On Wednesday (Nov 20th), I had the pleasure of attending the Brooklyn Small Business Expo. This was my first time ever and my first conference/business event in a very long time. So I decided to do a recap as well as share some tips for those looking to attend the next Small Business Expo.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the event, the Small Business Expo is a business trade show that travels across the states. There’s workshops presented by businesses on a variety of business-related topics to vendor that offer tons of resources for your business. I believe all of them provide a speed networking section so you can connect with the other attendees, as well as a business card exchange table.
One thing I love was the “Get Dotted” feature using different colored dot stickers to represent different industries. You take a sticker that matches the industry your business is in. You put it on your person or attendee badge so that others looking for a product or service can easily identity who can help them.
Oh, I should mention that the event is free to attend but you can upgrade your badge (from Bronze) to a Silver ($50) or Gold ($100) to get extra perks. Seeing that this was my first time ever attending and only finding out about it a few days before, I opted for the Bronze Badge. My advice would be to attend for free your first time around.
Then if you feel like you didn’t get the full experience, you can always upgrade the next time to get faster check-in, priority seating at the workshops and speed networking.
Now, let’s get to my real recap.
Brooklyn Small Business Expo: A First-timer’s Experience
I’m not sure if the Brooklyn EXPO Center was the best venue or maybe the layout was just a little off. Let’s start off with the fact that there were no dedicated outlets to charge your devices and no WIFI. I know it an open vendor space and it’s not a like a Hotel so running wires everywhere would have been disaster. There were some empty spaces where a standing mobile charging station could have been step up and one of the big brands in attendance could have sponsored some internet service.
Maybe I’m just spoiled by the other conferences and events I attended in the past and only one of them was on a similar scale of the Small Business Expo. They had WIFI and outlets but it was held at a different type of venue. I also found the workshop rooms were extremely small and there’s no way they were doing priority seating. It was more like a first come first serve.
Plus it was hard getting in and out of those rooms along with the tight hallways. It wasn’t all bad. Like I mentioned before, I love the “Get Dotted” feature as well as the business card exchange table. The variety of business vendors lineup was great. You had some small business like a CBD company to big brands like Amazon, Fedex, Xero, and FreshBooks.
Since one of the speakers for a session I wanted to attend was sick, I only attended two workshops plus one of the main stage events which was the screening of a new business show called Five Day Biz Fix on CNBC.
Here’s my top six takeaways:
- As business owners, we are wasting both time and money but not using social media properly.
- Content is King (which if you don’t know you need to get with the program already). Focus on Educating your community and you got add video to the mix.
- You need to build an active community (relationships, people!), stop trying to sale someone right off the bat.
- LEARN – DO – DELEGATE (and repeat)!
- Stop doing what doesn’t bring you leads
- And lastly, share your story.
As they say, I got my whole life by just attending these two sessions. I got enough to work on to carry me into Q1 and maybe even Q2 of 2020. I’m glad my sister told me about the event as well as encouraged me to attend. I was completely nervous and overwhelmed at first. Now that I had one event under my belt I know what to do for next time.
Here are my tips for other first-time attendees of any Small Business Expo events. (Show Schedule)
- Dress code is listed as Business Casual although I saw dress down everyday wear. So be comfortable but presentable.
- Research the location before going. There was some food options but not worth the price for me at least. I left and found something to eat outside which there wasn’t many options either.
- Attend for free unless you truly want those extra perks.
- Carry a small notebook to write down notes.
- If you prefer to use your device, make sure to bring a portable charger.
- You may also need to invest in a personal hotspot for Internet access.
- Bring a bag to carry all of the flyers and freebies you may pick up.
- Business cards are still a thing so bring along a card holder so they aren’t floating around in your bag. One of the perks is access to an app to scan cards but I bet you can find a different solution for free. Google.
- Create some sort of marketing material for your business – business card, flyer, brochure. While you are in one of the workshops or speed networking rounds, someone may be at the business card exchange table. Get your leads however you can.
I definitely will attend the next Small Business Expo in New York City (June 4, 2020). Will you? We got six months to decide and to make plans. See you there!