With the majority of modern businesses executing their processes, operations and admin online, we all too often forget that business actually happens between humans. Sending emails, making calls and even pinging the occasional ‘professional’ text message often puts our mind at rest that we are ‘working on’ important professional relationships.
But is this really enough? Can relationships be built and strong business collaborations be formed without a real human to human experience? Arguably this trend for online communications has left a gap for those who take the time and effort to benefit from creating real connections.
In fact, some studies highlight that in a world of ‘fast communication’ we are generally more connected yet are experiencing more feelings of lone.... Not only is this a worrying fact for society, but when you consider that businesses are built on trust and that buying decisions are widely based on emotions, this is also a threatening trend for business.
Yet with modern business being so fast-paced, it can seem counter-intuitive to actively seek out and meet those who can help you grow your business. That is where small business conferences come into play. By offering a platform for genuine networking and relationship building, these types of events are crucial for ambitious small businesses.
Why the fuss?
We may all love the idea of attending a business conference. It’s an opportunity to meet colleagues, chat with suppliers and on occasion have a beer or two. Yet when you weigh up the upfront investment and the time you will spend away from your usual role and responsibilities, we all too often decide against attending.
But small business events offer a host of benefits which should not be ignored.
Building a human connection
We have already mentioned the importance of building a strong human connection when it comes to the future success of your business. Attending small business events provides you with the platform you need to do this.
Opting for events which are very specialist to your area of expertise or where a high concentration of your customers or potential customers will be attending means you increase your chances of meeting and connecting with the right people.
The added benefit of these types of events is that people widely attend for the exact purpose of building mutually beneficial relationships with others in the industry. These sorts of networking opportunities are unprecedented in other social environments and all smart businesses should seek to leverage them to their benefit.
With the internet came high expectations for the development of education. Undeniably, recent years have seen the availability of educational content move from widely gated and expensive to widely available and free.
But with this shift, a new issue has emerged. With such an abundance of content, it now becomes the challenge to find that which is worth digesting.
Small business conferences do this job for you. By researching and curating the best thought leaders in the given industry, they offer businesses an opportunity to tap into the latest trends, best practices and most informative content out there.
Small business events also offer access to information which is not always widely available. For example, they enable you to undertake research on competitors, discover their future plans and understand their current focus.
They also allow you to talk directly to current and potential customers, allowing you to get a feel for what their current challenges are and how you as a business may be able to help them remedy them.
For example, a small marketing agency may attend social media events and learn key information including:
Position yourself as a thought leader
Running your own events opens up the benefits of small business conferences even further.
By undertaking your own function, you are able to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry. It also allows you to take centre stage, highlighting your own products and services as an integral part of the space in which you operate.
How to prepare
Getting the most out of small business conference requires a good level of preparation. To make the most out of your investment in an event:
Research the event
Take some time to research the event before attending to:
By the very nature of successful small businesses, those that work in them usually have a very full schedules. So, taking a day or two out of the office to attend a small business event can often lead to stress on deadlines.
Although this cannot always be avoided it is good to plan your workload to ensure limited stress associated with taking time out of the office. This can either be done by managing client/colleague expectations or by working with your team to ensure that crucial and timebound tasks are taken care of.
Develop a sales strategy
Every event you go to is an investment for your business. Both in terms of physical costs including ticket price, travel and accommodation, as well as in terms of the time you are spending away from your usual day-to-day tasks.
Although there are a host of benefits to attending events, the opportunity should always be taken to grow your network and develop leads. This means ensuring you are prepared. This could include ensuring you:
We can see that small business conferences offer great opportunities. Those who take the time to prepare for them can use them to build their networks, educate themselves and undertake crucial research into their industry.