Where else can you connect with thousands of local business leaders, build your brand awareness for the cost of a business card, meet face-to-face with potential partners and celebrate San Luis Obispo’s business community, all while being home in time for dinner and the comfort of your own bed?

The SLO Chamber’s annual EXPO at the Expo is heading back to the Alex Madonna Expo Center on Wednesday May 10, with the doors opening at 4 p.m. and closing at 7 p.m. We’ve bumped up the start time to give employers the opportunity to bring the entire team to wrap up the workday generating new leads, introducing your employees to the community and reinforcing relationships with your current customers.

With that said, lets dispense with the list of the top five reasons to attend EXPO at the Expo.

1. It’s all about Community
Building relationships is one of the Chamber’s core values and Expo is one of our favorite ways to bring people together to cultivate a sense of connection and belonging.

“Is there any better feeling than realizing that you’ve “found your tribe”?! Those people who are doing what you’re doing, who understand the hurdles and the triumphs better than anyone else in your life, and who are going through exactly the same things as you’re going through at any given moment?  When you get to surround yourself with successful people who are doing what you’re doing, the energy you feel is thrilling. You’re pumped, you’re inspired, you’re anxious to get back to your desk and make amazing things happen in your business! I can’t stress enough the power that this has.” – Startup Fashion

2. Networking
It’s a classic for a reason, and this old school pillar is still king in business success – especially in a small community like ours.

“Speaking of relationships, don’t limit your interactions to just potential vendors. Most trade shows provide plenty of time for attendees to network with each other, and for good reason. Often, the biggest insights come from the people who share your goals and interests – a conversation with another retailer might lead to new ideas, or even new partnership opportunities.” – Retention Science

3. Face-to-face interaction
With the advent of email, text messages and social media messaging, the art of the face-to-face conversation seems to be getting lost. And with the prevalence of these electronic communication avenues in business relationships, face to face meetings are more powerful than ever.

“When it comes to influencing a decision, nothing can compete with face-to-face interaction. Trade shows provide opportunities to engage with current customers and attendees. It doesn’t matter whether you’re marketing a service or selling your new product, an in-person presentation and short question based conversation afterwards can help you to close the deal quickly versus an email sharing the latest sales promo.” – Business 2 Community

4. Marketing
The Expo levels the marketing playing field. Locally owned small business or multinational corporation, every exhibitor has access to every attendee and vice versa. Whether you are exhibiting or attending everyone has a chance to grow their brand.

“Organizations and their marketing departments are always looking for opportunities to expand their brand and build awareness. Either as an attendee or as an exhibitor, there are numerous ways to get the brand in front of existing or new customers. Certainly as an exhibitor, there are methods of connecting the brand with the trade show visitors like booth design, booth placement, advertising and others. As an attendee, there are also ways to connect the brand and make it visible through wearing company attire, hosting a training session during the event, sponsoring an organization and others.” – The PRIME Factory

5. Compare and source products and services
Studies show that there is no better place to learn about new local companies and discover potential business partners that could provide a service than at an Expo. You will not only be receiving great service but also supporting a local business.

“In a survey conducted by Skyline Exhibits and EXPO Magazine, 91 percent of retailers said trade shows are essential for comparing products and meeting suppliers. You have the chance to speak with vendors one-on-one about their products to find the best fit for what you need. Plus, don’t underestimate the power of face time with suppliers – trade shows are a good way to develop relationships.” – Retention Science