As business owners, we tend to put the day-to-day of our business first at the expense of personal and professional growth. Many business owners have achieved their success through years of training and development. While it may need to be put on the back burner from time to time, business owners should still commit to continued development as a way to ensure long-term success — both personally and for your business.
Here are four ways conferences can support your long-term success:
Expand your network
Remember all those business cards you invested in when starting your business? Conferences are THE place to hand them out! Conferences offer the perfect gathering place for like-minded individuals to come together to grow, learn and connect. Not to mention, you’ll most likely meet a myriad of others that could be great contacts to have, including vendors, investors, and business experts.
Pro Tip: Conferences offer a free sounding board to test out your elevator pitch. If you haven’t come up with your perfect spiel yet, consider coming with a few different ones and testing them out on different folks you meet. Be sure to take note of which one gets the best response or has the most follow-up questions. All of this feedback can be valuable. And remember, don’t just hand out your business card. Collect them from others as well!
Conferences are great places to find solutions to challenges that you have in your business. From printing partners and banks to software services and agencies, conferences reign in attendance from a wide variety of vendors and sponsors that are available to support startups as they grow.
Pro Tip: Conferences can be a bit overwhelming, and the flashy booths can draw you in when you’re not in the market. To help keep you on track, make a list of things you need, want or would be interested in. As you go through the conference, make those items on your list the priority.
At any conference, you’re bound to hear an inspirational story or two. From the keynote speaker to the new friend you meet at a breakout session, everyone at the conference brings their own experiences and stories. In my experience, actively listening to others’ stories can help you in your own journey, often bringing that age-old “If they can do it, so can I” mantra to the top. And, don’t discount the horror stories you may hear. Even those are inspirational as they can lead us to think differently and go an alternate route.
Pro Tip: As much as you may be seeking inspiration for yourself, your story may be inspiring to others. Be an active participant who provides feedback or personal insights. You never know how your experience may help someone else. Who knows, maybe you will be the keynote speaker at the next conference!
Learn and hear from others
Perhaps the No. 1 reason to go to a conference is to simply learn. The best conferences offer a variety of different sessions on a wide range of topics. Many times, you are allowed to pick and choose which sessions you want to attend. While you’ll want to make a list of priorities to attend, remember that sometimes the best learning at conferences happens in the hallways when you’re talking to others. And, remember to think outside your vertical and day-to-day business needs as you pick which sessions to attend. Sometimes attending sessions that aren’t necessarily for your immediate needs end up giving you the biggest reward.
Pro Tip: Check out a detailed agenda before you buy your ticket. If you see that there are multiple sessions that you are interested in attending that take place during the same time, see if there is a way to buy a conference pass that includes recorded sessions. This will allow you to get the most of the conference experience as you won’t be running from room to room.
There are hundreds of different conferences available to business owners. And, each event offers something different, not to mention ranges in price and format, making it often hard to tell which events are better to attend. To help you get started in your conference planning for 2022, consider looking into attending these annual events that many entrepreneurs and business owners have been going to for years:
Various dates and locations
June 1-3, 2022
Nov. 1-3, 2022
Sept. 6-9, 2022
San Diego, CA
Finding local events
If you’re not able to or even interested in traveling far for an event or perhaps you can’t take off more than an afternoon, contact your Chamber of Commerce to learn about local educational events being hosted this year. Most chambers put on monthly events that not only provide education, but also allow you to connect with other business owners in your area, offering a great opportunity to network at the local level. Additionally, check out the websites of your local Public Relations Society of America and American Marketing Association chapters. Both of these organizations host a wealth of low-cost educational opportunities that can help you better understand components of your business like marketing, public relations, advertising and social media.
Another great way to find events is to search for events in your area featuring the terms “Business” and/or “Startup” on Eventbrite. These local events are usually smaller than the national, regional or industry conferences listed above as they are typically attended by entrepreneurs in the immediate vicinity.
Pro Tip: When traveling for work or fun, check the site to see the events available while you’re in the area. Even short events and meetups, like coffee or lunch, can be a great way to meet other business owners, learn and share.