My not-so-secret reasons for being a conference addict!

As a small business owner, conferences provide me a smorgasbord of opportunities to nurture business opportunities, acquire skills and grow my community – both professional and personal. If the swag is the best thing I’m bringing home, I’ve not only wasted my money and time but also jeopardized the future of my business.

The WIBN Urban Retreat & Conference in Vancouver will be Leigh Mitchell’s 4th national conference (first time in Western Canada). If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should attend, consider this your 411. You can thank me during cocktail hour when you realize how much you needed to be here.

Meet potential clients

WIBN Idea FactoryAlmost all of my clients in the past year have come from conference attendance (supported by social media before and after the event). Nothing will ever replace a handshake and getting out there and meeting people is the single most important activity small business owners can engage in.

Form partnerships

Like meeting new clients, meeting your peers in a relaxed, collaborative environment can do wonders to open up your mind to new ways of working.

Increase your visibility

To be seen as someone who’s running a thriving business, it’s important to, well, be seen. Don’t underestimate the power of perception when it comes to whether people choose to do business with you – or your competition. While we’re on the visibility issue, update your picture and bio on your social media channels. Arriving 20 pounds heavier and 10 years older than your online persona may not send the message you hope it does.

Find (future) speaking opportunitiesWIBN Toronto

Speaking at conferences, whether it’s on a panel, part of a roundtable or as a presenter allows you to share your expertise with a lot of people at once. If you’re not comfortable standing on a stage alone, find creative ways to share yourself with others – or volunteer to work at the door.

Regain focus

As an entrepreneur, getting sidetracked by all my great ideas is my biggest threat to success. Attending a conference puts me in front of a highly qualified group of no-bullshi$$-allowed-peers. If there’s one group of people I’ll trust to set me on the right path, it’s this one.

Meet experts, mentors and peers in one place

Danielle LaPorte alone is worth the price of admission but the rest of the WIBN speakers are equally inspiring and eager to share their insights with you. Couple the speaker shazam with business coaches and mentors as well as eager attendees like yourself, and it looks like the price of the ticket is severely underpriced. Just my opinion though…

Renew your passion for your business

It’s easy to get mired in the minutia of your day to day business, letting the stress and frustration unravel your passion like the sweater Aunt Martha made you when you were 12. Reclaim your passion by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with others. Chances are, they’ll show that the ugly isn’t so ugly after all.

WIBN Toronto Make new friends, catch up with old ones

As a small business owner who works from home, I crave social interaction like I crave oxygen. I need to talk to people, whether it’s about business or my whacky neighbors. Attending a conference where I’m able to connect with old friends and make new ones is like someone putting on the oxygen mask for me on the plane.

 

Perfect your elevator pitch

Being face to face with potential clients and your peers forces you to perfect your pitch. If you don’t know who you are before you go to the conference, you’ll know by the time you leave. At the WIBN Conference, you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy a free 10 minute business coaching session – be sure to sign up.

Have fun!

Anyone who goes to a conference strictly for their professional development is not maximizing their ticket. Take advantage of the learning and networking and business building and don’t forget to enjoy yourself – or the destination if you’re in a new city.

Need more conference inspiration on how to maximize your time at conferences? Catch yourself up to speed – long before you arrive:

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Got your ticket for WIBN in Vancouver yet? Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn (whichever one works best for you) or leave a comment below.