Creating the perfect trade show stand can give your business a real boost, in terms of attracting new customers and boosting revenues. But there are a number of common pitfalls you'll need to avoid if you're going to make the best possible use of your advertising space. Here are ten big 'no-nos' for your trade show marketing:

Many conference attendees find it difficult to absorb information that is presented in ways that require them to passively sit and listen, as is the case in traditional talks. Active learning, which involves using discussion and activities to assimilate information, has been used in schools for some time, and is beginning to become part of the conference environment.

Active learning offers a variety of benefits, such as ensuring that the events at the end of the day aren’t full of people who are bored or who have already been overloaded with information.

Trade show attendance can have a transformative effect for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it has been claimed.

In an article for Fresh Business Thinking, Aura Print claimed that such events offer a valuable marketing opportunity for growing companies.

Work is stressful. No matter what job you're in, this will almost certainly be true. The pressure faced by a chief executive might differ from that of a customer assistant at a fast food restaurant, but it will still be felt strongly by both parties. It has become an inescapable aspect of modern life, and one that employers need to take action against.

At the end of the day, stressed workers are not nearly as efficient at their jobs as happy ones. While some people thrive under mild pressure, most will find they are only able to keep this up for a short amount of time before caving. While your employees are worried and overwhelmed, their work will usually end up suffering.

Training your workforce is something that most businesses understand is a necessity. However, many view it as a chore - something that takes employees away from their daily tasks, and therefore impedes productivity. This view has led to many companies seeing the process as a one-off incident that can then be forgotten about.

However, simply training your workers in an aspect of the business once and then leaving it is foolish. The rapidly changing nature of most workplace skills means that if you don't keep everyone up-to-date on the latest developments, your business could become bloated and inefficient, falling behind its competitors.

What's the first thing you are going to do when you get to a trade show? Before you start attracting people over to your stand and making sales, you will need to set it up. This is an area in which many companies fall down, as they are simply not prepared for how troublesome getting everything prepared can be!

If you don't get yourself set up in time, you can really lose out at a trade show. The first attendees will see you as disorganised and be put off coming over and seeing what you have to offer. Meanwhile, you will be stressed out and panicked all day, further affecting your overall success!

To give away or not to give away? That is the question. Everyone likes a freebie at an event or tradeshow, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing to do. Yes, there are merits to handing things out, however, you must ensure that it makes sense for your business and that it’s something that will actually add value to your operation.

Budget will also play an important role in deciding whether or not to hand out take away gifts at your stall. Before you spend half of your event money on humorous gimmicks, think to yourself “will this be better spent elsewhere?”

Delivering training can be nerve-wracking sometimes. You have to get up in front of a group of your peers and attempt to teach them something that many will think they know already. Keeping them engaged while making sure you are imparting all the information they need to know can be a struggle.

If you are taking a session for the first time, here are a few of the things you will need to bear in mind to make sure it goes off without a hitch:

What do you look for in your managers? Some people like to think their bosses will be easygoing, authoritative, or think a sense of humour is the most important trait they can have. However, the general consensus is that there is one skill that is vital when it comes to effective management: communication.

Being able to easily express what needs to be done, delegate jobs clearly and uncover important information as soon as it is needed all comes under the umbrella of effective communication. These are all qualities you would associate with a good manager.

When getting ready for a trade show, there are plenty of things you will already have on your packing list. After all, no one would set off without their promotional material, samples or a demonstration model of their product.

However, there are a few useful items that a lot of people seem to forget. As you’re getting ready, here are some of the most common items people wish they had remembered.

Making your first approach is often the part of networking that people find most nervewracking. It can help to practice introducing yourself with a friend. “Hi, I’m [name], [position] at [company]!” and a firm (but not crushing) handshake is a good start.

On the day, a few deep breaths while you remind yourself of your opening can work wonders. If you garble or misspeak, take the opportunity to laugh at yourself. Laughter is infectious, so it becomes an instant icebreaker.

Visiting a conference might not seem like a particularly gruelling task, but you will be surprised by how tiring it can be. You might find yourself on your feet for hours at a time, and when you are sitting down you will be exercising your mind as you try to keep up with taking notes and absorbing the content of one of the many panels.

It's hardly equivalent to running a marathon, but all the little activities add up and by the end of the day you might find your eyelids drooping! Obviously this means you will not be getting the most out of your conference. So how can you prevent yourself from being tired out on the day?

Meetings have a valuable role to play in business, but it's important to ensure they are productive. Too many man hours are wasted in meetings which drag on unnecessarily or should never have been organised in the first place.

If you're going to remove employees from their desk - and their workload - for any period of time, you have to have good reason. Your meetings need to offer a return on investment; otherwise how can you justify disrupting your employees' day?

Organising a trade show costs money, and sometimes significant amounts of it, depending on the size and scale of the event.

As an organiser, you may well make the original investment back with relative ease - and turn over a profit - but it's important to ensure costs are covered as soon as possible.

Hosting a Wi-Fi hotspot at your conference or trade show can make for a more successful event for all concerned.

With so many people reliant on their smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, people expect to be able to get online wherever they are.

As an employer, you fully understand the importance of training, and of delivering key information to employees in order to improve their knowledge and understanding.

But sometimes it seems as if your staff members simply aren't engaged with your learning and development exercises. And given that you've invested time and money preparing training, with a view to boosting employee performance, this simply won't do.

Where would you hold a national conference? If you have delegates travelling from all over the country, this can be a tricky decision. Many people would say London as the easy answer, simply because it is commonly seen as the most important city in the UK. However, that does not necessarily mean it is the best place for a conference.

Increasingly, companies and other organisations are looking to host events in the area of Birmingham. This might not be most people's first guess, but on close inspection the city and its surrounding area have a huge number of advantages for those looking to hold a conference.

It costs money for businesses to run training sessions for their employees.

As well as the cost of hiring facilities, paying for specialist instructors and provisioning the required training materials, there are also the lost man-hours to contend with. If employees are in training rather than getting on with their jobs, this can have an impact on productivity in the short term.

What could be worse than organising a fantastic trade show or exhibition at no small cost and finding that hardly anyone turns up?

If you've done your research properly, this nightmare scenario is unlikely to materialise. However, if you forge ahead without gauging demand, you could be left with egg on your face.

Not every business is alike, so when you go to a conference you will generally find that people are approaching every problem from a different perspective. This can be great for varied and interesting discussion, but every so often you will find that you need help thinking about how a certain session will benefit your company.

Taking someone along means you will be able to discuss things with a focus on your firm, or at least the sector your work in. This way, your conference experience will be tailored more around your company and will therefore be more relevant to you.

If you are organising a major event - such as an exhibition, conference or trade show - one of the most important aspects of the planning process will be the risk assessment.

