It can be hard, amidst the often hectic day-to-day challenges of running a business, to justify the time and expense required to attend a conference. But by being selective, doing your research and finding the right event for you, it’s possible to spend an enormously inspiring – and cost-effective – day with like-minded industry professionals that will offer tremendous benefits for you AND your business.
I’m currently (and excitedly!) preparing to host my first conference: a NW VA event which takes place on 2nd & 3rd July 2015. Being involved in the behind-the-scenes organisational process has prompted me to reflect upon what I’ve gained from conferences as an attendee in the past and why these events are so important. I wanted to share these thoughts with you to remind you of the incredible potential that conferences hold for small businesses.
Get out of the office
With today’s technology making it possible for so many of us to run our businesses online, it’s often the case that our view becomes restricted to that of the screen in front of us. It’s said that a change is as good as a rest, and taking time out of your “digital cave” can recharge your batteries, give you a fresh perspective and bring new energy to your work.
This is the most obvious motivation for most people who attend conferences. There’s so much knowledge and experience to tap into, and people are usually open and willing to share stories at conferences. Whether it’s something you’ve been struggling with or thinking about trying out, the chances are you’ll find some answers and could save yourself a lot of time and money by listening to the advice, observations and expertise of others. For me, the unexpected bonus has been in learning about things I thought I already knew about, especially social media and the importance of using video in your online marketing.
I ALWAYS find conferences energising: there’s nothing as powerful as being around like-minded people who share your passion to rejuvenate your focus, boost your morale and strengthen your determination. I invariably come away with new ideas I want to expand and approaches I just can’t wait to implement!
Attending conferences filled with professionals from your industry can offer fantastic opportunities to build partnerships and new business ventures. I built my business on a strong ethos of collaboration and support, and attending conferences has enabled me to work with some of the most inspiring and exciting Associate VAs the industry has to offer. Not only has this enhanced and developed my business, but I’ve been rewarded with some wonderful friendships which continue to develop me as a person too!
Find content to share
I’m sure that we all struggle, from time to time, to come up with ideas for unique and engaging content to share on our website and social media platforms, but attending a conference offers a wealth of opportunities to get creative and share your experiences online. From checking yourself in on Facebook, to tweeting and posting interesting speakers’ snippets or writing a blog account of the event, your audience can benefit from your attendance. Use the conference hashtag to ensure that you’re part of the online buzz, and consider an on-site selfie (maybe with a guest speaker?) for a valuable opportunity to show the lovely face behind your business!
So, the next time you see a conference that could be interesting and relevant to your business, take the time to look a bit further before dismissing it as too expensive or time-consuming. The right event will offer invaluable opportunities to make new business relationships, learn something new, enjoy a change of scene, connect with others and gain inspiration. And invaluable needn’t mean expensive: the NW VA Conference, for example, includes an opportunity to network and mingle with other VAs over a social dinner, followed by a full-day of networking, learning and inspirational expert speakers, for just £60!
Hope to see you there !