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Business conferences: The ultimate business opportunity

Whatever your industry, there is probably a conference dedicated to some facet or component of the business.
 
 Carlee McCullough

Through social networking sites, we have the chance to network with many people on a daily basis without any personal contact. With the stroke of keys on a computer, we can post thoughts, ideas and promotions immediately and receive feedback instantly. Indeed, the Internet has provided us with many avenues to view online webinars, videos and classes to stay abreast of industry trends. However, none of these tools can replace the ultimate business opportunity, the business conference.  

Whatever your industry, there is probably a conference dedicated to some facet or component of the business. Find out when and where they are being held, and set the wheels in motion to attend the next one. There are various sites to find suitable business conferences such as www.smallbiztrends.com. You may even perform a web search to find a specific conference related to your business niche. If your budget is tight, consider attending conventions in town or nearby and save your money to attend the next one out of town.  Now if your budget can withstand travel, an out of town convention presents the best opportunity to get exposure to another city and gather information as well.  

Here are a few of the benefits of attending a conference related to your industry.

Networking opportunities. The most popular and obvious benefit of a conference is the networking potential. The opportunity to meet and dialogue with hundreds of like-minded individuals that are “experts” in their field is invaluable. For example, use breaks as an opportune time to exchange cards, develop synergies and alliances with other attendees. In addition, plan to stay at the conference “sponsoring” hotel.  

Opportunity to travel. Stepping outside of the local marketplace is the opportune time to learn what others are doing. When compared, sometimes it helps develop a greater appreciation for your own city.  

Educational updates. This component of a conference is critical to your professional development. Usually attendees are introduced to best practices, crucial updates, new products and emerging trends. If workshops and seminars are offered, make sure you attend and gather all information available to review later.

Relationships with industry experts. Many of the seminars and sessions are presented by some of the most known, respected and knowledgeable professionals in that particular industry. Begin to develop a rapport with them by introducing yourself, thanking them for sharing the information and asking relevant unanswered questions if needed.   

Vendor Displays. In addition to the impressive speakers and presentations, vendors may also provide the most current and up to date information related to your industry. Browse their displays and see if there is anything relevant or useful for your business.

Raised Profile. By attending relevant conferences with the best in the industry, you will inevitably raise your business and personal profile by networking and learning from the best business leaders in the country.

Social Events. Many conferences may have receptions and parties to network.  But if alcohol is being served, set yourself a limit even though you do not have to drive. You don’t want to run the risk of bad behavior that you’ll be sorry for the next day. Besides you want to be fresh for the next day of seminars.

Great food. Take the opportunity to sample some of the local authentic cuisine. Keep in mind, meal times are more about the networking opportunity than the actual food. Also, it’s easy to sit with people you know but try to mix it up so that you can meet new people.

Strong Support. Developing a strong support system is an important component of a successful business. Due to the competitive nature of business, sometimes it is easier to seek advice and support outside of the local market. A conference is a great place to build strong support with like-minded knowledgeable professionals.

Relax and learn. Conferences allow you the time away from the hustle and bustle of your business to relax, rejuvenate and become reenergized by the free flow and exchange of ideas as well as concepts in a relaxing environment. With new contacts in hand, new ideas flowing and a positive attitude, you are ready to keep pushing your business forward.

Hopefully after you have received all of the above wisdom from the conference, you will be armed with the network and equipped with the knowledge as well as inspired by being surrounded by successful colleagues.

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., Contract Compliance Officer, City of Memphis-Office of Contract Compliance, 125 N. Main St., Suite 546, Memphis, TN 38103 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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