You need to ensure there is an exciting programme of events, and that high-profile organisations are in attendance, but your first priority has to be ensuring the safety of everyone on-site.

Planning a conference is not usually an easy task. There are a lot of things you will have to consider, which can be intimidating if it is the first time you've organised such an event. When it comes to choosing a venue, there are a number of things you should be thinking about, many of which are easy to miss.

Here are some of the things you need to make sure you take into consideration when it comes to choosing a venue for a conference:

Have you ever had a trade show that was a failure, but without any clear reason why? It could be that you had very few people come over to your stand, or that the people who did talk to you rarely ended up making a purchase. Often, this is because you got one thing wrong: your positioning.

This seems like a very tiny part of a successful trade show experience, but it is actually incredibly important. Where you sit or stand plays a large part in how approachable you seem, as well as whether you come across as relatable or distant to the attendees. So, where do you usually position yourself?

Networking is a key part of most conferences, but it is also the most difficult aspect to pull off successfully. It's simply not something many people are all that good at, unless you have spent a lot of time at a lot of events getting to know strangers.

The main thing that most people get wrong is not a small thing, such as your body language, your small talk or how polite you are. Instead, it is the larger goal that most networkers forget. Essentially, very few people actually understand why they are networking in the first place.

The first ever Expo Midlands event at Cranmore Park proved to a be a huge success, with hundreds of delegates attending and a follow-up event already in the calendar.

More than 60 exhibitors and 500 delegates descended on Cranmore Park for the free event on June 17th, which was headlined by two familiar faces, including one local man who has made it big in the media world.

Knowing who to target at trade shows increases your chances of turning leads into new customers, it has been claimed.

Lew Hoff, president at Bartizan, urged exhibitors to define who they want to speak to and then target them specifically.

One of the keys to staging successful meetings which offer maximum value to your organisation can be knowing which approach to adopt.

According to Nancy Duarte, author of the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, different meetings require a different strategy from the outset.

If you're hoping to enjoy a successful trade show, you've got to ensure your booth or stand looks as professional as possible.

In order to give the right impression to attendees - the people you hope will become your customers following the event - you've got to achieve the right set-up.

Most businesses have a list of company values that define what kind of organisation they are. These tend to vary wildly from company to company, but one that often remains a constant is 'teamwork'.

While many CEOs might like to think they built the business from the bottom up all by themselves, in actual fact most firms would crash and burn without a dedicated team of employees ready and willing to work together. If your business is full of people who don't work well together, your productivity and general employee motivation will drop rapidly.

At any trade show or exhibition, there are good booths for advertising your products and services, and there are great ones.

Ideally, you want to tie down one of the latter - some prime 'real estate' at the event where you are prominently-placed and guaranteed footfall.

Have you ever looked over your conference notes? Every time you attend a panel or seminar, you will almost certainly be covering page after page with text, trying to sum up what each speaker is saying. However, these are no good if you don't go over them afterwards.

You will struggle to retain much information if you do not use your notes to jog your memory. However, the main problem many people have at this stage is time. In a busy week, can you spare an hour or two to go over your notes and revise what you learnt at your last conference?

If you're organising a business conference, you want the event to be the very best it can be. But how can you make it a great conference, as opposed to a merely good one? You want people to be competing for places at the conference next year, and this means providing a great experience and developing a positive reputation for the event. Here's how you can deliver a great conference and ensure it becomes a hot topic of conversation in your industry sector:

If your business is anything like the majority of UK companies, your workforce probably consists mostly of younger employees. However, these are kept in line by a range of older workers who have been with the firm for a long time, and are therefore able to share their expertise and skills.

Maturity, therefore, can be a valuable asset for a business. However, it is one that is certain to go away at some point as your older employees leave to advance their career or retire. Ideally, you will want most of your workforce to be older, but this is not possible. Most new workers will be younger and need to learn the ropes of your industry.

It's bound to happen to you sooner or later: you go to a conference, full of enthusiasm, but are let down by one appalling session. Maybe it was unhelpful, told you misleading information or was just unbelievably dull! You can laugh about it later, but while you're in the session what do you do?

You can always get up and leave, of course; you will find that the vast majority of sessions at any conference will be helpful to you. However, if that is not something you are comfortable doing then it is good to know how to deal with a bad presentation as a member of the audience. Here are a few tips:

Digital marketing can help businesses maximise their return on investment (ROI) at trade shows, it has been claimed. Writing for Crain's Cleveland Business, Fathom's online advertising specialist J.J. Anderson explained how the internet can be used to companies' advantage and complement their exhibition strategies.

He claimed that, very often, manufacturers "lag behind" in the digital landscapes, with relatively few fully harnessing the power of online advertising. Anderson offered the view that this is a high-potential area for such companies, providing they are willing to investigate the use of web-based marketing tools.

The UK events industry is in an excellent place at the moment. Conferences, trade shows and other gatherings are being successfully held all around the country thanks to dedicated planning and the use of great venues. However, the government wants to push even harder to make the UK the best country in the world for business conferences.

This bold statement was made by Sajid Jarvid - the secretary of state for culture, media and sport - in a speech he made at the opening day of the World Travel Market on November 3rd. He told attendees of the event that the government will be joining up with the UK events sector.

If you're taking time out to attend a conference, it's important that you make the most of the experience. There's always things that need doing in the workplace, so if you're sacrificing those man-hours to attend an industry event, it's important to gain value from your attendance.

According to speaker and author Michele Lawson, approaching conferences with the right attitude is all-important. Writing for the Huffington Post, she claimed there are two things that can hinder an individual's conference experience. These are the preconceived notion of experience and expectation".

Nobody likes excluding people. However, when you are manning a stall at an exhibition or trade show you will not be able to spend the same amount of time with everyone. You might deal with hundreds of people in a single day, many of whom will want a significant amount of your time.

You might want to be as customer-pleasing as possible and give everyone as much of your time as they want. However, this approach could lead to you losing custom as people looking to talk to you get bored of waiting around and leave your stall. Unfortunately, you need to learn which customers are worth talking to and which you should avoid.

The secret to staff happiness is about much more than money, according to new research which shows that training and development, flexible working and regular company social events are just as important as a pay rise to employees within UK small businesses.

Research carried out by Viking on workplace satisfaction indicated that team building and training are both more important than a pay rise to workers.

Trade shows can be a busy, competitive experience. Everyone there is trying to get attendees to notice their product and visit their stand rather than the ones next to them, which can become a difficult task. It isn't like a local market; you will gain nothing by shouting over people!

