Are networking events and conferences key for growth in start-ups?
Networking events and global conferences are big business and many of these events welcome multiple industries at once, but what role do they play for SMEs and start-ups?
For start-ups that have been in business for over a year, large conferences are the perfect platform to position their brand with industry leaders. It can be excellent for promoting a business, contacting new suppliers, gaining new clients, building strong business relationships, or developing partnerships.
One such event is the Web Summit, where the world's major tech companies and SMEs descend on Lisbon, Portugal. The event has a strong focus on SMEs and has a programme that showcases the start-ups disrupting their industries and introduces them to leading investors from across the globe, companies and media.
Other events are hyper-focused on a niche within an industry. Naturally, these are often smaller but remain a calendar highlight for companies. GIANT (Global Innovation and New Technology) Health Event is focused on tech innovation within the healthcare sector. The London-based event aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people worldwide by facilitating healthcare innovation and supporting health-tech entrepreneurs and investors.
These smaller events offer early-stage start-ups the opportunity to enter a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Georgia O'Neil, Managing Director of Desert Dog Marketing, says "people at these events are very helpful and willing to support each other out where possible".
What networking events are available in Dubai?
Dubai offers a dynamic range of business networking events in the Middle East. The World Trade Centre is a hub for many of these events with its exhibition halls welcoming over 3 million people from 185 countries each year. Some of the bigger events including Gitex, Gulfood and Arab Health are the big draws on the convention calendar.
Dr Sarper Tanli, Founder and CEO of Diginova, told Euronews that attending events like Arab Health gives start-ups, like his company, the opportunity to network face-to-face with international companies in the health industry. "Events like this allow start-ups to be present so that they can talk to the large group of investors or distributors," he said.
Early-stage start-up events
Smaller business networking events are hosted each night of the year in Dubai, which are best suited for early-stage start-ups. The format and size of these events can be pretty diverse. There’s a regular speed networking event that takes its format from speed dating where a large group of entrepreneurs will sit at tables in groups of two. After exchanging business cards, they have exactly three minutes to network before moving to the next table and entrepreneur.
Another event run by B2B networking company, Tablon, allows entrepreneurs to build connections whilst learning from other business owners. At this event, business owners will share with the group the challenges they are having or the resources they require.
A regular attendee of the event is Vida Moradi, Founder and CEO of Volonté Business Management. She said, "I find that having knowledge in the job is one thing, but having connections, meeting people and having the network around you is much more important because that's what actually helps you build your business."