For small business owners, business conferences can be both a blessing and a curse. They give you the opportunity to develop new skills and learn strategies that you can use in your business, and they also provide you with the chance to meet new people and expand your business network. Unfortunately, they also pull you away from your business and they cost money, so it’s important that you get the most out of any business conference you attend.

Here are some tips to help you come away from your next conference feeling motivated and energized, rather than overwhelmed and exhausted.

Plan Your Sessions

Almost all conferences announce their activities—including keynote speakers, workshops, daily sessions, and networking events—ahead of time. Not every keynote speaker and workshop will be relevant to you and your business, so to save yourself from wasting time in a session you don’t care about, make a note of the sessions and events that most interest you. If an event requires registration, make sure you register ahead of time so you’re not disappointed when you get to the venue.

Be Prepared

With so many people at one event, you’re sure to run into someone who can offer you a business opportunity. It could be a potential client, a mentor, or someone who provides services you might need. Take enough business cards and promotional materials (brochures, pamphlets or whatever your business uses) with you so the people you meet can contact you after the conference is over.

Take Time for You

It can be easy at a conference to spend your days in sessions, your evenings networking, and your free moments checking emails and dealing with work issues. That will leave you overwhelmed, frustrated and tired, and you won’t get as much out of the conference. Make sure you get a full night’s sleep, so you’re rested and alert for the next day’s events. If you have a few quiet moments, take those for yourself so you have a second to breathe.

Even better, plan breaks into your day. Just because you’re at a conference doesn’t mean you have to attend every event. Trying to take everything in to get the most out of the conference can backfire because you’ll be so tired you won’t get anything out of the later sessions. Don’t be afraid to be selective about the events you attend.

Pick an Action Step After the Conference

It’s tempting to go to a conference and come away with a ton of information and skills that you want to use right away. You feel energized by what you’ve learned and you want to implement it all as soon as possible. That can lead to you making too many changes at once and giving up when making the changes becomes too difficult. Instead, pick one or two things that were the most relevant to your business and that you feel you can implement without too many obstacles.

Final Thoughts

Small business conferences are a fantastic way to develop skills, learn new strategies, and grow your business. By following a few easy tips, you can make your next conference an energizing learning experience, rather than an exhausting ordeal.

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