I was lucky enough to attend the North East Expo last week, which was a hive of activity. Over 250 Small to Medium Sized Enterprises, based predominantly within a 50 mile radius of Newcastle upon Tyne, came together to share business ideas through networking and participating in seminars and workshops.
As a freelance researcher, who previously worked for the former government advisory service for small to medium sized enterprises, it was an opportunity to experience things from a different angle; to listen to experts from outside of my profession, as an attendee rather than a member of the organising body.
Sadly, time ensured that I attended only 5 of the 14 sessions so I thought I would share with you the pointers that I took away from each (not a full rendition of each session) in the hope that other attendees would add their thoughts and opinions on the sessions I missed …
First up for me was Giles Johnston of Smartspeed Consulting Ltd (http://www.smartspeed.co.uk) with a session on “5 Ideas to improve productivity, profit and performance”.
Giles’ talk reminded me of many of the aspects of time management skills that I have learned to employ over the years but I took from it the idea of ‘5Ss’
• Sort – remove junk and declutter
• Set in order – put things in the right place
• Shine – keep your office in ‘showroom conditions’ (no more last-minute tidying up before your visitor arrives!)
• Standards – clarify with your colleagues how and where things are kept
• Sustain – Once you have carried out the first four ‘S’s, keep reapplying them!
These points do not just apply to your physical office but to your IT aspects too …
Then it was on to listen to Mike Lever of New Results Training (http://www.newresultstraining.co.uk)give his talk on ‘The Journey of Change’.
Using a very personal account of his own experience which involved IVF, a sudden life threatening condition, the collapse of the company he was working for and subsequent redundancy, Mike inspired his audience to consider the changes they need to make:
• What do you need to change?
• Why do you need to make the change?
• How will you effect the change?
We were all issued with the challenge:
What can you achieve between now and the New Year?
This was a well-timed seminar for me to attend as it both resonated with me and the stage I am at both personally and professionally and segued nicely into the next session I attended…
Simon Bucknall (http://www.simonbucknall.com) “The Greatest Story You’ve Never Told”.
Simon demonstrated the power of using your own personal stories to communicate your message when engaged in public speaking. Using the ‘4Cs’ –
• Critical Moment
Simon wove a true story of standing-up to, and later befriending, the school bully. He illustrated how a simple story, well told, can emphasise your point. I will be taking the lessons I learned in this session and adding them to the pointers I have picked up whilst studying and giving presentations. Simon himself stated that he has attended Toastmaster General meetings – something I have attended recently and intend to join …
The art of using your own personal experience was illustrated again by Julie Johnson (http://www.juliejohnsoncoaching.com) in her workshop on “Your Business as Your Stage – How to become the star and dance your way to success”. Julie used the metaphor of ‘DANCE’ to encourage us to clarify where we are with our businesses and where we want to be:
• Discover, Define, Direct
Discover where your business is and where you want it to be
Define what success for you and your business looks like
Direct your business – take responsibility for your business and what you want it to be.
Understand what drives you and what drives your business
• No Limitations
Realise that we set our own limitations which stop us from doing things.
Be aware of the connection between what you say and do; be consistent.
How energetic you are feeling will come across in your business!
Finally, I attended Sam Flynn’s (http://www.samflynn.co.uk) session “Creating a Super Successful Social Media Strategy”. This was a gem of a session which I almost did not attend as I have recently read many articles/books and attended Webinars on the subject …
Rather than conduct a whistle-stop tour on how to use several social media platforms, Sam defined a 3-point strategy for the effective business use of social media:
• Aims – what are you using social media for? Who is your target market?
• Content – stand out. Think through what you are saying. Share knowledge and information. Show that you know your
industry and build trust.
• Engage – share other people’s content, ask questions and reply to other people’s posts.
For me the salient message was that businesses use social media to get more business; not to see what they can buy. Sales messages on social media are unlikely to work. Use social media to build trust.
Other useful sound bites I took away from this session were:
• Use Google Reader to search for relevant blogs
• For Twitter, use tweepi.com and followerwonk.com to search for relevant people and organisations to follow and to see
useful statistics on who is following you (when they last posted, how active they are etc.) … I know that there are
In between the sessions, I was able to network and to visit the exhibition halls where I spoke to Damian Hall of Signpost (http://www.signpost37.co.uk) regarding an online virtual coaching tool and who has very kindly sent me one of the 37 elements ‘The art of procrastination’ – which I promised myself I would read AFTER posting this blog!
It would be impossible to name everyone else that I spoke to but, I would like to thank Caron Grant of Icenturf Ltd (http://www.icenturf.co.uk) for taking pity on me! This is the first time I have had a ride in a snow plough – and that was after I said that I hoped we had no need of a snow plough during the winter months!
All in all, I had a productive day out and I hope that other attendees reading this blog add to the discussion by giving their highlights of the day …