Instead, you need to attract people naturally to your stand. This is usually done visually, and display work is a very important part of any trade show. However, ideally you will want to offer attendees something, giving them a reason to visit your stall without having to coerce or persuade them to visit.

n the digital age, organisations are acutely aware of the importance of safeguarding sensitive information and keeping data away from prying eyes. More and more business is being conducted online, making it ever-more crucial that appropriate safeguards are put in place. Data breaches can result in fines for the organisations involved, and also cause reputational damage which has long-lasting impacts for the business as a whole.

So no wonder then that organisations are eager to shore up their defences and minimise the chances of an incident occurring. Technology has a role to play in reducing the likelihood of a breach, but education is equally important. Employees need to know what they can and can't do online, and how their actions over the internet can cause problems for their organisation.

Now that the summer is fast approaching, offices up and down the UK will be facing the same challenge: keeping the workforce cool and comfortable.

Hot, stuffy working environments are not only counterproductive, but they can also have a negative effect on an employee’s health and wellbeing.

If you're looking to stage a conference, event or exhibition, one of the first decisions you've got to make is about location - where is the event going to take place? There may be a number of options available to you, but how many are really suitable for your needs? How can you tell a great venue apart from an average one?

There's a whole range of factors to consider, and you need to weigh up the importance of each as you look for the best possible site. Think about the practicalities of staging your event, the comfort and convenience for your attendees, and the size of your budget among other issues.

Trade shows can be a hard slog at times. You work for a full day, most of which will be spent on your feet, meeting anything from a few dozen to hundreds of people. You will be expected not only to be polite to all of them, but to give your best sales pitch as well. It is no surprise that most people find themselves collapsing on the sofa for a well-deserved rest afterwards!

However, the end of a trade show does not mean you can put it out of your mind. All of the contacts you've made and leads you have acquired will need to be followed up on, which can be hard work; sometimes it's an even tougher job than the original exhibition!

Conferences are a great way to expand your knowledge of your industry. However, many people make the mistake of not making use of the full potential of the gatherings. If you turn up, put in the bare minimum of effort, absorb a few lectures and head home, you will not have taken advantage of a number of important features.

One of the most important aspects of attending a conference is that it brings together people from in and around your field. You might find people from similar firms to your own, your suppliers or your clients are all at the same conference as you, giving you the perfect opportunity to do some networking.

Trade shows are a great way to gain new customers and increase awareness of your brand. However, like anything in the business world, they cost money. You will have to pay out for a number of different things in the course of a show or exhibition, which can end up putting people off going to them.

However, the investment is more than worth it. The money you put into the exhibition will end up leading to more people becoming aware of your company and interested in your products and services. But that doesn't mean you can just splash out and lose track of what you're spending.

The Birmingham area has long been touted as one of the best places for conferences in the UK. Its relatively central location and good travel links make it easy to get to for international meetings, and there are many fantastic conference venues in and around the Birmingham and Solihull area that organisations can take advantage of.

If proof was needed of this, one needs look no further than recent statistics from Birmingham's hotel industry. The sector has seen a major boost in occupancy rates recently, and the number of conferences being held in the city is thought to be why.

If there is one thing that is practically guaranteed to make trade show attendees turn around and leave your stall before you've even had a chance to make a good impression, it's clutter. A messy stand should absolutely not be the first thing visitors see, or they will assume you are unprofessional and sloppy.

You probably know not to have a stall covered in rubbish, but clutter can be anything that is out of place. Even members of staff can make your stand seem messy if they are sitting around bored or finishing off their lunch. If they are not working to improve your image, then they are actively harming it!

With so many different stalls vying for the undivided attention of delegates, making your exhibition space stand out from the rest can be difficult. There many things you can do to give yourself the edge over nearby competitors, some of them more simple than others.

The main principle is putting the effort in. If you build it properly, they shall come. Here are a few tips that will hopefully make your stand the one that people are drawn to first.

Delivering employee training not only helps upskill workers, enabling them to do their jobs properly, but it also assists organisations with talent retention.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that employees stay longer with their employers when they feel like they are developing professionally and their goals are being supported.

This might not be the ideal solution; however it is much better than not sending anyone at all. Your company will still gain valuable contacts and business expertise, both of which will be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, it does mean a bit more work for you.

If you want to get the most out of the conference you are sending people to, you will need to set up meetings before and afterwards, and perform a solid amount of supplementary work. This can be difficult, but the rewards if you do it well are more than worth it as it can give your business a real boost!

If you've got a great product or service to offer at a trade show, members of the public may be interested in placing orders with you on the day.

This is exactly what you're looking for - an immediate boost to revenues and an expanded customer base achieved through direct engagement with consumers.

Every business owner knows that keeping your employees happy with their careers is key to ensuring you have the best people working for you at all times. If you have an unmotivated workforce full of people who are convinced they are stuck in a dead-end job, you will soon end up losing them.

This is rarely a good thing. A high staff turnover looks bad for your company, discouraging the most talented people from applying for a job there. When you employ somebody with the potential to have a huge positive effect on your firm, you want to ensure they stick around rather than jetting off to another business.

Conferences are great places to learn more about your area of business and improve your skillset. However, they are also one of the best places to network. You will be in the same place as the top people in your industry for an entire day, so it is important to make the most of this opportunity to gain some key contacts.

However, you will be talking to a large number of people at each conference, as will everyone you meet. Under these circumstances, it is easy to see how you can struggle to remember people and their contact details. This is where business cards come in.

There are a million different tactics for networking successfully. You have probably read guides telling you how to hand out business cards, give a good handshake, pick out a good contact from a crowd and organise yourself afterwards. While these are all useful tips to bear in mind, often the most important thing you can prepare is your mindset.

Attitude is everything when it comes to meeting potential business contacts. If you've ever had a conversation with someone at a conference that hasn't ended well, and you aren't sure why, often it will be because you simply weren't in the right mindset to begin with. Luckily, this is something you can easily fix.

As a trade show organiser, you've got a certain number of booths to sell to would-be advertisers, and a certain amount of floor space to fill.

If you're struggling to attract interest in the event, filling up the room can prove to be a challenge - the last thing you want to do is have vast areas of the hall unoccupied.

In all the frantic organisation that leads up to a trade show, it’s easy to overlook how you plan to engage with customers once your meticulously planned booth is up and running.

At the most basic level, everyone intends to be friendly and enthusiastic, but there are a few techniques that can help leave potential customers with the best possible impression of you and your brand.

There's much more to conferences than just the programme of events - the workshops, seminars and keynote speakers. They are a convergence of like-minded individuals, who very often have similar backgrounds, experiences and ambitions. As such, conferences offer fantastic opportunities for networking and making valuable additions to your contacts book.

But if you fail to plan properly in advance, you might struggle to make the most of these networking opportunities. Very often, there is a packed programme of events, which leaves little additional time for socialising - particularly if it's only a one-day gathering. You might be eager to rendezvous with certain people, but simply not get the chance.

