We don’t recommend events.
Most events are generic and don’t have good returns. Lost time before and after an event can also distract from primary goals.
If you do attend an event, the audience should comprise potential customers, i.e. people who can provide revenue to your business. If an event is strictly about your technology, it is worth considering. Go to an event where the audience loves what you are making.
Otherwise, it is extremely hard to get a good return for the time and money invested.

Sponsoring a booth

Include an incentive. When hosting a conference booth, include an incentive to get people to visit your booth and sign up for something. Example: 50% off the first year’s subscription.
Strong messaging. Booths that tend to do well at events have strong, targeted messaging. To increase your chances of meeting your event goal, consider creating event-specific messaging tailored to the audience attending the event. For example, if the event is about a specific technology that your product uses, make that front and center.

Success criteria

Various tiers of participation can range from attending and presenting to hosting a booth and sponsoring. Be clear about your goal of attending the conference, and make sure it’s measurable. For example, “generate X# of sales leads” is a measurable goal. “Increase brand awareness” is not.
Examples of reasons to attend a conference and measurable goals:
  1. Recruiting: generate X# of qualified applicants for XYZ role(s).
  1. Lead generation: collect X# of qualified leads and contact leads within 3 days.
  1. Events can only help with the initial lead generation. The follow up is what is more useful and events are where the job is just starting.
  1. Community building: add X# of people to the Discord group.
  1. Investor relations: secure X# of meetings with specific investor firms.
Make sure the expected event audience fits the goal.

Team bonding

Attending an event as a team can be a good team-building opportunity. Consider arriving a few days early for dedicated team-building time. Team building is not a strong enough reason to sponsor or host a booth at an event. You can hold team-building events separately from conferences.