My husband and I did the unfathomable and took a 2,600-mile road trip from Tampa to Boston and back for a prominent industry conference for our business. During this odyssey, which included a nice stop off to see the sights in Savannah, car troubles that left us stranded in rural NC, and trekking back home through Hurricane Joaquin, I had a lot of time to ask myself, “What in the world was I thinking?”
Now, I know a big portion of that question is due to the fact that we chose to drive to the show. That much time in the car with the crazy problems we encountered is enough to drive almost anyone bonkers. But it also was a question about the show itself. As work-at-home business owners are trade shows and conferences really beneficial to our business? In our case, I believe the answer is definitely yes.
Today’s post is dedicated to the top five reasons why industry conferences are important to work-at-home business owners.
1. Opportunity to Make Face-to-Face Connections
Technology today definitely enables the work at home professional to establish a personal connection. Tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, or Facetime helps us to visually connect and read things like facial expressions or body language. But, depending on the type of business you’re managing, your customers, and even the location of your home office, creating opportunities for real-life interactions can be a challenge. Trade shows and conferences can be the one time a year when you physically see your customers, vendors, and partners.
2. Build Awareness
Regardless of whether you run your business from your home-based office or if you manage a traditional brick and mortar establishment, an industry conference gives you a chance to remind others of your services or products. A lot of business is a game of remaining top of mind, so, going to a relevant trade show and re-establishing your presence in the marketplace or introducing new products can be a valuable way to keep in front of your customers and peers.
3. Develop New Partnerships
A lot of times we get so busy in the day-to-day management of our businesses, that we are not really thinking of how we can develop new business streams or what new partnerships are important. At a trade show, people are there for the express purpose of establishing new relationships, so, they want to hear your story and are more open to discussing all the ways you can work together. While you work to make these connections, you will also continue to hone your rapport building skills, and you will perfect your ability to talk more and more eloquently about your business.
4. Stay Plugged Into New Trends in the Industry
At a trade show, everyone there is focused on sharing new ideas. Businesses showcase their latest product developments, speakers usually discuss the industry’s best practices, and there are often educational tracts that are available as part of the show. So, setting aside the time to attend the conference and exploring all the topics that interest you is a great way to make sure you stay abreast of all the latest and greatest developments in your industry.
5. Get Out of the Darn Office
As much as we love all the flexibility and balance that our work-at-home lives provide, sometimes it is just wonderful to get out of the office/house. Getting prepped, dressed to impress, and armed with lots of business cards is invigorating and can take you outside of your comfort zone. Plus, if you’re lucky, the conference will be held in an interesting place, and you can build in a little time to see the sights and experience the local culture. So, think of it as a mini-vacation that also helps your business to flourish.
These are just a few of the reasons attending an industry trade show or business conference could be beneficial to you and your home-based business. What are some other reasons you were glad you attended a recent conference? What did you miss by not going?
Now, how you decide to get to these shows is an entirely different discussion. But, if you are interested, I’d be happy to share my views on why driving almost 3,000 miles may not be the best option.
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Christy Schutz is a communications professional and freelance writer focused on topics like employer/personal branding, career management, personal development, women in the workplace, and female entrepreneurs. She enjoys putting 16+ years of experience in the advertising, recruitment marketing, employee/internal communications and special events industries to good use by helping others to discover, develop and market their own distinct calling or mission. This Tampa Bay, FL-based Mom also keeps herself busy by raising 4 kids, caring for her husband & doting on her dogs Petey and Daisy!