06/17/2014 09:00 am ET

The Ten Top Ways to Maximize Your Experience During a Small Business Training Event

Have you ever attended a small business workshop and noticed people just sitting passively like a spectator? And even worse, after spending hours and sometimes days away from their office, this same small business person then leaves the training event without getting what they paid for. Gone are the days a small business leader can throw dollars out the window and not gain maximum return on their training investment.

In January of this year, I was selected to be a scholar in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. At this time, I decided to step-up my game and raise my level of participation during this training program in order to create the optimal learning experience for me. And with this mind shift, I would be able to develop a growth plan to propel my small business to the next stage.

For those small business leaders that plan on attending training conferences, workshops or become a scholar of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program this year, I suggest the following top ten ways to maximize your experience during a training event.

1. Be open to new ideas and perspectives

Being open to new ideas and different perspectives is the ideal way to learn and grow as a person and in your small business. Creative ideas that spark a new product innovation or provide a glimpse on a new market can come from anywhere and anytime while you are in a training event. These added bonuses are only possible when you keep your eyes, ears and mind open to receiving and subsequently, exploring newfound ideas from other scholars.

2. Punt the words "can't, won't and no" in the rear

Negative energy drains. It also undermines your objective of gaining new insights and information to help your small business grow. No, can't, won't, etc. are contagious and when one scholar says, "No, that won't work or that doesn't make sense or we can't do that in our business." then automatically like a moving river, other scholars begin to hop on board the negative train. Say, "Yes!" and think about new angles and possibilities that can be applied in your small business. When you use this approach often times you see a way to apply the new information in your small business.

3. Be fully engaged

It is a proven fact that for the majority of people learning occurs from active involvement. This is especially true for small business leaders attending training events. Some ways to be fully engaged are to respond to the Instructor's questions, mention different viewpoints, and participate in team exercises that are designed to boost your understanding. Also, playing full-out allows the subject matter to crystallize in your mind, and in turn, enables you to quickly apply what you have learned in your small business.

4. Listen

Treat the material you are receiving as though you are hearing and reading it for the first time. When you do so where you were once blind in your small business, you will see an unfolding of the reality and can view your business from a different perspective. Listen and you will be moved at what you discover.

5. Help other scholars

Assisting other small business leaders to learn helps you increase your knowledge; and this places you in a warm light where the world will return good to you and your small business. "If you help enough people get want they want out of life then you can get want you want." Zig Ziglar

6. Think big! And have a vision

When asked during her seasoned years what was worse than being blind, deaf, and mute, Helen Keller responded to a young reporter by saying, "having no vision." Helen Keller touched the lives of many across the world, visited Kings, Queens and Presidents plus created an environment where millions of persons with disabilities could live a fulfilling life. While you are in a training event, think big and write a vision that when achieved your small business would have created a multitude of jobs and caused your communities' economy to prosper.

7. Keep a journal

While attending a training event that spans several days or months, writing in a journal can be helpful in capturing your truest thoughts and revelations about you as the Leader and your small business. There is no need to be concerned on the length of the entry. The very aspect is getting your ideas, comments, sketches, etc. on paper is powerful enough. Subsequently, once you complete your training event, your journal book becomes a valuable tool during your time of reflection and while experiencing any hiccups as you continue on your path of fulfilling your small business goals.

8. Have fun and laugh -- a lot!

Laughter does the heart and body good. It releases any strains, pressures and anxieties. It is a natural medicine that opens your mind and spirit to receive. So, laugh at yourself and enjoy a laugh with other scholars. Life is meant to be fun.

9. Work like a steam engine

Often times, most persons attending a training event fail to complete the training assignment. They take the workbook to their office and if it makes it inside their office, it then finds a new resting place on the corner of the desk soon to be covered with papers, tablet, and magazines. To truly maximize your experience during a training event and especially, if you are selected as a scholar in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, work like a steam engine. Take in new information like water; heat it up by completing the exercises that same day, and then quickly apply the new information or tools in your small business. This steam engine learning and application strategy allows you to complete your training event with a growth plan or the particular tool you invested in to receive.

10. Be grateful and say thank you

When someone is helping you to grow your small business and to achieve your life's dream then saying, "thank you" to your Instructor or person assisting shows not only respect, but it shows your heart of gratitude. "Gratitude makes the difference in all that you do in life." Dr. John D. Demartini

In closing, I am thankful to have been selected as one of the ten thousand scholars to participate in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. The top ten ways, listed above, maximized my experience in the training program and positioned my company to achieve some early milestones. Since graduating the program in Houston, Texas in May 2014 -- Bradlink's close rate has increased by 80%, and we have been awarded a new Transit project. This along with recently receiving our 8(a) certification through the Small Business Administration has Bradlink on track to hit targets outlined in our 5-year growth plan including job creation and added contributions to our economy.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.