asu + gsv summit

7 Secrets for Success at the ASU + GSV Summit

One of the best ways for startups to boost brand recognition and meet potential funding partners is to attend in-person networking events, especially those geared toward your specific industry.

For Founders specializing in EdTech, the ASU + GSV Summit is a can’t-miss opportunity for human-centered connections and actionable insights.

Hosted every April in San Diego, California, ASU + GSV boasts a 14-year pedigree featuring world-class speakers like Former President Barack Obama, Kahoot! CEO Eilert Hanoa, and MIT Dean/Professor Cynthia Breazeal.

But, given the impressive scope of the event, it can be easy for first-time attendees to get lost in the mix.

Here’s a few tips to help you navigate the summit like a pro: 

1. Network Ahead of Time

If you wait until the first day of the conference to reach out to people you intend to meet with, there’s a good chance their schedule might already be booked.

Before you even step foot in San Diego, research your fellow attendees through the networking platform and determine who’s a priority. Once you have your short list, send each person a quick note, email, or LinkedIn message and make specific plans to meet in-person during the summit.

When crafting your pitch, don’t just explain why you want to meet with them, explain why they might want to meet with you as well.

While four days might sound like a lot of time in theory, in practice, everyone’s schedules are going to be tight, so if you can establish a mutual benefit to the meeting, you’re more likely to be a priority on other people’s agendas. 

2. Plan Your Own Events

While there’s certainly no shortage of happy hours and other pre-planned activities at ASU + GSV, one way to help set yourself apart is to schedule your own mini events.

It can be something as informal and simple as a quick walk around the block, or maybe an impromptu coffee circle in the lobby of the hotel. Just make sure to be specific about what types of people or companies you are looking to network with (e.g. CEOs of fellow post-revenue EdTech companies).

Whatever strategy you choose to take, organizing your own networking opportunities can be a great way to meet up with several different prospects at once, or even introduce yourself to new people who you didn’t have the chance to schedule ahead with.

3. Attend the Right Sessions

This might seem like an obvious point, but with the litany of potential speakers and panels available at ASU + GSV, it can be easy to get caught up trying to see everything. 

Similar to the first tip, before you arrive at the summit, take some time to review the agenda and determine which events are most likely to be attended by people who are relevant to your business.

For example, if your company targets higher education, attending a panel that focuses on innovations in K-12 schools is less likely to produce valuable connections than a panel about AI in the college classroom.

Be purposeful with your time. Instead of racing around from panel to panel, instead ask yourself: “Which session is going to be the most valuable for me?” 

4. Share Your ASU + GSV Experience

Think about the last vacation you went on. If you traveled to Paris, there’s a good chance you posted a picture of the Eifel Tower. If you were in New York, maybe it was the Statue of Liberty.

Well, now you’re going to be at ASU + GSV, so why not post about that, too?

If you come across a panel that strikes you, write a quick recap and tag the speakers in a LinkedIn post. If somebody gives you a piece of advice that resonates, share it with your followers and see if it resonates with them, too.

In addition to building your digital brand, turning your experience at the summit into content gives you increased visibility that can lead to unexpected networking experiences.

In other words, even if you don’t have the opportunity connect with somebody in person, they might still see your post after the fact and decide to follow up with you, or vice versa.

Being active on social media before and after the summit increases the half-life of the event and gives you the chance to capitalize on otherwise missed connections. 

5. Don’t Over Plan

As we’ve established so far, planning ahead is important. But at the same time, it’s equally important to leave space for spontaneous experiences, too.

Don’t over-book yourself and schedule meetings all day, every day. Make sure you leave some time to explore ASU + GSV and soak in everything it has to offer.

Not only will this open the door for a bit of serendipity, but it’ll also keep you from exhausting your social battery and burning yourself out before the summit is over. 

Remember, events like these are a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t be afraid to step away for a quick power nap or snack break. Whatever it takes to keep you sharp the full four days!

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

While large events can feel intimidating at times, it’s important to remember that everybody is there for the same reason as you: to meet new people.

So, be confident, be outgoing, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Say for example you heard about an interesting happy hour later, but you’re not quite sure where it’s located, or when to show up. Ask around, shake some hands, and see where it gets you.

Who knows, you could end up meeting a new friend, or even a new business partner. That’s the great thing about ASU + GSV – the possibilities are endless!

7. Be Decisive with Your Time

Our last tip is a bit open ended, but it’s just as important as anything else on this list.

ASU + GSV is one of the largest events of its kind, and while everyone might have their own theories about how to best spend your time there, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that this is your time.

Just because a bunch of people are trying to squeeze into a keynote presentation featuring Bill Gates, doesn’t mean you have to as well. Maybe you want to hang out somewhere different instead and try to strike up a conversation with somebody you haven’t met yet.

If you think that’s going to give you the best return on investment, then go for it! Because when it’s all said and done, there really is no “right way” to approach the summit.

Focus on making the experience work for you, because when you feel most comfortable, that’s when you’re going to be at the top of your game.

And with so many opportunities to capitalize on, it’s always important to put your best foot forward.

The 2024 ASU + GSV Summit will occur April 14-17 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California. For more information, or to register to attend, please visit this link. 

Related Posts

4 Common Mistakes Made by EdTech Founders (And How to Avoid Them)

Every Founder makes mistakes along their journey. But with EdTech, those mistakes might look a little different than what your typical SaaS company might encounter.

Even if you feel confident that you’ve accounted for everything in your control, it’s important to remember that EdTech is a very unique market with considerations you might not find in other industries.

Related Posts

EdTech advice

4 Common Mistakes Made by EdTech Founders (And How to Avoid Them)

Every Founder makes mistakes along their journey. But with EdTech, those mistakes might look a little different than what your typical SaaS company might encounter.

Even if you feel confident that you’ve accounted for everything in your control, it’s important to remember that EdTech is a very unique market with considerations you might not find in other industries.