Ego boost or trying to find a friend? Trying to save your business, or trying to promote your business? Conferences and roadshows are filled with all walks of life. Some of them are desperate, trying to save their business from spiralling out of control by leaning on someone more successful. Some of young pretenders, talking the talk without walking the walk. And others are there because most involve free beer. Which attendee are you?
Following the Hot Topics debate about the Telegraph’s technology weekend, there was much discussion on twitter about the usefulness of conference and weekend roadshows to start-up and small businesses.
Elle Osili, Entrepreneur - Twitter: @elleosili - Owner of Capital Publishing Ltd
Conferences are normally presented in such a way to leave small business owners confused. Are they worth the surprisingly high entrance fee? Will you be able to meet the correct people there? Is the personal touch, the best one?
However, if you are feeling brave and adventurous, and want to do more than send an email, then stock up on business cards, dry clean that suit, and prepare yourself to attend a conference.
Remember: do your research. When attending a conference related to your area of expertise, you will get opportunities to communicate with nationally-known leaders of your profession. Make sure you know your stuff, because conferences are one place where you will get caught out.
Those who have done the research, read the trade articles and recognise fellow colleagues by reputation and books, will get the most value out of attending.
Networking is one of the most fundamental skills when arriving at conference; however, it is majorly fruitless when you are preaching to the wrong audience. It would be a waste of money and time. Something small businesses cannot generally afford.
Use forums and reviews to see what ones are the best to attend. Ask for a guest list and check LinkedIn accounts, look whose speaking and running stalls and workshops.
Claire Georghiades FCA DIRECTOR, Accounts Resource Limited
Understand the market. Each conference does have its merits, but it’s imperative that you find the right one to suit your business needs, at the time it suits you.
To keep up networking opportunities, ask professional colleagues to become your conference ‘buddy’ and discuss afterwards. Share what you learn and work off each other. This is a way in doubling your productivity.
If you made the commitment to go to the conference, make sure you stay for drinks afterwards. Solid and useful information could be a whisper away, and it may just be your next business opportunity.
Make sure you’re active and interact with participants and those on the planning committee. Doing your research will help you get the most of conferences. By doing little research, there’s little point going.
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