After receiving the official email from my SCORE mentor saying “Your Client Is A Champion,” I wanted to scream; I was so excited, honored, and ready to take on the title. Yes, I hold the title of the 2016 American Small Business Champion. The time had come for me to fly to Washington, DC and receive my official crown (and yes, all champions should wear a crown!). The anticipation had been building, and soon the moment that I had been waiting for would be here.

I approached the day of the training with an open mind, certain I would learn a lot and leave with invaluable insight. It was quite an honor and pleasure to receive expert knowledge from SCORE President David Bobbitt and Chief Optimizer Giselle Chapman. It was an amazing experience in itself to be among so many like-minded business owners that also shared a passion for entrepreneurship.

I hope my takeaways can bring value and give you something to think about the next time.

1 – REST TO BE YOUR BEST – Your presenters are experts. They want to share tips with you that can take your business to the next level, so soak it up! Take advantage of this opportunity. You do not get the chance to hear from the SCORE president, sharing his keys to success, just any day. Consider this a once in a lifetime opportunity, so be awake and ready to go.

2 – BE PRESENT, IT’S YOUR MOMENT – Put away everything that could be a distraction to you. Put your phone on vibrate. Let your family members know you are attending this event, and they should not call unless there is an emergency. Take a notebook to jot down key points instead of a laptop. Laptops can take up too much space at the table, and you want to be considerate of others around you. Try to avoid side conversations. Although very tempting, they can take you out of the moment when the presenter is speaking. You may miss the very answer to your question that could make a huge difference in your business.

3 – ENGAGE WITH THE SPEAKER – This is your moment to ask those burning questions you have. Seek clarification; the last thing you want to do is walk away wishing you had asked. If you are not comfortable asking questions in front of a large crowd, find someone at your table to ask the question for you.

4 – BREAK TO MEET NEW PEOPLE – If you haven’t had the time to introduce yourself to other champions, take break time to do so. Work the room! If you are an introvert, use this time to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. If you’re an extrovert, you already know what to do. You never know, making a new friend and gaining a connection could be a lifesaver down the road. It’s all about building relationships.

5 – SEND A NOTE OF GRATITUDE – There is guaranteed value in attending the training (trust me, I know), but now is the time to let your speaker know. Write a meaningful note, taking the time to reflect on what was presented and what you learned from your speaker. This act alone will make you look like a rockstar!

Hopefully what I learned from my experience at the Regional Training and Networking Symposium left you with something to consider during your next business training and networking opportunities. Ultimately, being well-rested and prepared, mentally present, engaging, social, and thankful for your experience will help you get the most out of your training, both during the event and after.