Just a few years ago, Software Product Managers were hard-pressed to find product development conferences that were designed specifically for them. Product people had to settle for more generic entrepreneurship or broadly-focused tech conferences and pull whatever useful analogs that they could find.
Today, things are different. In fact, there are almost too many product management conferences to choose from. With the advent of virtual events made popular mostly out of necessity just last year — there are even more new experiences for a product manager to choose from. With so many options, product people are sure to be asking themselves several questions:
- What separates the best… from the rest?
- What differentiates each virtual experience from others?
- Coming out of a chaotic year like 2020 — what’s already planned for 2021?
If thinking of researching every single conference out there has you stressed out… we have some good news. We’re doing that legwork for you! We’re keeping an eye on some of the top conferences out there for product management professionals. We’ll be sharing what’s available to you — and throughout the year, we’ll be updating this as more conferences are announced (as many don’t yet have firm details for 2021). So be sure to keep checking back on this post.
Why do top Product Managers attend Product Management educational conferences?
It’s clear from speaking with members of the Product Collective community that the overwhelming question that they regularly ask themselves is ‘am I doing this right?’. Sure, there is a bevy of information now available online that will help you with a career. But you can’t really beat the experience of a live conference with engaging talks and peer-based learning to level-up your skills. Here are some more reasons to attend a Product Management conference (in-person or virtual):
- Serendipitously meet other product people who will open your eyes to new ways of thinking
- Take time to fully engage with keynotes presented by world-renowned product leaders
- For in-person events, you come for the talks and stay for all the fun side-attractions – parties, networking, and dinners for instance
- Learn about the latest software tools available to product people at the expo halls
Top product management conferences to attend in 2021
The landscape for Product Management conferences in 2021 will certainly be different from other years thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are still plenty of virtual conferences for Product Managers to choose from and the possibility of some in-person events happening in the Fall and Winter.
For the well-rounded Product Manager:
INDUSTRY Virtual: The Product Conference – Virtual Edition
When: October 5-6, 2021
Okay, we know that we’re biased on this one, but hear us out. It’s true that we at Product Collective have been the Organizers of INDUSTRY since its inception in 2015. But because of that, we know how much of our passion goes into it every year in making INDUSTRY the best experience for product management professionals.
But no conference — virtual or otherwise — is attended simply to learn from great talks. At INDUSTRY, you can contribute your own knowledge in interactive small-group discussions and make new friends in 1:1 video networking. Plus, we hire a professional journalist to take notes on every main stage talk — and every attendee receives these notes immediately upon the conclusion of the conference.
Groups, Startups, Nonprofits, and Students are also eligible for a discount on their pass (email mike [at] productcollective dot com for more details).
For the technical Product Manager:
ProductWorld – Virtual Edition
When: February 17-19, 2021
Tickets start at $275 (or $645 for the Premium Pass).
Co-located with Developer Week, ProductWorld is a 3-day virtual conference that may be especially suited for technical product managers. There are several specific tracks — including those that cover Agile, Rapid Prototyping, SCRUM, Product Teams, and Software.
There are 28 different speakers announced for ProductWorld, including those from companies like VMWare, Microsoft, and Goldman Sachs.
ProductWorld’s Premium Pass also includes access to DeveloperWeek and other networking events as well.
For the aspiring Product Manager:
ProductCon – Virtual Edition
When: February 18, 2021
Tickets start at £199.
Are you trying to break into the product world — or relatively new? ProductCon may be a great place to start. Organized by Product School, ProductCon tends to be the place where new product management professionals can get their feet wet and learn the basics.
There are eight speakers featured in this one-day virtual event — featuring talks from those at Facebook, Disney, Kickstarter, and elsewhere.
For the designer-turned-Product Manager:
Canvas – Virtual Edition
When: March 15, 2021
Tickets start at £149.00
What originally started as a front-end developer conference nearly 10 years ago has grown into something that’s much more relevant for all product people (although, it’s especially perfect for product managers with design roots). Based in the United Kingdom, Canvas has gone Virtual — which opens up the possibilities for anybody anywhere to attend.
This year’s lineup includes design and product leaders from SpaceX, Vodaphone, Bumble and others. Aside from keynote talks, Canvas includes Q&A sessions and small group discussions that let attendees share their knowledge as well. European product people may find the schedule to be especially fitting.
Other Conferences to Watch For in 2021:
Many product management conferences simply haven’t been announced quite yet in 2021. Some are still finalizing details, and others are likely exploring whether some version of an in-person conference is possible towards the end of the year. But there are quite a few recurring conferences out there that we suggest you keep your eye on as 2021 begins to unfold. We’ll continue to update this list as the year unfolds, but for now — look out for:
ProductCraft: The Conference
Mind the Product
Product Leader Summit
ProductCamp (various locations)
Our conclusion about attending product conferences 2021
As you can see, there’s no reason to stop learning during these uncertain times with all the virtual options available to you. And we are cautiously hopeful that we’ll be able to all see each other again in real life late this year or in early 2022.