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Cranmore Park Blog

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.