entrepreneurs are living, so they make these conferences ripe with opportunities for startups to make that next business connection that could change their future."
Originally published on Business News Daily.