You can find plenty of events for small businesses and startups this summer and fall, to educate yourself and your staff, and to network with your peers. 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!
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
MacTech Boot Camp 
June 27 – Washington, DC
August 7 – San Diego, CA
September 5 – Minneapolis, MN
December 5 – Miami, FL
MacTech Boot Camp is a one day event for those that support the home user, and small business market held around the country. MacTech Boot Camp is a single-track, hotel based seminar that is specifically geared to serve the needs of consultants and techs wanting to serve their base better. This event is geared toward those that already support the home and SMB communities, or that want to become a consultant supporting these areas.
Sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the procurement conference will feature guest speakers from government and business, expert panels and networking opportunities with representatives of federal, state, county and city governments and private corporations. Topics will include business opportunities with governmental organizations and acquiring new contacts.
Afternoon Matchmaking Session features representatives from: GSA, EPA, HUD, WPS, National Science Foundation, Cooper Industries, Rockwell, State of Wisconsin, Veteran Administration.
The Science of Inbound Marketing
July 12, 2012, online
Billions of pieces of data, five years of research, and tens of thousands of readers and attendees in the making, The Science of Inbound Marketing will be the paramount presentation of inbound marketing data, statistics and science. HubSpot’s Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella and HootSuite’s VP Marketing Ben Watson will vanquish any unicorn-and-rainbows myths you may have about how inbound marketing really works and what role social plays in this ever-changing landscape. During this 60 minute webinar, you’ll learn:
How to make marketing decisions based on real data
Ways to leverage your channels for most visibility
How to beat the competition using inbound marketing
New York Launch Party 
July 17, 2012, NYC
Small Biz New York was created by Small Business Expo and Do It In Person as a fun and informative monthly B2B networking event for New York City Small Business Owners. Not your typical monthly networking event, in addition to general meet & greet networking sessions at local bars & restaurants, each month is different ranging from cutting edge business seminars, to business owner luncheons & breakfasts, to Speed Networking & more…all leading up to the annual Small Business Expo.
Sage Summit 2012 
August 12-14, 2012, Nashville, TN
Sage Summit is the premier conference for Sage customers and partners. It’s the destination for learning better ways to leverage the software you already own and know and discovering new technologies. Plus you’ll hear what’s working for other people in your industry and gain insight on how to overcome the challenges your organization faces.
Inc. 500 | 5000 
October 3-5, 2012, Phoenix, AZ
Inc. 500|5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is the must-attend event for the nation’s leading entrepreneurs. Join your colleagues and peers for three days of unparalleled networking and learning from the leaders of America’s fastest-growing companies. This year’s speakers include Captain Mark Kelly, Commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission, Guy Kawasaki, Founding Partner of Garage Technology Ventures, and Marie Tillman, Founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation.
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.
Small Business Influencer Awards Gala 
October 17, 2012, New York City
The Small Business Influencer Awards will honor the Top 100 small business influencer champions at a festive Awards Gala on the evening of October 17, 2012 at the Javits Convention Center. Last year’s event had a capacity crowd at a smaller venue. This year it will be bigger than ever — with the Awards Gala as the evening event at the New York XPO Small Business Conference. Don’t miss this exciting event! See last year’s recap . Meanwhile, be sure to nominate someone for the Small Business Influencer Awards  (perhaps yourself?).
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.