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Cranmore Park Blog

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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:

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?

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 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.