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Networking & honing skills in 2020: small business events & conferences across the UK

21 January 2020 Small Business Advice

With the new year comes new challenges and new opportunities for your business, but we all know that growth rarely comes from the comfort-zone. 

Networking can seem like a daunting prospect, but it’s one of the most important (and cost-effective) ways of marketing your small business to the right audience at the right time. Not only does it introduce you to prospects for new business, but it also crucially allows you to:

  • Practice the way you talk about your product, brand, and business in-front of like-minded individuals  
  • Gain an identity and authority within your field
  • Boost your confidence when meeting new people
  • Learn new industry-leading trends and hacks to apply to your own business strategy

Last year, we put together a list of useful small business conferences across the UK in 2019This year, we’re stepping it up a notch and including skill-based classes for you to expand your knowledge and allow your business take even greater leaps in 2020.

Read on to find out our top tips for UK small business conferences, networking and skills-based training events across 2020.

Social Media For Small Business

When: 22nd Jan, 2:30-4:30pm

Where: City Business Library, Guildhall, Aldermanberry, London, EC2V 7HH

Cost: £10

Ticket: Through Eventbrite here

Social media is an integral part of marketing your small business, and the best part is that social platforms are free tools at your disposal. However, with apps such as Instagram and Twitter changing their algorithms and features as frequently as weekly, it’s hard to stay afloat. 

This two hour session held by Social Media Manager Alison Cresswell from Lewisham Lowdown not only gives an overview of Instagram Facebook and Twitter, but you’ll also come away with a robust social media strategy and new sense of confidence when implementing your new social plans.

Pricing Strategy For Small Business

When: 22nd Jan, 2:30-4:30pm

Where: City Business Library, Guildhall, Aldermanberry, London, EC2V 7HH

Cost: £10

Ticket: Through Eventbrite here

This event is tailored for businesses who are still in early infancy and need some industry-guidance on how to create a competitive but profitable pricing strategy based on real data insights, rather than haphazard guesstimates.

Grow My small Business Networking Event 2020

When: 28th Jan, 7-9pm

Where: The Green Room, 18 St Margaret’s Green, Ipswich, IP4 2BS

Cost: £10.50

Ticket: Non-members can buy a ticket here

If you have any local business in Ipswich or the surrounding area, why not head over to the Ipswich Means Business networking event designed to introduce local small business owners casually to share ideas.

This event is recommended for those that are new to networking or feel put-off by the prospect of forced bonding, as there is no pressure for attendees to speak in front of large groups of people.

Love Business EXPO

When: 27th Feb, 9:30-3:00pm 

Where: Holywell Park Conference Centre, Loughborough, LE11 3GR

Cost: Free visitor tickets 

Ticket: Book to attend as a delegate here

One of the bigger conferences and a trade show with small and medium businesses exhibiting, Love Business EXPO gives exhibitors the opportunity to bring in new leads with a booth, find new partners and learn new expertise with interactive talks, roundtables and keynote speakers.

The Enterprise Network: Beautiful Data, What’s Up With GDPR 

When: 4th March, 10-12am  

Where: Workshed Swindon, London Street, Swindon, SN1 5DG

Cost: Free

Tickets: Through Eventbrite here

From taking customers’ emails for e-receipts to remarketing them, this free workshop held by the Small Business Network in Swindon is the perfect place to brush up on your knowledge of new UK data laws and legislation. Alongside the keynote presentations, expect time for some early morning networking with peers.

Northern Business Expo

When: 17th-18th March, 10-4pm

Where: Manchester Central 

Cost: Free with application

Tickets: Register here

The biggest business event in the North of the UK, the Northern Business Expo is a yearly event in Manchester city centre, bringing thousands of business owners, startups, professionals and entrepreneurs under the same roof. This exhibition is great for business owners who are looking to scale up, network, and take part in workshops run by the experts at Google Digital Garage.

The Good, Bad and Ugly Of Running Your Own Business: NatWest Seminar

When: 24th or 25th April, 12-1pm 

Where: London Job Show W12, Ariel Way, London, W12 7GF

Cost: Free

Tickets: Register here

As part of the London Job Show, NatWest are doing a series of conferences on what it takes to run a business and the mindset that is required. In this talk, Georgina Mackey, Entrepreneur Development Manager, talks about having the confidence to put your ideas into action.

Anglia Business Exhibition

When: May 13th, 10-5pm 

Where: Trinity Park Conference & Events Centre,Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, IP3 8UH

Cost: Free

Tickets: Register for tickets here

If you’re based in Ipswich, head over to ABE 2020, a small B2B conference for a diverse range of industries. Tickets are free to attend, but if you’re looking to gain some new leads from event marketing, there are options to exhibit a stall and take part in the keynote talks. 

Expect workshops, talks, networking and even a free goody bag.

Spring Into Business Expo

When: 1st July, 10:30-3:30pm

Where: Charter Hall, Cowdray Avenue, Colchester, CO1 1YH 

Cost: Free

Tickets: Tickets from Eventbrite here

A partnership event between Networking Essex, Global (Heart Radio) and Jump Digital Transformation, this event is one of the largest in the country. 

Mainly a space for both local and UK businesses to expand their reach and showcase their successes, the event will also include talks from notable figures, while also giving guests the autonomy to mingle at their leisure.

Food Entrepreneur Show

When: 8-9 September, 10:00-5pm

Where: ExCeL London 

Cost: Free for visitors

Tickets: See website for ticket registration

The FES is a must for any small or medium business owners within the industry. With keynotes from the likes of BrewDog’s Growth Director and the Sustainability Project Manager of Pret A Manger, this conference will cover a lot of important actionable takeaways for the hospitality industry. 

The show hosts a number of interactive events such as panel shows, sustainability trails, marketing events specifically for the hospitality industry, as well as dedicated networking areas with laid-back drinks and nibbles. 


Putting yourself and your business out there is just the start of your new year of expansion and success. As part of a well-rounded growth and marketing strategy, small business conferences and networking events should feature in your 2020 roadmap so you can keep on top of the latest technology and skills, making your business run smoothly and giving your customers a great experience. 

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