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Start-Ups

Top Conventions Every Small Business Should Attend

By Townes Haas   |    March 30, 2015   |    10:01 AM

Best Small Business Conventions for Grassroots Marketing

Conventions are one of the best ways to connect with potential customers and like-minded industry folks. While going to every convention can be a drag on the finances, attending a few choice ones can help with your guerrilla marketing. Here are some of the best conventions for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

  • Inc. 500 | 5000: This conference allows business people to connect with entrepreneurs from some of the fastest-growing American companies. Network with both peers and potential clients at one of the many networking events. Past speakers have included Guy Kawasaki and Marie Tillman.
  • South by Southwest: South by Southwest has grown exponentially over the years, offering small businesses many different opportunities to find new customers and potential investors. The Interactive portion of the festival even has an accelerator program.
  • Small Business Expo: The Small Business Expo is a big B2B event and provides some of the best networking opportunities for small business owners. There are networking events, parties, speed-networking sessions, workshops and more for those who register. Certain events require an additional fee so be sure to read the fine print if you want access to these other activities.
  • Small Business Summit: The Small Business Summit has been around about 10 years, and it is designed to be a teaching tool to help small businesses capture new and retain existing customers. It also offers opportunities to meet with small business experts and decisionmakers.
  • Developer Conferences: There are quite a few of these for different industries. Some of the top ones include the Game Developers Conference, which attracts over 20,000 participants, and HTML5 Developer Conference, which allows attendees to learn from and network with people from Twitter, PayPal, Google and Mozilla. Entrepreneurs who work in any of these fields can not only show their expertise at events, but also expand the market for their products or services.
  • Launch Festival: This festival has given rise to Yammer and Mint.com. It is designed to help launch new products, and there is even a competition for startups. The festival attracts over 5,000 attendees and over 40 companies.
  • TED Conference: TED is a phenomenon unto itself. Because of the popularity of TED Talks, the TED Conference attracts people from all walks of life and provides a wealth of information on Technology, Entertainment and Design. With more than 70 speakers, music and comedy performances, the conferences offers a wealth of opportunities to network with some of the best minds in the business.

Before attending any event, always check the marketing budget to verify that it's not being blown on a single or couple of events. These conventions should be part of a larger strategy, and a plan of action before attending is a necessity.