Justyna Gutowska from the Business Language Boutique with Bartek Kowalczyk from the Anglo-Polish membership organisation and B2B portal Polish Business Link
Justyna Gutowska from the Language Business Boutique reports back from the UK Construction Week
The UK Construction Week – the largest annual built environment event in the UK, consisting of nine shows: Timber Expo, Build Show, Civils Expo, Plant & Machinery Live, Energy 2019, Building Tech Live, Surface & Materials Show and HVAC 2019 – all contained under one roof of the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
There is no doubt, that if your business is any way linked with the building industry, this is the one event which cannot be missed. While for some of us attending, the idea of 650 exhibitors, hundreds of seminars and events and millions of potential business partners is nothing but encouraging, for others it is simply overwhelming.
So how should you brace yourself? What should you do in order to make the most out of the exhibition experience and have fun?
- Be selective – Trying to be everywhere and see everything is simply not feasible at an event of this calibre. Have a close look at the list of exhibitors select only the ones, which might be down your business alley. Think in terms of location, products and common interests. Research the list of seminars and workshops – plan to show up where you think your potential clients might go.
- Plan for it – Chose a day (or two) when you think you can make the most out of your presence. Block this out of your calendar and don’t let anything trivial get in the way – determination is key. Contact the businesses from your “to-see” list and let them know you’re coming. You’ll be surprised how many of them will be open to a planned, targeted and efficient business conversation. Prior to the event, exploit LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and else that technology gave you.
- Know your worth – The UK Construction Week (or any other exhibition, conference or networking event) is not a place for shyness and modesty – leave them at home. Bring perseverance, strength and confidence in yourself, your service or product. Focus on your goals and follow through with your plan. Your attitude reflects on how you come across. With the right mindset, you will stand out from the crowd and attract more interest and attention.
- Network – Prepare to listen. A lot! Refrain from talking about what you do or offer as this will only make you disappear in the crowd of all the other “talkers” and “offerers”.People like to be listened to, so use it to your advantage and ask questions: about the event, their whereabouts, their business, life, interests, ambitions. You never know who might be standing next to you, so talk to everyone – people at the stands, passers-by, people queueing for coffee and the ones you see at the airport or the train station. Networking is all about establishing a connection. Business comes after.
- Follow up – Your efforts will only pay off if you stay in touch. Send your new contacts a thank you note, a card or an email. Suggest other events they might be interested in, introduce them to colleagues who might add value to their business, do everything in your power to talk or meet again. Even if a particular person does not need to buy anything from you, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Also, you never know who they might know or when their services may become handy to you – there are no bad business contacts!
With this approach, I represented Business Language Boutique during one of the three days of the Birmingham event. I targeted 5 exhibition stands (3strong leads), managed to arrange two meetings (2 potential clients), asked three questions at two workshops (had fun), and attended a networking event for Polish entrepreneurs (4 strong leads). I spoke to hundreds of people and ran out of business cards (my bad!). I also met a potential client while waiting for the train back home and arranged to meet them again at the London Build Show a couple of weeks later. The investment more than paid off. Quite a success, I say!