My takeaways from Web Summit 2023: The before, during and after
Web Summit (WS) 2023 has been and gone recently. There was a lot of controversy around it, with some speculating that it wouldn’t go ahead at one point. However, it did and I was there for the first time and flying solo. As such, I had what could be called a baptism of fire. I had to learn the following lessons quickly!
Before Web Summit
Before heading over, preparation is key. Like any cookbook will tell you the more you prepare the night before the easier it is, the same is true for Web Summit. Booking things well in advance makes life a lot easier, so make sure you’ve got your plane tickets, hotel and of course all web summit-related registration done ASAP.
But equally important is setting up meetings beforehand. While it is possible to make connections with random people at their stands, this is not a tactic to rely upon. My advice is to download the Web Summit app and get networking. Try to establish a list of 20-30 meetings you KNOW you’re going to have with people who will be responsive to what you have to say.
Pro tip: getting contacts emails and WhatsApp numbers can make life easier as the app isn’t always the best way of staying in contact during the event.
During Web Summit
Web Summit is a big event, it was around 70,000 people this year – and that’s after a fair amount dropped out. The venue length is nearly 1 km, while walking over the two and half days I was there my fitness tracker said I walked around 30 km. So, wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated. Organise your meetings around one area if you can.
Space is at a premium at Web Summit so if you have access to a lounge or have spotted a handy, quiet area to have a meeting then make the best use of it. Lines for getting through security weren’t too bad this year but next year who knows so get there nice and early. Speaking of lines, the queues for the food vendors can be quite long so be strategic with your breaks and if you’ve offered to buy a contact a coffee grab one to go before you meet them.
Pro tip: bring a portable phone charger and cable. There are charging stations there but given that you’ll be using your phone constantly it’s best to be able to charge it on the go.
A note about the Night events – most people I spoke to said that these were the best places to meet new people and network as it was less hectic and more laid back, and I’d fully agree with this. However, all Web Summit Night events filled up within an hour of doors opening so definitely aim to be their early doors.
After Web Summit
You’re back and you’re tired, but there’s still work to do! You need to capitalise on those contacts and leads you’ve made. Here ar some tips on what to do and what not do:
- Do send a follow-up email, it’s good practice to find something that will remind them who you are and the conversations you had. Did you make a joke or observation that they found amusing or interesting, remind them of that to jog their memory.
- Don’t send a cold email pretending that you had a meeting with them when you didn’t. I’ve had a couple of these since Web Summit. People saying was great to meet me when they didn’t and even calling me a different name at the beginning of the email. This tactic is annoying, dishonest and unprofessional. You’ll cost yourself potential connections and damage your reputation.
- Do still make contact with people you didn’t meet but didn’t manage to – jump back on the app and send messages. ‘Sorry we didn’t get to meet up at Web Summit this year, I’m sure you were as busy as I was, shall we do a call to talk about X on Y day’.
Pro tip: it’s good practice to wait a couple of days after Web Summit before sending follow-up emails as people will be tired and trying to catch up on their contacts the first couple of days they’re back at the office.
Web Summit really is a resource that you can mine for weeks after you’re back from the physical event. Your approach before, during, and after makes all the difference as to whether Web Summit is a useful business opportunity for you, or just a lot of walking around Lisbon!