Maryland Women's Expo on March 22 to focus on using technology in business

15th annual Maryland Women's Expo and Conference set for March 22

In her 15th year organizing the annual Maryland Women's Expo and Conference, Patsy Anderson will focus on teaching female entrepreneurs the importance of interactivity.

"My message today is this: This is the first day of the next 15 years," said Anderson, who lives in Catonsville.

What was once a progressive event to bring the health and business communities together is no longer, Anderson said.

Now, the exhibition, along with the businesses that participate in the event, must learn to be innovative, in order to stay on top of their game, she said.

"Now what I'm looking at…is being more interactive: how can we be more interactive with ourselves, with our thinking, with our business in ways that no one has thought of yet?" Anderson said.

The event, on the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County on Sunday, March 22, can be a model for business owners, showing ways to use technology to engage their customers, Anderson said.

For example, tickets this year have bar codes that generate links to a online video created for the event, she said.

"It just showing people those technologies exist — it's supporting our theme and bringing everything together," she said. "As business owners, even though customers may not realize it — we're always thinking down the road."

This year, in line with its ongoing approach of combining health and business, the expo's theme will be "The Healthy Get Wealthy and the Wealthy Get Healthy," she said.

The expo moves back to the Catonsville campus at 800 South Rolling Road after being held in Baltimore City last year.

Basic passes for the event on Sunday are $7.

Entry is free for students who bring student identification cards.

Basic passes cover admission to the event from noon to 5 p.m. to view exhibits and presentations.

In addition, for $47, a VIP pass is available which covers a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at Aloft Hotel at BWI and entrance to presentations by keynote speakers on March 22 at the CCBC campus event, as well as admittance to the events covered in the basic pass.

This is the first year the conference and expo will be a one-day event instead of two, Anderson said.

The decision was made because, as Anderson observed, "As we move into the future, people don't have as much time."

This year, approximately 100 business owners will participate in the event. That is fewer than in past years, she said.

The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce will have a booth and some members will also be part of the expo, said Teal Cary, executive director of the Chamber.

Cary said the biggest thing small businesses struggle with is social media management.

"They don't have the time, the staff and the resources it takes to do it and do it well," Cary said.

Anderson said the expo will focus on video marketing this year — particularly how businesses can integrate video into social media.

"You can think of video the way the way that we thought of Super Bowl commercials 20 years ago," Anderson said. "For us to bring video marketing to the Women's Expo this year was a big thing."

Until 2010, the expo was a sell-out event, with more than 200 participating vendors. The popularity of the Internet affected business networking events that serve as a marketing opportunities for business owners, Anderson said.

Anderson said part of her mission is to make small business owners aware of the marketing opportunities available through trade shows, which is often left out of business marketing classes that focus on opportunities available in print, radio and TV advertising.

And while the Internet has led to fewer businesses participating in trade shows, it has also made it easier for those with an entrepreneurial spirit to achieve their business goals, Anderson said.

"Entrepreneurship has never looked better than it does right now. It's amazing, in terms of what we were looking at 15 years ago," Anderson said.

For tickets to the event, go to: https://bitly.com/1EL0H2B

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