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Cranmore Park Blog

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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?

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.