Small Business Expo 2012

Posted By Brie Austin In Category: Business , Reviews
Small Business Expo was different sort of event.I knew it even before I entered while crossing 7th Ave walking towards the entrance.  It was located in the Penn Plaza Pavillion [connected to the Pennsylvania Hotel] across from Madison Square Garden in New York City.As I approached I couldn’t help notice — to the left of the entrance — a guy dressed in khakis, a button-down shirt and tie, happily dancing in a full display window that faced the street.  There were two windows actually, both framed with the Small Business Expo branding. In the other was a young girl — dressed in the same khakis, button-down shirt and tie.  She was dancing “happily” too. It set a “happy” mood before I even stepped inside.Moving passed the registration and other info desks — thanks to my badge being available for print online –, the well positioned staff pointed me up the escalator to the exhibit hall. SME staff was everywhere, whether to give directions, answer questions, or just provide a smile and some small talk.The Pavillion was an assortment of enclaves that were inter-connected for easy traffic flow, but also gave one a more intimate feel about the space. I went left and immediately stumbled upon the Cyber Cafe, hosted by GoDaddy.com, where they provided chairs and tables to relax, eat, drink and/or network, and also five tables with laptops for attendees to use.

There was an ongoing presence of roaming giveaways throughout the exhibit hall, including vitamin water and 5-hour energy drink, for example, in addition to all the expected booth giveaways — ranging from simple candy to products and services. And I enjoyed my first Jamba Juice near the Cyber Cafe.

This was a very well planned and executed expo.  It consisted of the (a) Exhibit Hall, (B) Cyber & Networking Lounge, (C ) Six different Speed Networking Sessions, (D) Taste of New NYC Business Catering Pavillion, (E) Workshops/ Seminars, and a (F) Networking After Party.

It was a full immersion event to stimulate attendee engagement, and it produced a great turnout, stimulated engaged attendees, had a wide variety of resources and opportunities, and it was FREE! I can’t imagine why anyone in business wouldn’t attend this each year.

People attend business expo’s for many reasons, searching for different things. However, serendipity can often play a part in the success of a business. And events like these can provide the circumstance to make a great connection with another attendee or exhibitor, and/or stumble upon a service you hadn’t thought of seeking out.  The Small Business Expo successfully created an easy, comfortable environment that seemed to stimulated an almost browsing, relaxed and non-rushed feel.

Jacqueline Edwards (Business Pipeline) might say it was initiative that created her meeting up with another attendee following the Q & A of the seminar “How To Ask For & Earn Your Customer’s Business.” And that might be true enough, but it was also caused by serendipitous environment of the expo. While many events bring people together, the one’s done well create an environment where people want to be engaged and connected. And I believe that the intimate spacing, lighting and exhbitot floor layout all contributed to the success of this expo.
In a well-rounded program, there were twenty-plus workshop/ seminars, including the Featured Business Owners Luncheon with NYC commissioner (dept of business services) Robert Walsh, and the Featured Keynote presentation “The 3 Keys to Building Your Million Dollar Business,” presented by Bill Walsh.

While some exhibitors expressed initial reservations that attendees might be pulled away from the floor to attend the seminars, they later said that that never happened; “traffic and engagement has been really great,” Bray at BidSynchtold me. “We didn’t know what to expect at this event. It’s our first time exhibiting here, but I’m very pleased thus far,” he said, echoing at least ten others that I questioned about it.  In fact, some seemed almost giddy with delight.
In the cyber cafe, I was checking email when Nadja Galloway (of Time Equities Inc, an executive suite service 212-206-6017) asked to share my table. Of course she gave me her card, a smile, and a 15-second intro of her business as she ate her pizza.  When I asked her opinion — as an exhibitor — of the expo, she said: “they did a better job this year in the exhibitor layout.”

So I began to wander the floor, and when I saw the U.P.S. rep I approached and challenged her to “tell me something I don’t already know about U.P.S. in 15-seconds or less.” Jeanene didn’t miss a beat: “did you know that with My Choice you can get notified of when to expect delivery, and be able to postpone or reroute that delivery on the fly?”  Did you know that Big Brown was greener than the competition?” I didn’t, admitting defeat with a smile.

All the name-brand exhibitors were there, including FedEx, U.P.S., Intuit, 3M, AT&T, Verizon, CLEAR, various banks,MetLife and other finance and insurance services. But there were also many products and services represented that I have never before heard of, including narrow-niche health care services, new online entries, and FREE government resources.

If you want to learn about your rights, and/or how to handle complaints regarding electric, gas, and telephone services, contact The New York State Public Service Commission. To assure that you and your employees are all legal, use dhs.gov/E-VERIFY. Other services represented include 511NY.org, New York State’s free traffic, travel and transit source, and the department of statistics has all sorts of demographics and other data available for entrepreneurs and small business owners for free.There were plenty of web designers and merchant account services. But also, in the continued growth of video as a marketing tool, I noticed several video production companies that I hadn’t seen at other events, including multi-award-winning Branding Shorts and AndNow Media, and SLP Video & Multimedia,“Entrepreneurs face challenges that only other entrepreneurs get, and can solve,” I was told. The Entrepreneurs Organization, a nonprofit organization, stated that their strong member-base group is not just a loose networking group. “It provides entrepreneurs with ongoing education-based seminars, and a brain-trust of peers that actually help each other overcome short and long-term challenges so that they can succeed.”From everyone I spoke to, the Small Business Expo 2012 was a hit with the exhibitors and attendees alike.  I’ll be doing some follow-up interviews and product/ service articles, so click the Follow Me at Examiner, my Facebook page, Google+ or Twitter to stay informed.

To see a full list of the exhibitors go to their site http://www.thesmallbusinessexpo.com/es_prevexhibitors.html

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About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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