My home state of Iowa hosts an annual entrepreneurship conference called Entrefest, where entrepreneurs come together to learn from each other, hear from top experts in various fields related to business and entrepreneurship, pitch their new business ideas and make connections with potential investors. Seeing the success of Entrefest reminded me of some of the reasons why it’s important for small business owners to attend conferences and networking events. Here are three ways that attending conferences can help you build your brand:
- Networking helps you hone and focus your brand.
Going to a conference gives you a chance to meet lots of people in a short amount of time. Just by the nature of making conversation in a conference setting, you’re going to have lots of opportunities to practice your “elevator speech” – the short, concise, compelling description of what your business is all about. Going to networking events and business conferences is a great way to get better at explaining what your business does, what you do best and why it matters – quickly and engagingly! Sometimes the best way to clarify your thoughts about your business’ brand is to quickly introduce yourself to dozens or hundreds of other people. Pay attention to how you talk about your brand. Which key points do people tend to respond to? Which aspects of your story do you find yourself skipping over or leaving out? Just by talking with lots of strangers (and hopefully making new friends), you will get closer to figuring out exactly what is most important about your brand’s story.
- You get great insights into what’s happening in your market.
Sometimes the best way to keep a finger on the pulse of your market is to go to a business conference. By meeting with other small business owners and entrepreneurs in your industry, your city or your region, you will gain valuable insight into how your business stacks up against the competition. This can be a “good” thing” or a “bad” thing – you might discover that your business has a more professional image and a better-articulated brand than most of your competitors; or you might realize that you have a lot of work to do to get your business up to speed with what other companies are doing in your industry. Either way, it’s great to know how your brand compares to others in your field, and being at the conference in person is often the best way to quickly find out.
- You get inspiration to make positive changes.
Attending a business conference can be one of the best ways to break out of your usual routine, get some fresh perspective and re-energize your business with a dose of extra focus and renewed energy. Going to a business conference can be like a “working vacation” where you get out of the office or away from the store for a few days, get to experience a new setting, meet new people and hear about some exciting new developments in your industry. Most of all, attending a business conference is a valuable investment in your business. Going to a conference gives you the freedom to explore some new possibilities for your business, whether it’s new product ideas, new operational tactics to include in your business, new ways of doing things, or just a fresh “big picture” perspective on where you want your business and your brand to go next.
The Internet is wonderfully valuable for learning the latest trends, tips and tactics affecting your business – but sometimes the best way to learn and connect with others is by attending a conference in person. Don’t miss the chance to attend an entrepreneurship conference or small business expo in your area – or even in a different city on the other side of the country.
Kabbage Takeaway: Attending conferences for entrepreneurs and small business owners can be an ideal way to hone your brand, meet new people, learn from experts in your field and come away from the experience with a more profitable business and a more valuable brand.
What business conferences do you attend? Let us know in the comment section below.