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Getting The Most Out Of Live Business Events


Business conferences are a great way to expand your professional network at refresh your perspective on your business. Deciding to attend and preparing for a business conference sometimes involves a bit of work, whether or not one frequently attends business events. This article will take a look at three of Middle Tennessee’s major business events, and, ideally help you make a decision about which one is the best value for your admission ticket dollar.

Before we jump into a discussion of specific business events, let’s consider why one should attend a business conference or convention or summit. After all, business events take time and cost money. You have to decide whether the benefits of attending an event are worth the cost.

Opportunities to Add to Your Education

The world is rapidly changing around us. Education is more than a degree in a frame on your office wall—it is a life-long commitment to learning. There are some educational benefits only available in a live, face-to-face environment. Watching and learning from visual cues, reading body language of presenters, and sensing the tone of the over-all atmosphere of a presentation give audiences an opportunity to absorb the information presented in ways that just cannot be simulated online or in a podcast or e-book. Attending live business events promote your business education in ways that simply are not available through other media.

Marketing to Potential Clients

Good business events are all about the benefit to the attendees. Even so, attending a business event as a vendor or sponsor will afford benefits from educational opportunities and in-person networking activities, while also providing to your ideal customers and clients valuable awareness of your company’s products and services.

Direct marketing and promotion to your ideal customers and clients who are already in a mindset conducive to learning, networking, and professional development is nearly impossible to get any other way. Plus, you will have opportunities to conduct market research and learn more about your ideal customers and clients while interacting with them face-to-face.

Face-to-Face Expansion of Your Professional Network

When you attend a business event in person, you have an opportunity to rub elbows with colleagues, professionals, and business leaders. Business events are excellent occasions to make connections and collaborate with, and learn about your peers. Not only do attendees have the chance to network with each other, they also gain access to presenters. Asking presenters questions, sharing ideas with them, and expanding on what was presented in Q&A sessions or conversations after the presentation are informal connections that can be made during or between break-out sessions—connections that are nearly impossible to make any other way.

Competition Recon

If your competition will be attending because it focuses on information that will help them improve their business, products and services, shouldn’t you do the same to avoid giving them a competitive advantage? Live events give you a chance to discover who your competitors are first-hand, to find out more about how they operate, to gather information on their strengths and weaknesses, and to conduct research that will help your business get or keep its competitive edge.

Get Inspired, Recapture Your Passion

The dangers of complacency are ever-present in the rhythmic ebb and flow of your daily routine. Taking time to recharge with a vacation or a personal day here and there can help, but even after you return to work, returning to full-strength productivity can take time as you readjust to your work environment. Using a business event to break up your humdrum daily routine can be tremendously valuable, because you continue to be productive even as you take a step back from your usual tasks. Switching from an office or similar environment to a collaborative and information-rich environment can boost your creativity, inspire you to cultivate and implement new ideas and to think in unexpected ways

Perhaps beyond mere inspiration, taking time to recharge and reflect on what works and what could improve can give you the perspective you need to remember why you started doing what you do. Remembering why you love your career can energize you as you return to your core principles with rededication and a toolbox full of ideas you picked up at an informative, inspirational live business event.

A Few Choices

When it comes to live business events that are (1) in Nashville every year and that are (2) open to the public, and (3) require no membership in any association or organization to attend, there are surprisingly limited options for professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, and business decision-makers. Of the three events listed below, only the TN Commerce Summit meets all three of the above criteria.

Here is the information on the three major business conferences in Middle Tennessee in 2014-2015. I hope this helps you decide which one provides the best opportunity for you to add to your business education, expand your professional network, keep an eye on the competition, market to your ideal clients, and get inspired.

2015 NERVE Conference

In 2015, the NERVE Conference produced by The Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) – for entrepreneurs only – is coming to Nashville, according to the EO Nashville blog. In addition to global dues in the amount of $1,700 (per year) and a one-time $800 initiation fee, EO has some relatively strict membership qualifications.

“Membership in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is by invitation only.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be the founder, co-founder, owner or controlling shareholder of a company
  • Hold one of the above titles for a company that grosses more than US$1 million annually
  • For venture-backed companies to qualify for membership they must have privately raised funds of US$2M or publically raised funds of US$5M, and 10 full-time employees. Venture backed companies have three years before they must meet the standard qualification of US$1M in gross annual revenue.”

