Small business events have gained a reputation for bad food, big crowds and endless travel. But these conferences don't have to be time-wasting excursions through never-ending meeting halls. By knowing which of the best small business events to attend, you can leave the rubber chicken dinners behind and save your time for exciting conferences that will help you gain leads, network with your peers, learn about new trends and improve your business.
Reasons to Attend Events
One reason business events have gained a checkered reputation is because many people attend events that are not tailored to their needs. As a small business owner, your time and money may be tight; you'll only want to invest in events that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
These events should be:
- Purposeful: Every event you attend should have a clear and stated purpose, whether that purpose is business education, networking or sales.
- Targeted: Only attend events that put you in contact with the people you need to meet. These include peers, potential vendors or customers.
- Affordable: It's better to invest in one major conference per year that inspires, motivates and connects you with the right crowd than to attend multiple conferences that won't benefit you as much. Set an event budget for yourself and plan accordingly.
The 5 Best Small Business Events
Choose events to attend or exhibit at with your end goals in mind. Consider the following five small business events as a starting point for your research. These business conferences almost always come up in discussions of the best events for small business owners:
- America's Small Business Summit: Held annually in Washington, D.C., this event is sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Association. It provides a great educational forum for small business owners and a chance to network with like-minded entrepreneurs.
- SXSW: South by Southwest, or SXSW, has become one of the leading conferences for small business owners. It's an unusual conference that draws both artists and business leaders together to focus on creativity, innovation and change.
- Small Business Expo: A general business trade show especially designed for the small business professional, Small Business Expo is a showcase of business services aimed at small business owners. Consider attending for educational opportunities and networking, too.
- New York Business Expo: The annual New York Business Expo offers business networking and education for business owners. The event attracts luminaries of the business world as keynote speakers and educators.
- America's SBDC Conference: This is the national Small Business Develop Centers' conference, which offers seminars on technology, business development, marketing and more.
Local Events to Attend
Don't forget local events. If your travel schedule and budget is limited, consider joining and attending local chamber of commerce events, women or minority business groups, or local networking functions held by your area's small business development center. This is the easiest way to leave your desk or counter and get to know other local business leaders.
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