Thanks to a broad range of low-cost technology solutions, many small business activities are conducted online, remotely and often instantly. You can have meetings, share tools, give demonstrations, provide training and more, without ever leaving your office.

But despite the many benefits of technology, there is no substitute for live, in-person small business conferences.

Here are a few important reasons to attend small business conferences, trade shows or other live networking events that are relevant for your business.

1. Educational Opportunities

The opportunity to learn something new is one of the biggest draws for most business conferences. While there are often excellent small business conferences held online via web conferencing, there are some educational benefits you just can't access unless you're in a live, face-to-face setting.

Live events give you the opportunity to watch and learn from visual cues, body language and the overall atmosphere and environment. These non-verbal elements and the opportunity to see, feel, touch and absorb the information being presented can add a new level of learning that is not easily accessed via online events.

2. In-Person Networking

Another benefit of live small business conferences is the opportunity for in-person networking. When you attend a live event, you have access to other attendees who are often your colleagues. Conferences are an excellent time to make connections, share information and learn about your peers. You never know when you might want to team up for a joint venture or make a referral to someone you met at a live event.

During live business conferences, networking isn't limited to the participants either. When you attend an event in person, you have access to the presenters to ask questions, share ideas and expand on what was covered. These informal connections that take place between sessions are often invaluable.

Moreover, it's next to impossible to take a contact out to lunch when you're conferencing online.

3. Learn About Competition

If you're attending a small business conference because it focuses on services, your competition will be attending for the same exact reasons. Live events give you a chance to see who your competitors are first-hand, find out more about their businesses, gather information on their strengths & weaknesses, and conduct research that will help you give your business the edge.

4. Marketing to Potential Clients

Along with attending an event as a participant, you can also consider attending a small business conference or trade show as a vendor. This will allow you to benefit from some of the educational opportunities and in-person networking that takes place, but it also gives you direct access to market your products and services to your ideal customers and clients.

This kind of direct marketing and promotion to members of your target audience who are already in a learning, networking and development mode is virtually impossible to get in other ways. And it gives you a chance to conduct market research and learn more about your target audience in a live setting.

5. Spark Creativity and Innovation

We all need to take a break from routine in order to stay at the top of our game. Sure, you can (and should) take a vacation and time off, but there is also tremendous value in using a small business conference as a break from the day-to-day operations of your business. A change of scenery, especially one that is rich with educational and networking opportunities, can help you spark your creativity, develop new ideas and think in innovative ways.

If you invest the time and money to attend a live event that offers value for your small business, you can almost guarantee that you will return home with new tools, valuable contacts and a renewed approach that will help you manage and grow your business better than before.

Related Reading: 5 Reasons You Should Attend a Conference in Your Field

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