7 Conferences That Will Level Up Your A-Game

These events do more than just motivate and inspire.

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By Adam Toren


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While local incubators, clubs, and luncheons are fantastic places to network and flex your entrepreneurial muscle, professionals from virtually any industry can benefit from attending an annual conference. Events like these not only provide a spot for visitors to make valuable connections and share their own ventures, but they also host keynote presentations, demonstrations, and workshops to help attendees develop a variety of skills. No matter where you are, there's bound to be a conference you can make it to—check out any of these seven events to see if they match with your niche (and your busy schedule).


Infusionsoft is more than just an Arizona-based email marketing and sales platform for small businesses. For the past nine years, the company has hosted ICON, an inspiring entrepreneurial conference that draws in like-minded attendees from all over the world. ICON fills its three days to the brim with several engaging keynotes, over fifty educational demonstrations and workshops, and interactive contests for attending entrepreneurs. Guests who already integrate Infusionsoft into their marketing strategies can expand their lead capture and customer relations tactics by bouncing ideas off of other visitors or participating in Infusionsoft-specific demonstrations. ICON also provides attendees with optimization techniques custom-fit for their startups; guests receive individualized "frank evaluations" of their marketing strategies, as well as action plans regarding how to invest in a way that boosts sales. As ICON was founded by Infusionsoft CEO Clate Mask, an award-winning entrepreneurial author and major small business success, this is an event no small business owner will want to miss.

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2. Next Gen Summit.

The annual Next Gen Summit in New York City is based on the idea that young entrepreneurs not only need to learn timeless tools of the trade, but also keep up with modern business trends to give their companies a competitive edge. Run by 19-year-old Justin Lafazan and his 20-year-old business partner Dylan Gambardella, this event is tailored for entrepreneurs under thirty—and the Next Gen Summit ensures every speaker is familiar with young entrepreneurship, too. Attendees have the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions, view panel discussions led by inventors, entrepreneurs, and politicians, and even give "Shark Tank' style pitches to investors who scope out the event. At ten times the size of last year's event, the Next Gen Summit is the perfect place to start for young entrepreneurs who take small business and innovation seriously.

Related: 5 Secrets to Creating a Successful Mastermind Event

3. T&C Summit.

The yearly Traffic & Conversion Summit in San Diego is North America's largest conversion conference. Why? Its founder, Ryan Deiss, built the T&C Summit into a no-nonsense, actionable conference that only presents information that entrepreneurs can "plug and play" into their own marketing plans. Unlike many other events of its kind, the T&C Summit doesn't allow for content that only serves to uplift and inspire; instead, attendees and keynoters alike are expected to "get their hands dirty" and practice the information they learn with open minds and eager attitudes. Visitors can expect to learn valuable YouTube marketing hacks, Facebook neuro-targeting tips, new approaches to SEO, and more. Those who take interest in the T&C Summit can choose to attend in person or via the Internet through a comprehensive livestream.

4. Funnel Hacking LIVE.

Founded and managed by ClickFunnels, Funnel Hacking LIVE is an annual event for entrepreneurs who want to take their marketing and sales strategies to the next level. Funnel Hacking LIVE prides itself on focusing on one main topic: how to scale any business, whether it's a struggling startup or a towering success that rakes in over seven figures a year. Like the T&C Summit, this event rids of inspiring, motivational speeches in favor of those that will directly teach attendees to leverage their expertise using the "funnel hacking process," which is the base of ClickFunnels' mission. Guests can expect to hear from a number of highly sought-after keynoters, like Sean Stephenson, Garrett White, and even Marcus Lemonis of CNBC's "The Profit.' Thanks to the concentrated nature of Funnel Hacking LIVE's educational presentations, past visitors have proclaimed that the cost of attendance was practically returned within the first ten minutes of the event.

5. Collision.

As America's fastest-growing tech conference with attendees from over fifty countries, Collision covers a range of topics and hosts presentations from startup entrepreneurs, CEOs from the world's leading companies, investors, and media experts. This year's event, which takes place in New Orleans, features executives from Slack, General Electric, WordPress, The Onion, Trello, CNBC, and more. Attendees have the opportunity to participate in a variety of "tracks," which cover everything from marketing and social media to fintech and the Internet of Things. What's especially cool about Collision? Because it welcomes such an extensive assortment of attendees and keynoters, every visitor is guaranteed to learn something both new and exciting—regardless of what industry they're a part of.

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6. Social Media Marketing World.

Social Media Marketing World is the largest social media marketing event on the planet. Located in sunny San Diego, SMMW is great for those who are looking to perfect their businesses' social media marketing strategies and network with entrepreneurs within their niche—and with scheduled networking breaks between keynotes and workshops, attendees don't have to miss out on content to build valuable connections. Speakers and workshop leaders for this year's event include those from IBM, OtterBox, Adobe, Google, BMW, and countless others. SMMW is also the only business-related conference that hosts Networking Power Walks (and runs), where attendees don their comfiest clothes and go for energizing walks while they brainstorm and socialize. If you're unable to make it to this event, consider buying a "virtual ticket" for twelve-month online access to all of the event's keynotes and workshop materials.

7. World Domination Summit.

Want to take over the world (or at least take it on)? If so, the Portland World Domination Summit may be for you. Based on the question, "How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?" this event aims to build a foundation on which attendees can pursue their dreams and positively impact their communities. The World Domination Summit is a little more interactive than most other conferences of its kind; aside from holding networking events and motivational keynotes, the summit also hosts attendee-powered meetups, a Guinness World Record attempt, two huge parties, tons of immersive workshops (called "Academies"), and a city-wide scavenger hunt to get you moving. This year's conference even plans on hosting art walks, an optional 5k Fun Run, and other mini-events throughout the city. The greatest part? While the World Domination Summit is frequented by entrepreneurs, attendees from all walks of life are welcome, so long as they're striving to change the world. If you can't make it to the main conference, try participating in just one of the World Domination Summit's mini-events—you can buy tickets for individual gatherings and workshops as the summit comes closer.

Attending an entrepreneurial or motivational conference will not only add a few skillful tricks to your small business toolbox—it will also provide you with an unforgettable and transformative experience you'll be able to look back on forever. What is your favorite conference-based memory? Which events have transformed you (or your business) the most?

Adam Toren

Serial entrepreneur, mentor, advisor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com

Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Phoenix, Ariz.

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