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Cranmore Park Blog

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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.