When you want to grow your business, you have to be willing to look for new opportunities. You have to look for a new spark of an idea that allows you to build brand demand and create a strong company. You can’t do what you have always done to get new results.
Finding The Spark
Five years ago, I walked into TheSmallBusinessExpo.com event. I was there to learn from the experts on how to grow my business. I remember walking the exhibit floor and seeing all the companies there to serve the small business community. I had been to conferences before, but this was different.
When you attend a huge event with a massive exhibit floor full of vendors, you collect the swag, and you get to see and experience an array of companies ‘doing their thing’. You also get to see speakers take the stage and give their speeches.
But let me tell you that conferences are more than swag and speakers. As an event speaker, I talk about igniting marketing and sales at conferences all over the country and although I am the one on the stage I know it is not about me. Events are NOT about the speakers…in fact, every conference is about YOU. All the programming and even the sponsors are there for YOU.
With the keen focus to being online in today’s economy, one thing will never change. That is the value of face-to-face. In a world consumed with “online” stuff it is easy to hide behind the computer and do a good day of work. However, I believe attending conferences can help you see new perspectives that will ignite your growth.
In fact, I can trace back my journey to wanting to be a speaker by watching them at The Small Business Expo in 2012. It was not an online video (I’ve watched thousands…maybe millions.) I was there live-in-person which I have come to see is more emotionally connecting than online engagement. I was sitting in the audience soaking in the wisdom of each speaker on the stages. After that, I walked the exhibit floor to meet some of the speakers and sponsors. I thought how cool it would be to be a speaker at an event like this one day. Well, that was the spark that started me on my journey.
The Spark Leads To Transformation
From that moment, seeing those speakers, I was on a quest to find my way to top stages. I truly believe attending other events helped on that journey. Now I have spoken more than 100 times to various audiences all over the country. I have been featured in major media like Forbes, Inc, Business Insider and Success Magazine. I am even part of the media with my podcast “Leaders in the Trenches” and write for Entrepreneur Magazinefor more than two years.
I am not bragging here. I am sharing with you about the start of something special in my life and business all because I attended a live conference. Going to The Small Business Expo changed the trajectory of my business.
Here are three key benefits to live-in-person that you can’t get online in a way that connects to your soul.
Three Benefits of Attending Live Conferences
You can benefit greatly by attending live conferences within and outside your industry. I think both can help you see new ways to navigate growth. At large conferences, you get a chance to learn from a variety of experts and connect with a magnitude of people. At small ones, there is more intimacy and vulnerability. Both beneficial to your growth, if you have the right intentions.
1. Build Relationships
Meeting people face-to-face, nose-to-nose is a great way to start the relationship. You can build rapport faster than only connecting online. You can also get to the heart of how you can establish a win-win kind of relationship.
Taking your business to a new level requires that you expand and deepen your relationships. One added benefit of live conferences is testing out how people respond to the “what do you do?” question. You can see the facial expressions of strangers when you share about yourself and your business. It’s a great testing ground for finding what works. Much faster than putting it on your website and hoping it resonates. Look at each conversation as a way to develop your messaging and refine it at hyper speed.
2. Discover Opportunity
Be open to new partnerships that could be a new resources or relationships (see #1 above). Look for new opportunities from the speakers and attendees. You might want to be on the stage next year, or you might want to exhibit at the event. New opportunity can come from many areas if you are looking for it.
Listen to the whispers that happen deep inside you. This is the quiet voice that wants you to look at something new. Don’t ignore it. Don’t let your fears keep you from hearing that message. In fact, let your fears be a signal to a place of growth. You have much to learn by leaning into those fears.
3. Gain Insight
Getting outside your daily routine can give you the spark you need to grow. I opened up this article with my inspiration by attending a live conference. What will your “spark” be?
Be open to receiving the new insights by attending the workshops and looking at how the sponsors are serving the audience of the event.
However, let me warn you here too. It is not about the “ideas” you have. It is about which ideas you take and execute on. The rule of thumb that I like is the “one idea rule.” When you get the one idea that you want to test within your business, you put all the others away to review until you execute the one idea. Even better if you can test that one idea in the next 48 hours. That is the “48-hour rule” requiring you to have version one implemented / launched in less than 48 hours of the idea that you are committed to doing.
Now that I have made my case for attending live events. I want to share with you about the next big live event that I’m attending. It is the very one hosted by the people that started my journey as a speaker. It is where I received my spark of inspiration to become a speaker.
In fact, I want to invite you to my speech where I talk about “Be The Choice, Not A Choice” so that you can position your business as a leader within your niche. You no longer have to be a secret and wait for referrals. My speech has a UNIQUE element to it that engages the audience and entertains them too. The next event in Atlanta hosted byTheSmallBusinessExpo.com will give you a chance to see me and put the ideas within this article to work. This event showcases more than 100 exhibits and has 25 workshops and panel discussions. The best part of this event is it is free. If you don’t live in Atlanta, you can find other events in 18 different cities around the country here.
Let your next conference be the spark to your business. Let it be the catalyst to new growth. Look for relationships, opportunities, and insights that will help you create a stronger business at the next conference you attend.
About the Author:
Gene Hammett works with companies to discover new strategies for growth. From small businesses to large corporations, he presents his ideas on becoming THE choice, not a choice and unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit by activating internal brand ambassadors for companies. Gene’s podcast, Leaders in the Trenches, has been recognized by Inc. and Entrepreneur for its insight on marketing and sales leadership.
Gene is also the author of The Trap of Success: A Brutally Candid Guide to Overcoming Your Fears, Finding Significance, and Achieving Profound Success. A regular contributor to Entrepreneur, Gene has also been featured in Forbes, Success, Business Insider, and Inc.