Modern technology means we no longer have to sit through hour upon hour of seminars and lectures at a conference, doggedly taking notes in the hope that you will retain as much information as possible. You can still do this if you want, of course, but you might find that you struggle to remember what all your notes mean.

Instead, it might be better to record things wherever possible. This has long been a practice at conferences, with people asking friends to take dictaphones into sessions they can't make themselves so they don't miss out on anything. However, it might be a good idea to record the sessions you attend as well.

If you're staging a meeting or training session away from your normal business premises, there's no point hiring a second or third-rate facility. If you're paying for the use of a meeting room, then it needs to be fit for purpose. As well as being equipped with all the necessary furnishings and fittings, it needs to give off a strong, professional vibe. If the meeting room doesn't achieve this, you may as well save your money and use the staff canteen instead.

So what exactly makes a great meeting room? Here are ten must-haves for a facility you'll be happy to use time and time again:

It's an oft-repeated mantra in business that quality is better than quantity. This is especially true when it comes to a trade show. There is really no point in getting dozens or even hundreds of people to visit your stall if you aren't going to see any return on investment for your time.

You are at a trade show to sell your product, not simply to attract the attention of attendees. In some circumstances the best way to do this is to get as many people to come to your stall as possible in the hope that a decent percentage end up making a purchase. However, it often pays to be a bit more targeted.

If you're exhibiting at a trade show, you may well speak to hundreds of different people on any single day. They may all be interesting individuals, people who are interested in doing business with you in the future, but the reality is you can't get to know everybody properly. If you get decent footfall to your stand or booth, there simply isn't the time to have extended conversations with everyone who expresses an interest in your offering.

The fact is that every person who approaches you - or you approach - could be the next potential customer. It won't necessarily be the person you spend 30 minutes talking too, convincing them about the benefits of your products and services. Because however hard you try to make a sale, they still have the right to leave at any point without buying.

If you're staging a meeting or a training session, you'll welcome the opportunity to lay the room out according to the optimum design.

It may be that you need a 'boardroom' set-up, with everyone around one table, or that you require more of a 'classroom' set-up, with chairs and desks facing the front of the room.

If your organisation to benefit from its trip to an exhibition or trade show, you've got to know how to pull the punters in.

You can have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody wants to talk to you, or find out about what you have to offer, you're not going to make any sales.

To many people this might seem like an odd question, but how will people see what you have to offer at your trade show stall if they aren't able to attend the show itself? You might think they have missed their chance, but thanks to the internet they can still be a target market for you.

All you need is a video camera and an internet connection and you can stream your trade show live to an online audience. There are pros and cons to this, of course, but if you prepare well and do everything professionally you might be able to significantly increase your brand exposure.

The key is to pick your sessions carefully. You can't just go to whatever you feel like, choosing sessions at random, unless you want to have a fruitless conference. Instead, you should carefully select the seminars you want to attend based on how much you will get out of them.

Sometimes, this might involve doing a bit of research. For example, look up the people taking each session. They might just be people who know a bit about the topic they're talking about, or they might be published authors and experts in the field. Often this information will be included in the agenda.

One of the most important parts of any trade show or exhibition is setting up. This might seem like an afterthought compared to the actual show, but it is not something that should ever be overlooked. A good setup can make the difference between a professional, well-run stand and one that is stressed and disorganised.

If your setup goes poorly, it is very easy to misplace things. You might end up rushing to get everything together and end up putting something to one side and forgetting about it, or having to forgo an entire section of your stall because you have run out of time and attendees have started coming to see what you have to offer.

Running a training session can be fairly stressful on its own. Unless you are a teacher, most people will have never taught a group of people before. Starting from scratch is a challenge, but hopefully you will rise to the occasion. The problem is when your employers decide your session should be expanded into a company-wide programme.

If you are asked to do this, don't panic! You wouldn't be asked if you boss wasn't sure you were up to the challenge. However, you will need to develop a whole new set of skills to roll out a programme on this scale. You will need to learn a lot before you can even begin to teach!

At a trade show, you will typically find dozens of exhibitors all vying for attention. There are a number of different ways you can stand out from the rest, but one of the simplest - and most effective - is simply to offer some refreshments.

These don't have to be particularly elaborate; after all, most attendees will be able to get a proper meal from the venue's restaurant. But a few little snacks, sweets or drinks will be surprisingly welcome at most trade shows. You could use lollipops, bottles of water or small chocolate bars to achieve this effect.

Only at the most casual of exhibitions should you ever wear jeans. It is always better to look smarter than necessary than it is to look scruffy, so go for something a bit more upmarket. If you don't want to wear a suit, then khakis and a shirt or polo will do.

You should also think about picking out something with plenty of pockets. Your jacket might have a few, but you are going to need all you can get. You will probably be carrying a mini-office around with you in your pockets, so go for practicality over style in this area.

If you're returning to the same trade show or exhibition year after year, it's crucial that you have something new to offer consumers.

It might be the case that you've launched new products or services over the last 12 months and are planning a drive on your most recent solutions.

Leadership development is now the number one priority for HR professionals and senior leaders in the UK, according to a new report which suggests that business cycles and training cycles must be aligned for maximum effectiveness.

In a Right Management study entitled 'Talent Management: Accelerating Business Performance' more than than 2,200 HR professionals and SME owners were polled, with 46 per cent identifying leadership development as the top priority for 2014, rising to 54 per cent in the UK.

Your organisation has organised a meeting, one that involves potential clients, partners or suppliers. The purpose of the get together is to flesh out the terms for a new business arrangement - one that can benefit your organisation. Eager to agree a deal and get the other party to sign on the dotted line, you want to make the best possible impression with them.

This is one of the main reasons you've decided to book a specialist meeting room in which to conduct negotiations. Bringing the other party into your office might not be the best course of action, particularly if you're pressed for space or there is a lot of activity at your business premises. You don't want to give the wrong impression, and put any negative thoughts in the other party's mind.

So you've travelled a few hours to get to a trade show, having spent time planning meticulously for the event in advance. You've arrived in good time to set your stand up perfectly, and made a big effort to look your best. Everything is in place and you're all set for a great day.

Somewhere on the trade show floor will be the high-value customer you're looking for, and if you're lucky, there may even be a few of them. It's just a case of drawing people into your stand or booth and identifying the big leads you may be able to convert.

If you're interested in marketing your business' products or services at a trade show in the coming year, it might be in your interests to commit at soon as possible.

Registering early can help ensure you get the best possible deal, meaning you've got more financial resources left over to spend on your booth display and promotional materials.

