Cranmore Park Blog

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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!

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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.