This is the year you need to get out of your office and invest time in learning something new. One of the best ways to do this is to attend a conference—in person. Benefits include getting away from the daily office routine and meeting other like-minded people with whom you can collaborate on new ideas and industry trends. With so many different types of conferences out there, one is sure to fit your specific needs.
Meet businesspeople: The NMX conference, January 4-6 in Las Vegas, covers marketing areas such as blogging, video and podcasting, which are now required skills in the Internet connected world for small-business owners. Listen to keynotes, walk the trade show floor and participate in small breakout sessions.
Find business partners: The Affiliate Summit conference, in January in Las Vegas and August in New York City, helps find innovative methods to scale your company through all digital marketing channels, including social, search and paid. Attendees also include agencies, merchants, networks and other vendors.
See what works for big brands: Social Media Marketing World offers a rare opportunity for small-business owners to learn what's working online with big brands. Connect with the world's top social media pros and their companies on March 26-28 in San Diego, as a first step to transforming your social media marketing strategy.
Learn search marketing: ClickZ Live (formerly SES or Search Engine Strategies) is an excellent education resource to incorporate strategy and tactical advice from the best minds in the online marketing world, including paid, owned, earned and business intelligence. If you want to “be found” by your customers, this event, on March 31-April 3 in New York City, will help you formulate a plan.
Find capital: Hatch Match is the Hatchery’s annual conference that hosts one-on-one meetings between entrepreneurs, advisors, venture capitalists and angel investors. At this year's event, in Hoboken, New Jersey, on April 24, small businesses can sign up to present to multiple angels and VCs or just network with other entrepreneurs.
Learn to present: The Perform National Speakers Convention, June 29-July 2 in San Diego, is an opportunity to meet hundreds of small-business owners from all over the world who come together annually to learn new strategies for presenting, marketing and managing their companies. You will leave inspired by some amazing business performances and storytelling.
Have an adventure: The World Domination Summit is always sold out months in advance. This event, July 11-13 in Portland, Oregon, brings unconventional people together from across the business universe. It's a combination of large, TED-type talks with small session workshops and lots of meet-ups. Where else can you mix business, Bollywood and hammock races?
Find a mentor: CEO Space hosts five annual CEO retreat weeks each year that has become networking on steroids. A team of leading Fortune 500 coaches provide MBA-like lesson plans. At this event, find a lifetime mentor, access to capital and cutting-edge entrepreneurial training. Attendees enjoy lifetime benefits that extend through a network of worldwide business clubs which foster cooperative business practices.
Form a personal think tank: SOBCon is a two-day interactive business event that allows its attendees to move their own ideas into business action. It's an opportunity to increase your own small-business IQ in a supportive learning environment, scheduled for Chicago in 2014. With only 100 people in the room, come to network with business luminaries like Chris Brogan, Carol Rot and Tim Sanders.
Meet a CXO: The C-Suite Network Conference is an invitation-only event hosted by celebrity CMO, Jeff Hayzlett. It allows small-business owners to meet with c-suite thought leaders and learn best practices for the future. The conference, held twice a year, emphasizes the networking opportunities to make a personal connection with leading CXOs.
What conference will you be attending next year? Share with the community in the comments.
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