The use of technology can make a real difference to both exhibitors and attendees at trade shows, it has been claimed. Writing for Business 2 Community, Denise Graziano, chief executive at Graziano Associates, said IT can be used to improve lead generation, sales and the customer experience.

"Technology has elevated the capabilities and levelled the playing field for event planners, exhibitors and attendees," she claimed. However, Ms Graziano said it is not just about lead capturing - it is about the attendee experience before, during and post-show.

When you are at a presentation, lecture or other session at your next conference, you will need to take notes if you want to retain all the information that is imparted to you. However, this is easier said than done. Keeping up with a seminar can be difficult if you have to concentrate on both what is being said and your own writing.

Human speech is surprisingly fast - around 200 words per minute - and nobody can keep up with it if they are writing everything down word for word. Standard handwriting can only reach speeds of 20 to 30 words per minute. Do you think you could understand your notes if you were only able to write down one word for every ten said?

If you can secure a great keynote speaker, you've got every chance of organising a great conference overall. The headline act, who delivers the main address, has the ability to make or break the conference.

If the speaker delivers the goods, there's a greater chance of people going home happy, feeling as if they have got value for money from their trip. But if their address flounders, it's likely to leave a lasting negative impression for everyone in the room. And next year, they might not be so eager to attend.

Almost every presentation ends the same way: the presenter gives their conclusion, turns to the audience and says: "Any questions?" Then, they respond to the queries the audience throws their way. This increases the value of the session, as it means anything people are unsure about can be clarified and expanded on.

However, if you are the one presenting then this puts a lot of pressure on you. It might seem like the onus is on other people to come up with good questions, but actually it is all about how you answer them.

At every conference, trade show and exhibition, you will spend a surprisingly large amount of time networking. This is part of what these events are set up for, after all. They are great opportunities to get to know people in your industry and make valuable contacts that could improve your business and make your job a lot easier!

However, for every useful contact you find to network with, there could be five people who are unfortunately a waste of your time. It sounds impolite, but ultimately if you spend your time talking to someone who is not going to be a useful contact in the future then you may have missed an opportunity to forge a meaningful connection with someone else.

Why exactly would your organisation choose to run training sessions away from your own business premises? This approach adds to costs, as you have to hire a venue - such as specialist meeting rooms or conference facilities - and transport your people to the alternative location. It also increases the amount of time employees spend away from their desks, which can lead to reduced productivity and output on the day.

From a short-term cost perspective, there seems to be a strong case for running training sessions on-site - essentially getting them done without incurring additional costs and then allowing employees to get back on with their work. But if things were so simple, why is it that so many organisations prioritise the provision of off-site training for their people? Why do these companies choose to use third-party facilities in a different location?

You can get a lot out of a conference by simply showing up and putting as much effort as possible into learning and networking. You might think that you don't need to plan out anything, going with the flow on the day so that you can be available for anything that seems interesting to you.

However, while you might have a good conference with this attitude, you will almost certainly end up missing out on several element that you would like to have caught. This is where a schedule comes in handy, to make sure you get the most possible out of the event.

A conference or business event can be exhausting and stressful. You need to spend all day making a good impression and showing yourself to be a knowledgeable, professional and sensible employee. It is no surprise, therefore, that many conferences give attendees a chance to relax and let their hair down afterwards with a party.

This can be anything from an elaborately planned event to a simple trip to a nearby pub. However, no matter how formal or casual it is there are still certain rules you need to abide by. People often forget that a post-conference party is still essentially part of the event, therefore you are still representing your company.

A healthy worker is a happy worker. That is a fairly common maxim, but it is one with a great deal of truth to it. People who are fit and have a good diet are generally happier, which in turn makes them better at their jobs.

In fact, Thomsons Online Benefits managing director Chris Bruce just told HR Magazine: "Employees who regularly exercise are better at dealing with stressful situations and also feel energised. If you do this well customers can feel that energy in their interactions with your staff."

Meetings are a necessary part of every company. However, they can so easily go wrong. One of the main problems many businesspeople have is leaving meetings with the feeling that they haven't really achieved anything. Sometimes, it can seem like you don't know why you met in the first place.

This is generally caused by not having a strong brief or agenda going into the meeting. If you are not 100 per cent sure what your aims are when you get your fellow staff members together then you run the risk of the discussion going around in circles, without ever arriving at a satisfactory conclusion.

In a recent interview with the Express and Star, Jaguar Land Rover operations director Trevor Leeks confirmed his company’s plans for the West Midlands, where it has recently expanded its production capacity. In his words, the organisation plans to be in the area “for generations”.

In light of this reaffirmed commitment to the well-established tradition of automobile manufacturing in the region, it seems fitting that Cranmore Park is becoming an increasingly popular venue for industry events, particularly for trade buyers.

Whether you're conducting a training session or giving a presentation at a conference, stepping in front of an audience can be incredibly nerve-wracking. With a sea of faces staring at you, it is all too easy to feel like nobody is listening and your speech is falling flat, even if that is not the case.

We all want to make an impact with our presentations. However, doing so can be difficult. You certainly don't want to end up staring into your notes and stammering your way through an embarrassing performance! You need to impress your audience, which is easier said than done.

What's the point in getting to know consumers at trade shows if you never hear from them after the event? If you spend time talking to people at your stand or booth, trying to convince them to become a customer, you've got to do all you can to connect with them in the future.

Not everybody will buy goods or services from you immediately. In many cases, people like to take their time to think about purchases. They might like what you have to say, and find your business offering engaging, but prefer to let the dust settle and contemplate making an order in their own time.

So you're running training sessions, but your employees don't seem to be taking the information onboard. What can you do to make your learning and development programmes more effective, ensuring employees gain new skills, acquire knowledge and are better prepared to do their job to the best of their ability? Here are eight tips for making the most of employee training:

Conferences and trade shows can offer a multitude of opportunities from a networking perspective. If you're willing and able to put yourself about, and track down the important people in the room, you can add some valuable names to your address book. It could be the leaders of another business involved in your industry, or somebody you'd like to invest in your enterprise. It might be a thought leader, whose insight can add value to your business and help you take it to the next level.

But what you have to remember is that important people also tend to be busy people. You won't, by any means, be the only person who wants to network with them. As such, if you do manage to pin such individuals down for a conversation, you've got to make it count. And this means making a great first impression.

When the time comes to conduct a training session, you need to make sure you have a room ready that will be suitable for everyone. You can prepare a fantastic, comprehensive training session that goes over everything in plenty of detail, but it is all too easy for your preparation to be ruined by a venue that does not have everything you need.

So, what should you be looking for in a training room? Here are some of the most important features your venue should have:

If you're advertising at a trade show or exhibition, you may come across many different types of customer - or potential customer - over the course of the day.

