By: Ilissa Miller, CEO, iMiller Public Relations

Ilissa MillerOK, so I won’t go into the bad and ugly, but will provide a lot of insight on the good.  People ask me all the time, what telecom and Internet-related industry events should I go to?  My response is typically, what do you want to accomplish?  A great conference or event can open up new opportunities that you weren’t even aware of, while the worst events can provide you with a platform to gain the credibility you need and deserve.

A key trait of really good events is that they showcase avenues of the industry we have not yet had the opportunity to realize ourselves.  When you attend, gain knowledge and relationships you wouldn’t have attained on your own, and leave feeling invigorated and excited – that is the mark of a great event.  While not all events are good (or bad), even those that aren’t so great can be leveraged to help you gain the notoriety you deserve.  Ever look at the agenda for an event and see hundreds of people who will be presenting (and they’re not all that elite)?  That is your chance to secure a spot on the agenda and gain some notoriety for both your name and company.  Many of those conferences offer what the industry refers to as ‘pay to play’ opportunities that require you to pay a sponsorship fee to participate as a speaker.  I don’t consider these the optimal events, however, if you want to beef up your speaking chops and gain credibility in the market, this is a good way to invest in earning your mark on industry agendas that truly seek credible speakers.

What Do You Want to Accomplish and Whom Do You Want to Meet?

The next question, after we identify what you want to accomplish, is who do you want to meet with and why?  Most companies attend industry events for the sole purpose of developing new business and ensuring ongoing relationships are tended to effectively.  However, there are other reasons you should look to attend events including: education, trend watching, information gathering, analyst and/or media briefings, and speaking/presenting – just to name a few.

Once you understand what you want to accomplish from attending an event, you are better equipped to evaluate what makes an event good to attend or not.  HINT: Your sole purpose for attending an event isn’t (or shouldn’t be) business development; it’s all of the above.  These same principals apply to evaluating whether to sponsor or exhibit at an event.  These have more of an emphasis on business development opportunities than others for the sole reason that it costs more to exhibit and sponsor, and therefore the need to justify costs and evaluate the return on investment (ROI) is greater.

(full disclosure alert before you read on)

Before you read on for the industry events I most recommend, I must give a full disclosure alert.  I do work closely with some of the industry’s leading events to help in various capacities including raising awareness, driving registration, sponsorship relations, press room management and more.  The fact is that it is an honor to represent and work with some of the leading industry associations and event organizers – it gives me an appreciation for how hard they work to make these events so successful while also understanding the nuances of how and why each has become a leader in their own right.  Not all of the events or conferences I am about to mention are ones that I work with.

The Absolute Must-Attend Industry Events

International Telecoms Week (ITW)

This is the #1, largest, global wholesale event in the world, period.  It happens once a year and companies spend almost a half a year planning for it.  With more than 6,000 attendees from all over the world, ITW provides a true opportunity to connect with the industry’s key international players.  Many companies don’t have a presence in the U.S. (the event takes place in Chicago, IL), but for international voice and data traffic, the United States plays a truly central role.  Most traffic, whether it’s Internet-related or not, traverses the U.S. at some point, typically via New York where major trans-Atlantic submarine cables land.

ITW is the event that you can leverage to get branding recognition, visibility and accessibility to companies that you didn’t know about – and equally as important – who didn’t know about you.  Everyone at ITW is searching for the unknown, the hidden gems, the opportunities they didn’t know about, and the hottest trends shaping the globe.  This is where ‘the wave’ takes off.  You know, when you’re at the stadium and a group of people jump up out of their seats and expect the next section to follow suit?  After ITW, this ‘wave’ gets spread across the entire industry, from North America, to Africa, to LATAM, to EMEA, to APAC, and beyond.  If you know what you want to achieve at ITW, you can do it, you just have to set out to plan effectively and execute to deliver on that plan.  If you do so successfully, you’ll come back from the conference with so much more than you expected.

Before ITW, there was GTM (the Global Telecom Meeting).  I don’t need to bore you with the details, but I want to stress that this event has deep roots and the ITW team ensures that its legacy continues to give back to the industry.  (Full disclosure: iMiller Public Relations (iMPR) will be managing the first ITW Press Room in the event’s history.  This has never been done before, nor has iMPR ever sponsored an event except ITW’s C100 report – which it does so annually).

Tune in to TelecomNewsroom next week to discover more of my must-attend industry events.