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A business exhibition is a great way to get your business out there under the noses of the right people. Successful business exhibitions attract lots of potential contacts for you, and just as important, can bring you an increase in customers.

Having a stall at a business exhibition can be quite costly, so it’s very important that you maximise the opportunity to get the best return on investment. Here’s some advice for getting your business noticed….

 1. Prepare yourself. Manning a stall at a business exhibition is a lot of fun but can be very tiring. Make sure you have some snacks and drinks to keep you going, and rehearse your sales dialogue in advance so you don’t trip over your words. You only have a short time to grab an attendee’s attention so you need to be on the ball as much as possible. Keep yourself from getting over-tired as a fresh smile goes a long way.

2. Make a visual impact. Exhibition stands are a must, and a nice tablecloth will hide a multitude of sins down below. Bright banners with large lettering are better than busy, cluttered ones as they can be seen from further away. Leave plenty of time to get them printed to avoid last minute panics. Check out the furniture that the exhibition venue is supplying in advance – sometimes it can be a bit dull and uninspiring. If you really want to make a stylish impression you can hire some furniture from a company such as Rio Lounge .

3. Take business cards and hand-outs. Attendees will have a lot of stalls to get round and having business cards and promotional leaflets available will enable them to remember you later. Have a big jar or bowl on your table so attendees can drop their business cards in and you instantly have a stash of interested people to contact later. Encourage attendees to leave you their email address with the lure of details of an exclusive exhibition offer. Aim to build up your marketing database as much as possible.

4. Do free consultations. If you have a business that can give advice about your industry, then encourage attendees to book a short one-to-one with one of your knowledgeable employees and you’ll have a steady stream of people coming to visit you. Use this free consultation to showcase your company’s expertise, and you have a great chance of winning business. It also makes your stall look really popular! Word of mouth is a powerful tool at business exhibitions.

5. Give stuff away for free – do not underestimate the lure of freebies. Have a nice range of branded promotional items and you’ll have attendees seeking out your stand.  Pens are a good economical choice that will be appreciated and used, and promotional items like T-shirts and bags have a high visual impact on the day. The best freebies of all are of the edible kind – a huge bowl of (wrapped) sweets attract even the most professional of professionals in droves. Make your sweet offering bigger and more colourful than the stalls around you and you are on to a winner!

If you’re not convinced about business exhibitions, then check out this article from Marketing Donut about the benefits of exhibiting.

Business exhibitions are a great opportunity for the right business – just get out there are try! Good luck. 

New to the Expo this year is our Business Lounge, situated just as you come in the main entrance.

It's busy season and taking time out from work to attend an exhibition can stretch your time resources. When you have a busy work schedule being out of the loop all day isn't always a good plan.

If you attend the Hertfordshire Business Expo the problem is solved as – in conjunction with Hot Office Express – there is a business lounge where there's working space with WiFi completely free of charge to all attendees. So bring your laptop or tablet and you'll be able to sneak in some work, whilst benefitting from all that the Herts Expo has to offer.

And as a bonus every visitor will receive a HertsDeskSpace card, powered by Neardesk, valued at £20 + vat – completely free of charge. This gives you access to hundreds of offices throughout the country for pay-as-you-go office space – a national network of business 'premises'!

Further more, everyone who registers their card on the day can benefit from having their profile appearing on one of the screens in the venue, helping to promote their company.

To save time on the day, and pre-register your HertsDeskSpace card please click here, your profile will only take a few minutes, and your card will be ready for you to collect on the day.

This is how your profile will appear:

As the Expo is free you'll be getting enormous value just by turning up!

The Busniess Lounge is sponsored by The Hot Office

Why you should recruit a project manager for your SME

There can be a tendency for some SMEs to believe that project management is something that only large corporates need to worry about. They assume that if they have a team of knowledgeable and competent staff who communicate well with each other, then their projects will look after themselves. Why would they need to hire a project manager when they have people who are perfectly capable of managing their own workloads?

The answer starts to emerge if we stop for a moment and think about the definition of a project: a temporary group activity with a defined beginning and end which is designed to produce a particular product, service or result. That team of staff, though they may be very highly skilled, already have roles and responsibilities which they carry out on a daily basis; if they're asked to manage projects on top of their usual routine, it's almost inevitable that something will suffer.

Small to medium sized businesses, particularly in today's tough economic climate, depend on their ability to deliver their projects on time while keeping a tight control of their costs. Projects might include tenders for business, expansion into new markets, implementing new software systems or relocation to new premises. None of these can be achieved without good planning and effective handling of budgets. A project manager has specific skills and qualifications in these areas which are transferable to organisations of every size.

Delivery of a project frequently requires the participation of several individuals or teams. Even in small to medium sized businesses, the parties involved may not always agree on priorities or the best way to get the job done. The project manager acts as decision maker and focal point for all their activities, to ensure that things are moving in the right direction at all times. He is also trained in identifying risks which may jeopardise the project and putting contingency plans in place so that any issues that do arise have the minimum impact.

A project manager will set out by breaking down the work involved into a set of individual tasks and assigning responsibility for completion of those tasks. As the project progresses, he communicates with everyone involved and makes any necessary adjustments to the plan. This ensures that:

• realistic expectations are set from the start and maintained throughout
• every member of the project team is aware of what they need to do and when
• team members don't have to maintain communication with management or customers, so they're free to concentrate on the task at hand

Recruiting a project manager to ensure that your projects runs smoothly and are delivered on time can help to enhance the reputation of your business; satisfied customers will return to you again and again as well as giving valuable recommendations to others. You'll also be getting an efficient administrator and a skilled budget controller who can help you to ensure that your costs don't spiral out of control. All of these essential skills in one person starts to make recruiting a project manager look like a very sensible investment.

Find out more about the art of project management: What is project management?

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