What works for one individual may not for another, meaning your organisation needs to adopt a flexible approach to consumer engagement.

To fix this, it is a good idea to make your conference more interactive. Having your attendees participate in a number of activities will not only more enjoyable, it will also make them feel like they have got more out of the experience. Here are a few different ways you can spice up your next conference with a bit of interactivity:

Before your organisation embarks upon any programme of employee training, it is important that you identify its precise needs. Why exactly are you investing in learning and development exercises for your employees?

When there are specific goals in place, it provides a clear focus for the training. Sessions can be constructed in such a way that targets key aspects of employees' knowledge or understanding, and seeks to improve upon it.

Your company might have a world-class promotional video, which you use to inform people of your business offering at trade shows.

But this isn't a great lot of use if the people visiting your stand can't see the screen, or don't want to watch the clip you have filmed.

As business owners know well, a trade show often represents a significant investment for companies, particularly new businesses and small to medium enterprises (SMEs). As such, it’s important to make sure that you have a clear set of goals so you can measure investment against return. Goals also help at the planning stage, enabling you to tailor your strategy to your aims.

At the most basic level, all businesses will be looking to increase sales and profits. However, this is too vague to have as a goal. As when coming up with any business strategy, it’s important to have not only the ‘what’ element of your goals, but also the ‘how’.

Many people find meetings nerve-wracking, but the stakes (and the stress) can be even higher when you’ve travelled for a big event, whether you’re going to see other departments of your own company or a client.

If you’re asked to present at this kind of event, it can be a major boost to your career progression. However, a high profile presentation can also throw up a number of pitfalls, and even damage your reputation within the company.

Undergraduate students are, in many ways, the future of most businesses. The young people studying now will be the people employed in entry-level positions in a few years, while probably also being the people moving up the corporate ladder after that. As such, it is important for companies not to disregard this important demographic.

Students are almost a commodity at the moment. When people graduate each summer, companies will end up competing for the best and brightest who will add significant value to a business. If you have not made any effort to court these potential employees, they will go to your competitors instead.

Giving a presentation at a conference is very difficult and quite nerve-wracking! You have to explain your knowledge as best as you can in front of an audience of people you have to engage. You might not feel like an expert in your field, but the pressure is on to act like one while you're giving a presentation.

This might all sound pretty awful, but never fear! Presentations are rarely as bad as they seem. With a few simple tips, we can help you create a presentation everyone at your next conference will enjoy, engage with and learn from.

It might seem counterintuitive, but often the worst thing you can do at a conference is stick rigidly to the timetable. You might think the best thing you can do is attend every single session to make sure you don't miss any of the planned talks. However, by doing this you might be missing out on something even more useful.

Sometimes, the best part of a conference is the impromptu meetings and social gatherings that happen between attendees. If you meet someone who would potentially be an incredibly valuable contact for you, should you cut your conversation short so you can make the next session? Most would say no.

At every conference you attend, you should have two objectives: to learn more about your business and to network. Each of these is just as important as the other, so should not be neglected. This is why the people who get the most out of their conferences tend to work out a way of combining the two.

Group discussions are one of the best ways to achieve this. Getting together with relevant industry figures and discussing a session or seminar you have just attended is a great way to get to know people while boosting your own knowledge.

A lot of attention is paid to how exhibitors can make the most out of their trade shows, but people often forget that it is not easy to be an attendee either! As soon as you arrive you will be greeted by dozens of stalls, all trying to attract your custom with the many weekend deals they have on.

You need to make sure you are not suckered into a bad deal, but at the same time you need to be on the look out for products and services that will help out your business. This can be tricky at times. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of whatever trade shows you attend:

Technology has grown at an astronomical pace in the last few years, which has surely affected your life in some way. Your business will work largely over the internet, your car will have the latest sat nav system and your phone will be capable of far more than you would have expected just two or three years ago.

However, it is often still difficult to understand how this new technology can specifically help you and your business. One of the clearest signs of this is the fact that every conference is not a sea of people using tablet PCs like the Apple iPad. Tablets are incredibly useful for conference-goers, yet surprisingly underused.

Every business is aware of the importance of training and continuous professional development, but the extent to which this is carried out appears to differ greatly when the perspectives of both companies and their workers are taken into account.

That is the key finding following two reports published by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) on workplace learning, one of which adopted the point of view of employers, and another which questioned their staff.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have recorded the highest hiring growth since 1998, according to new findings.

Research published by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) revealed that 34 per cent of those polled increased their headcount in the three months leading up to July.

Whether you are meeting with clients, colleagues or members of your board, you will want to make sure that you have a good discussion that reaches a solid conclusion. However, this is often easier said than done. Without a skilled guiding hand to keep the conversation on the right track, you can end up having an unproductive time.

If you are responsible in any way for chairing or leading a meeting, you are going to need to make sure it remains on-topic for the duration. Otherwise you are going to struggle to talk about any pressing issues you have. However, people have a tendency to get distracted and overcomplicate conversations.

Why exactly is Birmingham such a popular destination for exhibitions, conferences and events in the UK? There are a few reasons, but the most obvious is its location - the West Midlands is relatively accessible from most parts of Britain.

If you're staging an event and expecting attendees from across the nation, the last thing you want to do is choose a site in one corner of the island. For instance, if you opt for Scotland, it's immediately more difficult for people to come from London. And if you stage the event in the south-east, the opposite applies.

When you get back from your next conference, you will almost certainly be doing so with a bundle of business cards in hand. If you have organised yourself properly, these will already be sorted and you will have a plan of action for each contact. However, you will still need to make that all-important follow-up call for them all!

If calling people isn't really your thing, then sorry! You are going to have to be on the phone a lot in the days - or even weeks - following a conference. However, the payoff is definitely worth it. Good follow-up work leads to a whole range of benefits for your business, so don't neglect it!

Happy and motivated workforces are critical to business success, with a more happy and enthusiastic workforce translating into an increasing number of staff who are loyal and productive.

As such, the way that leaders manage their employees will have a great bearing on the direction of the company and future profits - something that is particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who will often have a lower number of staff compared to the bigger firms.

In order to expand, many companies rely on being able to hire skilled workers so they are capable of taking on more custom. There is nothing wrong with this in theory, but businesses can hit a major hurdle if there is a shortage of potential employees with the talents and knowledge needed for the role.

Skills shortages can have massive effects on UK industry, and there are concerns the country might be in the grip of one right now. Based on the latest research, it would certainly seem like London has a problem with a lack of skilled employees.

If you're organising a trade show, conference or exhibition, your main concern is to ensure everything goes smoothly and the event is considered a success. Both exhibitors and attendees - whether they are individual consumers or business representatives - need to go away satisfied with the experience, knowing they have been properly catered for. So long as you achieve this, they will be happy to return again next year.