The NERVE conference is in a different city each year, is open only to EO members, and requires membership in EO to attend. So, NERVE, while great for EO members, may not be the best choice for the average professionals or business decision-maker.


This year, GROWCO, “a three-day event for entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to achieve sizable growth within their organization,” came to Nashville for May 20-22 at the Omni Nashville Hotel. Early Bird Discounted Tickets were available for $595.00 and Standard Tickets were $895.00.

In 2011, GrowCo launched in Las Vegas, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. In 2012 and 2013, GROWCO was in New Orleans. In 2014, it was in Nashville. Where will it be in 2015? While tickets were available for sale to the public, the high price tag certainly set the tone for who would be there. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, dropping nearly $900 for a single ticket is often a hard decision.


The TN Commerce Summit is going to kick off National Small Business Week on May 9, 2015 at Nashville’s Music City Center.

The TN Commerce Summit is an (1) annual event, (2) in Nashville, for which your business (3) does not have to join, subscribe to, sign up for, or otherwise be a part of any other service, organization, chamber, or association. The TN Commerce Summit will be in Nashville every year, with satellite events in other Tennessee cities, as logistics and funding permit. No attendee has to do anything other than purchase a ticket in order to attend the Summit.

Early Bird tickets cost $199.99; Standard price for a ticket is $249.99; and Late Registration tickets will cost $299.99, making even its most expensive ticket less expensive than GROWCO’s Early Bird Discounted ticket. Why? Because the Commerce Summit Company wants people to attend the Summit who need the information presented!

Eventbrite - 2015 TN Commerce Summit

The 2015 TN Commerce Summit will focus on important business topics centered around improving businesses’ operational stability and accelerating growth. Speakers from the Better Business Bureau of Middle TN, local universities, and other business leaders will present information-packed, inspirational 9-minute Power Talks; lead hour-long break-out training sessions; and participate in exciting panel discussions. Tennessee’s state motto is “Agriculture and Commerce” and the TN Commerce Summit is the live business event Tennessee deserves.

Commerce Summit Company, L3C is the company in charge of organizing and producing the TN Commerce Summit. Commerce Summit Company, a social enterprise firm, is organized as a low-profit limited liability company, because, as a social enterprise, its mission is more important than just maximizing the number under the bottom line. L3Cs are uniquely structured to be able to bring together a mix of foundations, trusts, DAFs, endowments, pension plans, individuals, corporations, nonprofits, governmental entities and others in order to achieve social objectives while operating according to for-profit metrics. Just like any LLC, an L3C has the liability protection of a corporation and the flexibility of a partnership. In the interests of full disclosure, you should know the author of this article is the founder and President of the Commerce Summit Company.

Where you spend your live business event budget can make a huge difference in your return-on-investment for those expenditures. I hope this article has helped you make a decision that has a positive impact on that R.O.I. Feel free to sound off in the comments and let me know of any other great Middle Tennessee live business events open to the public I may have overlooked!

About Noel R. Bagwell, III, Esq.

    Noel R. Bagwell, III, Esq.

    Noel R. Bagwell, III, Esq. is an attorney and the founder of ExecutiveLP® a business law firm for start-ups and small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). Noel is also the National Center of Preventive Law‘s Leader for Start-Ups and Small Businesses.

    A graduate of Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, AL, Noel distinguished himself by earning the 2010 Scholar of Merit award for his academic performance in Economic Analysis of Law. He has since won multiple awards for pro bono legal service, much of which has been provided to veteran entrepreneurs in Middle Tennessee and beyond. He also has extensive experience as a public speaker and Continuing Legal Education (CLE) instructor. 

    NOTICE: The opinions and ideas expressed in this article are solely the opinions of the author, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the website on which they have been published. Nothing in this article should be construed to be “legal advice.” No attorney-client relationship results from the consumption of this media material. Please contact an attorney if you need legal counsel.

    This article was written by Noel Bagwell for, and is intended only to inform the general public of the author’s opinion. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of any government agency, company, corporation, or individual.

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