13 Lessons Learned From Business Conferences

13 Smart Lessons Learned at a Business Conference You Should Apply to Your Startup

There’s no shortage of business conferences and networking events to attend as a new entrepreneur. These events can be fruitful in their ability to connect you with other like-minded professionals, as well as educate you on a myriad of business topics that are geared to savvy business startups such as yourself. That’s why we asked 13 members of Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC) the following question:

“What one thing have you taken from your experience at a business conference and applied to your startup?”

Lessons Learned at a Business Conference

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

Understand Ice Breakers

“I’ve learned from networking that there are four discussion points that people can talk about when wanting to break the ice: best places to travel, what’s good to do locally, what kind of food they enjoy, and somehow, sports. Being well-cultured in these four topics can help create a common relatable point between parties.” ~ Kenny NguyenBig Fish Presentations

Know When to Listen

“I meet a lot of people at conferences and my favorite thing is listening to their stories. Because of this, I think I’ve become a stronger listener and have applied this to our company. I don’t want a team of “yes” people. I encourage employees to challenge me and ask questions so we feel comfortable around each other and understand one another better.” ~ Syed BalkhiOptinMonster

See Campaigns as Systems

“Think about campaigns as systems. This was a fantastic learning. Instead of looking at marketing efforts from the point of view of a campaign we focused our efforts from a total system perspective. By making this shift we were able to look at strategic gaps instead of one-off directions.” ~ Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

Learn Shortcuts

“One of the best things I heard at a conference was how to dramatically speed up my learning for business growth. When there’s a new marketing or sales effort you’re experimenting with for the first time, find five proven experts in that field and pay for one hour of their time. One or two will accept the offer, and you’ll get a private lesson from one of the best in that area.” ~ Ruben GamezDocsketch

Be Prepared

“The best conference presentations are those that are exceptionally well prepared, delivered crisply, and have clear takeaways. I realized that a lot of our meetings at work and, yes, my “presentations” to the team — were done on the fly. We’ve started to be more rigorous in structure and expected quality. Now attendees get the important takeaways in less time.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Passport

Learn to Empathize

“If you’ve seen a great networker at a conference, you know the power of empathy. The best networkers talk to dozens of people a day, but make everyone feel like they’re the only one. They focus, empathize, and exude warmth. I have tried to apply the same strategy to my company’s interactions with each customer — every customer is an individual, not a name in a database.” ~ Vik PatelFuture Hosting

Master Email Marketing

“I had always thought of email marketing as sending newsletters. Then, I attended the eCommerce Fuel conference last year and I learned that email marketing can generate higher returns than advertising on Google and Facebook. Email marketing is not about “sending out newsletters” anymore, tools like Klaviyo have changed the space completely. Today email marketing is responsible for 10 percent of my sales.” ~ Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

Learn to Get People’s Attention

“You get immediate attention when you address a person by their name. They’re instinctively committed to giving you at least one second of their attention. It’s up to you to use that second creatively!” ~ Patrick BarnhillSpecialist ID, Inc.

Seek Innovation Over Expertise

“One thought-provoking point I heard from a small business conference was that expertise can in many cases be the enemy of innovation. Many of the great industry disruptors have entered their industries without a great deal of experience, and this inspired me to take more chances on people without as much experience. Who knows; maybe I’ll find the next Nikola Tesla!” ~ Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA

Focus on Being Concise

“The worst conference lectures are filled with too many facts and are boring. In business, you need to engage, give simple-to-digest information and move on. Some people seem to speak for their benefit, not for those they are lecturing to.” ~ Marc LoblinerTigerFitness.com and MTS Nutrition

Pay Attention to Details

“Whether it’s presentations, conversations, or product demonstrations, it’s immediately obvious who pays attention to small details and polish. The most inspiring entrepreneurs care about every feature. I try to apply the same focus to creating products that are better than they need to be. Most customers won’t see the details, but they do see the overall quality and understand how much we care.” ~ Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

Continue the Journey of Learning

“Business conferences have taught me that there’s always something new to learn in any industry. After every conference, I leave with new information that helps me in my business. By promoting conference attendance to employees, they are also able to further their knowledge and expertise in their specific role. Business conferences have been positive for me and I’ve passed that on to my team.” ~ Dave NevogtHubstaff.com

Always Seek Great Talent

“I have met some great people at these conferences that now work with our company. I hired them on the spot because I knew they would fit, and I needed to fill those skills gaps. It may not always be that immediate, but at least it’s ground zero for finding some great talent.” ~ Zach BinderBell + Ivy

Business Conference Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

2 Reactions
  1. Business conferences can teach you a lot about building relationships. It is about learning to approach people and sustaining the conversation by listening to them.

  2. Great tips! Being observant, listening, & empathy are necessary in all aspects of life!