One of the first things you need to get right is the venue. Choosing specialist conferencing/exhibition facilities in a central location, close to strong transport links, is a no-brainer. You want exhibitors and other attendees to arrive with ease and be in comfort for the whole day. This means selecting a room or rooms with sufficient space and ensuring you don't go over capacity. If everyone feels cramped and crowded, this will impact on their experience.

Preparation is one of the most important things when you are exhibiting at a trade show. You can't expect to turn up and make a good impression without having made sure you are ready a long time in advance.

So what's the best way to make sure you are prepared? One method that many successful exhibitors use is to create a checklist a month or two in advance. This enables you to know exactly what needs doing before your next trade show. It also allows you to update the list whenever you need to make some modifications to what you need.

You're heading to a conference or exhibition and looking to build up your industry contacts book. This means putting yourself out their and networking with the people who matter. The only problem is, you're not exactly sure what to do.

There's more to business networking than simply gatecrashing somebody else's conversation and throwing a sales pitch at them. If this is your approach, you're not likely to get very far. In fact, some of the people you'd like to get to know will go out of their away to avoid your intended meeting.

The Engineering Development Trust (EDT) has praised Cranmore Park after the nationwide education charity successfully held its latest Midlands event at the venue.

The EDT, which is in its 30th year of operation, provides STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) enrichment activities for young people across the UK, and as such needs to hold a variety of events throughout the calendar year.

Brand exposure is key to any company's expansion plans. While the initial idea may have been a hit, it is crucial to build on that success.

There are numerous methods in helping to get your brand recognised whether it be through marketing campaigns or harnessing the power of social media. However, one method can be sometimes taken for granted but proves to get results. This is attending trade shows.

It is easy to dismiss training that is seen as unimportant without really understanding its value. Sometimes, if you are being asked to learn something completely new to implement in your office it can be difficult to see how it will fit in with your work day, which can lead to people opting out of sessions that could really help their career development.

However, often these skills that seem useless can have huge effects on your workforce. A good example of this is social media. Many workplaces dismiss this as a meaningful training option - after all, everybody has a Facebook account these days, surely? Besides which, most managers want to stop their workforce going on social media, not encourage it.

Whether you've booked it as part of a conference, are intending on holding a training session or just want somewhere to talk to clients, your meeting room is important. You will need to make sure it is right for all your needs. However, many people do not consider everything when it comes to setting up their room.

The layout in particular is something that often gets overlooked. It might seem like a very minor detail, but the way your room is laid out can affect how well your session goes. If you want to encourage an open debate but the room is laid out so not everyone can face each other, it is going to negatively impact your session.

Professional people can spend hour after hour in business meetings without ever settling on a particular course of action.

Decisions can get deferred to further meetings, which will be scheduled in for a future point in time, or issues will simply be brushed under the carpet.

How active should you be in business meetings? Is it important to have an opinion on every issue, or should you wait until you have a valuable point to make?

According to Cary Cooper, professor of organisational management at Lancaster University Management School, it's all too easy to spend an hour in a meeting where people drone on without saying anything.

Using Twitter effectively can give you an advantage when it comes to trade shows and making the most of networking opportunities, it has been claimed.

Janette Speyer, a partner at Hot Ice Media, believes the micro-blogging service is an extremely powerful tool - particularly for tracking and communicating.

Attracting people to your stand at your next trade show is one challenge, but have you thought about what you will do with all of them when they get there? You might have had an awkward experience with attendees when too many of them visit you at once, leaving you trying to deal with ten queries at once.

This can make you look unprofessional and under-prepared for the exhibition. It is always a good idea to take one or two extra members of staff with you to every trade show, but sometimes this still isn't enough! If too many people come over to you at once, you will find yourselves rushed and panicked, which will have a negative effect on attendees.

Businesses can use press releases to "create a buzz" at trade shows and raise awareness of their brands, it has been claimed.

Erienne Muldoon, a customer content specialist for Virtual Press Office, told Beyond PR that if an organisation has a presence at industry events, it has a story to tell.

If you're running a small business, you'll know all about the importance of having a unique selling proposition (USP). In order to attract customers and keep them out of the clutches of your rivals, you need to offer something a little bit different - a product, service or characteristic that sets you apart from your rivals.

If all you do is sell ordinary goods, at ordinary prices, in a non-descript location, how can you expect to build up a really successful business? In order to kick on, drive revenues and ensure more repeat custom, you need to be unique. Your USP is what grabs people's attention and then encourages them to keep coming back - you've got to have one.

If you're planning a conference for the first time, you might not realise what a big job you've undertaken. Even if it's going to be a relatively manageable event in terms of numbers on the day, or over the period of the event, there's still an awful lot of preparation to be done in advance.

You want to make the best possible impression with everyone who attends, in order to build a strong reputation which will stand you and your organisation in good stead in the future. In order to achieve this, you've got to hire great facilities, organise high-quality events, book the right speakers and ensure everyone's needs are met.

An increasing number of businesses around the world are recognising the value in marketing their activities via trade shows, exhibitions and events. They understand the potential, in terms of generating new leads, networking with industry contacts, and learning about new technologies, techniques and processes from industry thought leaders.

As such, it should come as little surprise to see continued growth in the exhibitions sector, particularly with the economy on an upwards curve. More businesses are choosing to allocate funds to this form of marketing, as they aim to generate interest in their goods and services and improve their brand positioning.

If you're representing your business at a trade show or exhibition, it goes without saying you'll want to look the part personally. Customers aren't going to be impressed if you turn up in a T-shirt and jeans, and nor would you be if you were attending in the same capacity. The chances are you would take your business elsewhere.

As a rough guide, it makes sense to dress one level smarter than the people who you want to become your customers. If you work on the premise that many trade show or exhibition visitors will arrive in smart-casual attire, you want to be wearing a suit or smart dress. Putting on a suit isn't going to earn you scores of new customers. But failing to do so could see you miss out on them.

The traditional nine to five office job could soon become a thing of the past, with new research suggesting that just 14 per cent of UK workers want to work in a traditional office in the future.

A new report by PwC, entitled ‘The future of work: A journey to 2022’, shows that 53 per cent of people believe that technology will significantly change the way people work over the next five to ten years and force business owners to reconsider company structures.

Employers are to be provided with assistance in recruiting prospective staff with the highest value skills, in an effort to ensure companies are taking on the most suitable candidates from the outset.

The government has revealed that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is set to alter the way that the outcomes of education and skills for adult learners are measured, in a bid to enable employers and training providers alike to focus more closely on giving students the skills they need in order to land new jobs and progress.

The automotive industry has been a constant fixture in the West Midlands for decades, and that is still true today, with many of the world's leading car manufacturers having a presence.

