Business events: worth attending or a waste of work time?

As a new business owner, I have made it my business to attend quite a few free local events in the past few weeks, as I blogged about in Setting up a brand new business: one month’s progress!
To re-cap, these included:
Be Your Own Boss
The Power of Lead Generation
Grow Your Followers
Business Mentoring from the Experts
Business Plan Workshop
Drop-in Business Clinic
Pitching and Presenting
I booked each event based on content and attended each one with an open mind and the intention to learn as much as possible but, as a socially anxious, introverted, new business owner, I actually learned so much more than the event content alone.

Therefore, based on my recent experiences, I think business events are definitely worth attending and beneficial based on these 5 elements:
* Positive comparisons
Rather than comparing myself negatively to other business owners, I have realised that anyone can create a business – including me! The event trainers have been knowledgeable, often inspirational, yet relatable – often criss-crossing through varied careers and experiences before choosing to set up their own business(es). However, they all have similar levels of self-belief, self-motivation and a determination to succeed. It is these qualities I recognise in myself and gives me hope and confidence for the success of my own business.
* Low-key networking practice
As someone who often struggles in social situations, the low-key networking element of business events suits me perfectly. As the onus is not on being social for the sake of it, chatting to/working with fellow business owners and the trainers at these evenets improves my social interaction confidence and generates informal feedback and reflection. Two of the events also resulted in securing my first two clients – completely unexpectedly!
* Reassurance
Being surrounded by peers at these business events reassures me that although I am a solopreneur, there is an array of help, advice and support available from a variety of sources – not just the events themselves, but the additional working/learning/collaboration opportunities which are extremely positive yet un-planned side-effects of the events.

* Sense of community
Following on from the benefit of reassurance, the sense of community at events is almost tangible. Strangers become friendly faces as you either see them at more than one event, connect on social media or perhaps become colleagues in the freelance sense! This community also forms a solid lead generating/supportive/networking database full of brilliant professionals to potentially help grow your business (and theirs!).
* Freebies!
Last but certainly not least – the freebies! In my experience, events usually provide:
  • Free professional (and personal) development – if you attend with a positive mindset!
  • Free food – always refreshments and sometimes breakfast and/or lunch depending on the time/duration of the event!
  • Free resources – so far I have received workbooks/sheets, case study examples, e-courses, pens, post-it notes, a tote bag and useful signposting to futher help/advice via leaftlets/business cards!
If you are a new business owner, or considering setting up a new venture, I would definitely recommed attending free events. I find all my local events on Eventbrite and through email subscriptions to all my local business support organisations.
Let me know how you get on – I might even see you at an event soon!
Claire
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