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More Than Free Pens and Tiny Candy: 5 Reasons to Attend the Business Expo

March 28, 2022Megan Dobbs Meeks, Community Foundation of Abilene

Don’t get me wrong; I’ll take the free pens and candy all day long.

Side note: Did I just type Dylanesque song lyrics or the opening line of a blog post encouraging people to attend this year’s Business Expo?

I digress. The point is, there are more reasons to attend Abilene’s Business Expo than the free swag. Whether you’re looking to grow your business, expand your awareness of community resources, explore a new career path, or simply do more to support local businesses, here are five reasons to attend the Expo:

1) Exposure to business and industry trends

To know what we like about our community and where there is room for opportunity, we need to know what’s going on in the business sector. Business Expo brings hundreds of people representing a broad range of industries under one roof to showcase the best of what they offer.

Staying up to speed on industry innovations in our community helps us to know where Abilene is headed in the future. It’s also a great way to gain insights to inform your own business ideas or career path, because you’ll gain a better understanding of what your competitors are doing (competition isn’t a bad thing), what gaps you might be able to fill, and/or what businesses you might want to work for.

2) Finding local businesses to meet everyday needs

The idea of supporting local businesses seems obvious, but it’s also worth repeating – over and over again. Buying local has tremendous and immeasurable benefits, both for the businesses themselves and for those of us who breathe air. Yes, that means anyone and everyone.

We all rely on businesses to provide our food, clothing, shelter, financial services, amenities, and endless creature comforts. Imagine if we all committed to switching to a local vendor to provide even one of these items. The impact on our local economy and, thus, our quality of life would be long-lasting. Local businesses tend to truly care about their customers, because they’re one of us, too. We all call this place home, so when you support local businesses, you’re supporting local families with a vested interest in pouring back into the community.

3) Networking to grow B2B connections and professional development

If you don’t believe in the power of networking, chances are you just want an excuse not to endure uncomfortable small talk with people. Pardon my being so direct; someone needed to say it.

Networking is often the key that unlocks the next business idea, a new business-to-business (B2B) partnership, or your next big career move. There’s ample science (calm down, skeptics) to show that when we expand our webs of association, great outcomes are more likely to happen. You never know whom you’ll meet at the Expo who just might spark the inspiration or provide the opportunity you’re looking for.

And, dare I say, it could also be a great way to find a date? These are, after all, the go-getters and business leaders of our community. Bring some extra business cards, singles!

4) Support your local Chamber of Commerce

Business Expo proceeds support the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Wait you mean the Chamber isn’t fully funded by taxpayer dollars? Nope, it isn’t. The Chamber is a nonprofit organization working to promote and support local businesses to ensure the best quality of life for Abilene. When you attend the Expo, you’re directly supporting the Chamber’s work to enhance our community every day.

5) Free pens and candy

Yes, I made a joke of this at the beginning, but let’s be honest…who doesn’t like free stuff? Many vendors deck their booths with pens, treats, trinkets, and sundry knickknacks for the taking. Grab a bag and load up.

And, for businesses’ sake, please be respectful enough to actually have meaningful conversations with the vendors if you’re going to stock up on their free writing utensils and empty-but-satisfying calories. They spent hard-earned money for those goodies and their booths, and they’re dedicating work hours to be there, so the least we can all do is stop to learn about what they do.
Well, they say good writers bring their stories full circle, and now I’ve done that, so…my work here is done. See you at Business Expo? Your freebies and new opportunities await!

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