The best way to develop your business is in person
It never ceases to amaze me the plethora of expos, conferences and online webinars that are at our disposal.
After attending Salon Melbourne I came across this great article by Alyssa Gregory* and wanted to share its importance as we steer headlong into another 8 months of important calendar events for our industry. Enjoy!
Thanks to a broad range of low-cost technology solutions, many small business activities are conducted online, remotely and often instantly. You can have meetings, share tools, give demonstrations, provide training and so much more, without ever leaving your computer.
Despite the many benefits of technology, there is still no substitute for live, in-person small business conferences and expos. Below are a few of the biggest reasons you should attend small business conferences, trade shows and other live networking events that are relevant for your industry.
1. Educational Opportunities
The opportunity to learn something new is one of the biggest draws for most business conferences. While there are often excellent conferences held via the Internet, through web conferencing and over teleconference lines, there are some educational benefits you just can’t access unless you’re in a live, face-to-face setting.
Live events give you the opportunity to watch and learn from visual cues, body language and the overall atmosphere and environment. These non-verbal elements and the opportunity to see, feel, touch and absorb the information being presented can add a new level of learning that is not easily accessed via online events.
2. In-Person Networking
Another benefit of live expos and conferences not easily duplicated is the opportunity for in-person networking. When you attend a live event, you have access to other attendees who are often your colleagues. Conferences are an excellent time to make connections, share information and learn about your peers. You never know when you might want to team up for a joint venture or make a referral to someone you met at a live event.
During live epos and conferences, networking isn’t limited to the participants either. When you attend an event in person, you have access to the presenters to ask questions, share ideas and expand on what was covered. These informal connections that take place between sessions are often invaluable.
3. Learn About Competitors
If you’re attending an expo or conference because it focuses on information that will help you improve your business, products and services, your competition will be attending for the same exact reasons. Live events give you a chance to see who your competitors are first-hand, find out more about their businesses, gather information on their strengths and weaknesses, and conduct research that will help you give your business the edge.
4. Marketing to Potential Clients
Along with attending an event as a participant, you can also consider attending a small business conference or trade show as an exhibitor. This will allow you to benefit from some of the educational opportunities and in-person networking that takes place, but it also gives you direct access to market your products and services to your ideal customers and clients.
This kind of direct marketing and promotion to your target market, who are already in a learning, networking and development mode, is virtually impossible to get in other ways. And it gives you a chance to conduct market research and learn more about your target market in a live setting.
5. Spark Creativity and Innovation
We all need to take a break from routine in order to stay at the top of our game. Sure, you can (and should) take a holiday and time off, but there is also tremendous value in using a small business conference as a break from the day-to-day operations of your business. A change of scenery, especially one that is rich with educational and networking opportunities, can help you spark your creativity, develop new ideas and think in innovative ways.
If you invest the time and money to attend a live event that offers value for your business, you can almost guarantee that you will return home with new tools, valuable contacts and a renewed approach that will help you manage and grow your business better than before.
*By Alyssa Gregory. Alyssa is a small business collaborator and founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a social, educational and collaborative community that provides small business help for entrepreneurs. She consults small business owners, writes about small business topics, brings entrepreneurs together, and speaks to groups about starting, managing and growing small businesses. She has a passion for creating opportunities for collaboration and sharing knowledge.