Conferences attract plenty of people who are doing the same thing, and once you accept that, you’ll probably discover that going to events for entrepreneurs is one of the most helpful things you can do for your business.

by John Hall, CEO and co-founder, Influence & Co.@johnhall

I remember my first conference well. It was like I was the new kid in school, except no one introduced me or showed me around. I felt kind of like a loner and was pretty intimidated by so many other entrepreneurs and leaders who seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

As an entrepreneur, conferences can be hard. You really just have to put yourself out there and be willing to strike up conversations with just about anyone. But what you’ll realize, like I did, is that you aren’t alone. Conferences attract plenty of people who are doing the same thing, and once you accept that, you’ll probably discover that going to events for entrepreneurs is one of the most helpful things you can do for your business.

These kinds of events help you find the leaders in your industry, share insight into industry trends, and arm you with the tools and knowledge you need to lead a fast-growing business. So whether you’re looking for your first conference or you’re a little more experienced, these events for entrepreneurs should be on your radar this year:

1. YEC Escape to Powder Mountain, Feb. 3-6 in Eden, Utah

This conference is valuable for sharing ideas and solving problems alongside other young entrepreneurs, but that’s not all it has to offer. There are plenty of fun activities, as well as time to decompress and focus on wellness. Think of it as a retreat that’ll leave you with some valuable business lessons and connections. And, sure, this is during Super Bowl weekend, but I can’t imagine a more amazing backdrop for watching the game.

2. SaaStr Annual 2017, Feb. 7-9 in San Francisco

If you’re in the SaaS industry, the SaaStr Annual conference is a must-attend event. More than 85 percent of attendees are director-level or higher, and the content of the conference — with a focus on founder-centric issues, growth strategy, execution, and management — reflects that. The event covers a variety of functional areas like sales, marketing, operations, customer success, product, and even a funding stage when SaaStr flips the table and makes VCs pitch you.

3. Startup Grind Global Conference, Feb. 21-22 in Silicon Valley

The Startup Grind Global Conference, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, is the event for all things startup and Silicon Valley. This year’s event features speakers from WhatsApp, Oracle, Giphy, Tinder, Kissmetrics, Y Combinator, and dozens more. With 3,000 founders and investors, more than 40 keynote and fireside sessions, and more than 50 exhibiting startups, attendees will definitely walk away with valuable insights for their own startups.

4. The Montgomery Summit, March 8-9 in Santa Monica, California

Hosting a global community of creative and impressive thinkers, the Montgomery Summit is an invite-only event focused on discovery around business innovations and tech. This year, it’ll have more than 145 private company presentations, insider panels, and one-on-one meetings, and attendees will have the opportunity to mingle and network with more than 1,000 leaders in the industry.

5. ICON, April 25-27 in Phoenix

ICON is all about small business. Instead of following the curriculum of what might be a more traditional conference, ICON places emphasis on building a community among attendees. Three days are dedicated to setting goals, understanding the art of launching campaigns, and putting ideas into action. The event this year includes more than 50 sessions, and 4,000 entrepreneurs, experts, and other industry professionals will be in attendance.

6. GrowCo, May 8-10 in New Orleans

If you’re ready to start growing your business, this conference is perfect. Curated by Inc., it’s driven by proven strategies and business advice from others who have been in your shoes and have grown their businesses successfully.

7. Inc. 5000 Conference & Gala, Oct. 10-12 in Palm Desert, California

After my company earned No. 239 on the Inc. 500 last year, a few of my team members and I attended this event, and it was really valuable. This conference attracts leaders of the fastest-growing companies to share their stories and network with one another. The three-day event is filled with sessions and opportunities to mingle that follow a unique curriculum, making this conference especially beneficial for entrepreneurs.

8. FinCon, Oct. 25-28 in Dallas

Any business leader will tell you that finances are a huge focus, and for entrepreneurs who are working toward launching their businesses, that focus is even stronger. This conference is the largest financial content conference, so it’s great for entrepreneurs who are looking to learn more about personal finance, deals, investing, and how their content plays a part in it all. Merging money and media, FinCon is where entrepreneurs go to learn how their online money-related content can help generate a healthy profit.

9. CEO Space, March 13-17 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida

This business growth accelerator conference boasts the world’s central impetus for cooperative capitalism. It speaks to entrepreneurs of all ages, including teenagers, andincludes sessions on strategic planning sequencing, legal, marketing, tax, social media, branding, and sales. The organization includes advocates for crowdfunding and provides high-level mentorship for participating members. The event is known for assisting entrepreneurs with traditional funding as well.

10. Next Gen Summit
This event for Millennial entrepreneurs premiered in 2015. With the help of corporate partners like Uber and Verizon, the Next Gen Summit’s inaugural event helped startups raise more than $1 million, produced dozens of partnerships, and addressed an estimated 17,000 in-person and live-stream attendees. Run by a team “that can’t legally drink,” the program is headed by Justin Lafazan, 19, and Dylan Gambardella, also 19. This year’s conference dates haven’t been posted yet.

11. World Domination Summit, July 11-17 in Portland, Oregon

If you’re the kind of entrepreneur who’s looking for inspiration and a growth mindset instead of tactics and tools to implement, this conference is the one for you. World Domination Summit’s speaker lineup is full of people who have overcome huge roadblocks to reach their goals.

12. ONTRApalooza, Oct. 4-6 in Santa Barbara, California

I’ve worked with ONTRAport in the past and had the pleasure of speaking at this event last year, so I know firsthand how much ONTRApalooza cares about bringing together a community of small business owners, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, marketers, and industry experts. For three days, attendees collaborate and learn various innovative and inspiring business strategies. ONTRApalooza offers 12 workshops, 24 software sessions, and 12 main-stage talks.

13. Forbes 30 Under 30 in Boston

This is always an anticipated event, but it’s especially so for those who make the list. My co-founder earned a place last year in the Marketing & Advertising category, and Forbes seems to be committed to growing its Under 30 community. This year’s summit dates haven’t been posted yet.

Being an entrepreneur is as rewarding as it is challenging, and it’s these kinds of events that make the journey a little easier. Did I miss any conferences that you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to check them out.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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