I had a chance to sit down with Zachary Lezberg, owner and producer of Small Business Expo, the largest business to business trade show and conference for small business owners, entrepreneurs and startups.
Under Zach's direction, Small Business Expo has been named one of the fastest growing privately held businesses by Inc 5000, multiple years. Bringing together more than 100k attendees yearly, SBE has experienced significant growth in major markets like Philadelphia, Dallas, and NY. “We are in 15 cities this year (2018), we are expanding in 2019 to 20 cities.”
Zach says the SBE is “one jam packed day full of business-to-business networking,” where business owners “come together, get inspired, make new business contacts, find leads, and new opportunities.”
We all know the importance of networking. Events like the SBE can be vital to the growth and development of a small business. Zach reminds us of this, “You never know, you may meet somebody at this show that is going to jump start your company.” Given Zach’s experience, I asked him to share his best advice about leveraging networking events and conferences.
Zach’s tips for attendees include:
- Be prepared to attend the whole day.
- Bring a ton of business cards.
- You can’t do it all. Study the agenda in advance and decide what means most to you.
- Leave time to visit exhibitors and speed networking events.
- Set phone alarms for each session you want to attend to keep you on track.
- Make note of sessions you can’t attend and reach out to the speaker for resources.
If you aren’t sure whether to attend as a visitor or exhibitor ask yourself the questions below. If your answer is yes, then an exhibitors table is where you’ll want to be.
- Do you have something to sell?
- Do you want to be a featured destination where thousands of people will be informed about your services?
- Could your business benefit from extensive marketing?
Zach also offered few key takeaways about building, growing and running a business.
Of mistakes: “Being in business is about making mistakes, that’s how you learn.”
Of growth: “Don’t feel like you have to go too big too quick. Start small and PERFECT your product and service before expansion.”
Of fiscal responsibility: Invest in tools in tools that you NEED but do it wisely. “A website that is fast, informative, and easy to use is critical but it does not need to break the bank.”
Zach has even more to say about small business ownership here in the full interview.