Educational conferences and networking events for small businesses and startups abound. Here is our hand-picked list of conferences, seminars and events. Don’t miss out on these excellent opportunities to help you start a business, grow it and run it like a pro!
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Startup Weekend 
Multiple Cities and Dates 2012 – see website for full list
Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos and presentations. Participants create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurials. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on a idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.
Spark & Hustle Tour 
Multiple Cities and Dates, May through August 2012
Led by Tory Johnson, the jam-packed, high-energy day enables you to experience big breakthroughs in your business and yourself.
Meet great people who can help with product development and packaging; manufacturing and distribution; multiple revenue streams and collaborations; mental preparedness for monumental success; and so much more.
Beyond the jam-packed sessions, this event is ideal to meet partners, collaborators and even clients!
8th Annual Kentucky Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference 
June 1, 2012, Louisville, KY
The Annual Kentucky Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conference (8th KIEC) will bring together distinguished speakers, tech-based economic development practitioners, researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, students and postdoctoral fellows.
The conference will focus on growing local initiatives powered by science and engineering talent.
The Inc. Leadership Forum 
June 6-8, 2012, Miami
The Inc. Leadership Forum brings together the knowledge and experience of industry experts, academics, seasoned entrepreneurs and fellow company leaders to share their methods on how to implement leadership strategies that help businesses flourish.
In 2012, the two-day event will immerse attendees in an energizing program with a series of keynote speakers, panel discussions and interactive networking sessions designed exclusively for the unique needs of entrepreneurial leaders. The Forum brings to life the content in Inc. magazine through thought-provoking programming that enables company owners to gain actionable, real-world information to hone their skills and lead their businesses on a path to growth. At Inc.’s Leadership Forum, you’ll learn about innovative approaches, inspirational tools and processes to build teams and workplace environments that have a lasting impact on financial results and personal satisfaction.
CT Business Expo 
June 7, 2012, Hartford, CT
The 2012 CT Business Expo offers free educational seminars hosted by industry elite speakers and trainers. All of the educational seminars will be held in custom built classrooms on the show floor. Four educational tracks include Sales, Marketing, Technology and Management.
Crain’s Tech Talk Live 
June 11, 2012, Chicago
Join us for a moderated conversation and audience Q&A with mobile Internet pioneer Dag Kittlaus, co-founder and creator of Siri, the new voice interaction feature in the popular Apple Inc. iPhone 4S. Dag will discuss his journey to creating one of the more innovative mobile technologies in recent history—a product that took him from Chicago to Silicon Valley and back to Chicago again. In addition to the discussion about working with Apple, Dag will give his perspective on the differences between the Chicago and California technology scenes.
Enjoy drinks, appetizers and lively networking before and after the program.
2012 Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium 
June 11-14, 2012, Reno, NV
Designed by Veteran small business owners for Veteran small business owners, VETS2012 brings government agencies, industry leaders and Veteran entrepreneurs together in a small, intimate forum to discuss the questions you need answered.
Unlocking the Secrets of LinkedIn to Grow Your Business 
June 13, 2012, Online
You probably think of LinkedIn as “that site” your friends and business associates have used in the past to search for job opportunities. But LinkedIn has become so much more.
This webinar, presented by Venture Beat, will explore how LinkedIn can be used to grow your small business.
Investor Feedback Forum and Pitch Showdown 
June 13, 2012, New York City
This event is co-located inside the info360 Conference & Expo at the Jacob Javits Center
The Investor Feedback Forum and Pitch Showdown is designed to:
Help early stage startups refine their investor pitch
Provide helpful, actionable advice on each startups business model from active, early-stage tech startup investors
Demonstrate to the audience how investors evaluate startup pitches
Award prizes to the most viable startups, based on audience and panel voting.
The three winning startups are automatically invited to pitch to the NY Angels.
TechWeek Conference Chicago 2012 
June 22-26, 2012, Chicago
Connect to mobile innovations, new advertising technologies, emerging social media practices, and new apps for managing your business and life. Techweek is the largest technology and innovation conference and expo to put the entire digital ecosytem on stage — in Chicago, an up-and-coming global destination for new technology, with a community eager to harness the spirit of innovation.
National Veteran Small Business Conference & Expo 
June 26-29, 2012, Detroit
The Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting the National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo. As the largest nationwide conference of its kind, this event focuses on helping Veteran-owned businesses maximize opportunities in the federal marketplace. Join nearly 6,000 participants in Detroit for the opportunity to:
Connect with procurement decision makers from other businesses and federal agencies
Expand knowledge through over 200 training and business requirement sessions
Engage with other attendees and gain visibility in the Expo Hall of nearly 500 booths
Use VetGovPartner to facilitate online and onsite networking including face-to-face sessions with senior procurement decision makers
Women’s Business Conference 2012 
October 4-5, 2012, Louisville, KY
This year’s theme celebrates the entrepreneurial, innovative and adventurous spirit of women business owners. They are starting businesses at record rates and running these businesses on their own terms. They refuse to sit idle, waiting and watching. They have confidence and power to shake things up, take smart risks and do things differently to move forward. They are impacting positive change at every turn, speaking out on issues of public policy, lightening their environmental footprint and creating jobs that fuel the economy. They are part of something much greater than themselves—a grassroots movement of women business owners and their community of supporters all dedicated to helping one another grow, thrive, give back and leave a legacy.
The New York Enterprise Report 2012 Small Business Awards 
October 10, 2012, New York City
The New York Enterprise Report Small Business Awards is the annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of the 500,000+ small businesses throughout the tri-state area. Now in its 7th year, the Awards gala attracts more than 400 business owners and executives and is often referred to as “the networking event of the year.” Don’t miss the chance to do business with the “who’s who” of the New York small business community.
To find more small business events, contests and awards, visit the Small Business Events Calendar .
If you are putting on a small business event or contest, and want to get the word out, please submit it through our Events & Contests Submission Form  (it’s free). Only events of interest to small business people, freelancers and entrepreneurs will be included.