At one point, the West Midlands used to be the "Workshop of the World", with Mini and MG Rover leading the way forward for great British car brands, and this strong tradition has continued with the likes of Jaguar Land Rover.

At the next conference you attend, you will almost certainly be given a notepad or something similar to write on. These aren't just for doodling in the margins; note-taking is an important part of every conference. Without it, you will struggle to retain the information you learn and end up with only a vague memory of what was said.

If you want to be able to take the skills and knowledge you learn at your next conference back with you, you need to find the method of note-taking that works best for you. There are plenty of different options; here is a short guide to a few of the most common.

What can you do to make a real splash at trade shows and stand out from the crowd? One way to increase your visibility - and that of your business - is to become a speaker, rather than simply an exhibitor.

Imagine the possibilities if you are able to hold the floor for a few minutes, with hundreds - or even thousands - of eyes on you. Daunting as this might be, it's one of the best ways to raise awareness of your brand.

Putting together a great event or conference takes a lot of time, energy and money to achieve. Often, it’s something you are fiercely passionate about, whether it be a business idea, a charity event or something else entirely. The last thing you want then, is to go to all the trouble of organising a great event only for very few people to actually turn up.

Not only will this seriously deflate you in terms of achieving your end goal, but it could also see you lose out financially as well as missing out on crucial outside interest. In order to make sure that doesn't happen, there are a number of things you can do drum up awareness so that your event is a hit, not a miss.

As far as places to network are concerned, it just doesn’t get much better than an industry specific conference. With so many like-minded people in one place, you can easily extend your current network while consolidating some others that you may not have kept up with in recent months.

If you're exhibiting at a trade show, you need to find ways of maximising your investment - not just on the day of the event but in the weeks and months that follow. You've met new prospects and generated new leads at the trade show, but now you've got to drive home the advantage and turn potential into profits.

According to Timothy Carter, digital marketing manager for Nimlok, there are a number of different ways to achieve this goal. In a recent article for Small Business Trends, he explained some of the ways companies can continue to benefit from trade shows after they have taken place.

If your organisation invests in training for its employees, you can potentially use this as a tool to attract and retain talented staff.

When professionals look for organisations to join, they are interested in more than simply the salary on offer: They are eager to know they can grow their career with the employer, developing new skills and gaining additional experience on the job.

So you're thinking about attending a trade show or exhibition, but not sure which one to choose. You've got a few different options, but can only really spare the time to visit one of them. How do ensure you make the right choice, and opt for the show that delivers the best possible experience?

Doing a little basic research, and thinking about what you're looking for from your experience, can make all the difference. Rather than simply jumping in the car and heading to events on a whim, why not check what actually lies in store at your destination?

A number of events industry bodies are joining forces for a major new research project, designed to measure the overall volume and dimensions of the exhibitions and live events sector.

The Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) are embarking on the three-year project with a view to providing benchmarking and quality metrics.

On January 1st, people around the world will be setting themselves goals for the new year. You've probably thought of a resolution yourself - maybe you're going to give up chocolate and sweets, or learn a new skill - but have you thought of creating one or two for your business?

Setting year-long goals can be very helpful, especially if they are measurable and attainable. However, with something as large as a business it is usually not a good idea to set big, vague goals. Now is the time to get specific! Look at each aspect of your company and think: "How can I improve it?"

Exhibitions and large trade shows are a great place to advertise your business. Usually, this means getting a stand together and showcasing whatever it is you have to offer, whether that means showing off the services you offer to potential customers or trying to get retailers to stock your wares.

This can be a great way to grow your business, but there are several challenges you must overcome first. Trade shows will not consist of just your stand and a swathe of potential customers; there could be dozens if not hundreds of competitors there with the same goals as you.

One of the most time-tested tactics at a trade show is to bring along a slew of promotional items to give out to the attendees. While this won't necessarily attract all that many more people to your stall, it is a good way to spread awareness of your brand and to solidify your message in the minds of those you talk to.

If you're running a new start-up business and only have a limited marketing budget to work with, is it a realistic prospect to advertise at trade shows and exhibitions?

There are costs involved with this form of promotional activity, as you'll have to pay for your booth, travel to and from the venue, accommodation and any staffing costs.

The objective of everyone exhibiting at a trade show should be the same: to attract people to your stall in order to advertise your product or service, and hopefully make a few sales. However, everyone is going to be doing this. For attendees, it can be really easy to forget who you have talked to; and more importantly, what their business was.

Getting people to visit your stall is important, but not nearly as much as making sure they remember you. Not everyone is going to be making purchases on the day, so you need to make sure your contacts know exactly what your product or service is and why they should opt for you as a seller.

How far ahead can you plan your business diary? The one thing you should always expect in business is the unexpected - circumstances, scenarios and events which force you to change course at short notice.

While you can never be sure exactly where you'll be at any given point, or which tasks will be your most immediate priority, it is vitally important to plan ahead as far as possible. As a business leader, your year needs a degree of structure - week by week, month by month. This gives you the best possible opportunity of achieving both short and long term goals.

Working out the costs of trade show marketing is crucial for any business, one industry figure has claimed.

Charles Beshears, the president of National Trade Show Displays, told TSNN that these events "can be a very positive and lucrative experience" for many companies.

If your company has more than a few employees, you probably already have a space in your office that is appropriate for most of the meetings you need in the normal course of business.

However, there are a number of advantages that can be gained by hiring a separate meeting room for certain occasions, particularly if it is not a regular expense.

If you're hiring specialist, off-site facilities for your next important meeting or training session, you've got to make sure you get value for money. If you choose a suitable centre and room, which is equipped with everything you need, then it's much more likely you'll see the return on investment you hoped for and expected.

If you carry out a recce of training and meeting room facilities - whether in-person or online - you'll be able to eliminate some options straight away. It may be that they are too small, too dark, or simply ill-equipped to meet your organisations needs. If you're paying money to bring people off-site for training, or arranging an important meeting with clients and partners, you need to impress them with the venue, so it's no good settling for a second-rate option.

Every exhibition and trade show will involve a lot of vying for attention. You are going to be attempting to attract potentially hundreds of visitors to your stall, which is no easy task when there could be dozens of your competitors exhibiting within metres of you.

Furthermore, you are going to be trying to grab the attention of people who might never have heard of you or the products you offer. In these circumstances, you might find yourself wanting to just give up and go home! However, this should be seen as an opportunity for success and a challenge to be overcome.

Many young people are interested in furthering their learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, but do not always have the opportunities to do so, a new survey suggests.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology's 2014 Skills Survey poll, which questioned over 400 engineering and IT staff, revealed that 59 per cent of companies believe a lack of available engineers will be a threat to their business in the coming year.