The Event Industry and Blogging: Are Event Managers Missing a Trick?

UKBlogAwardsLogoWe are really excited to be a collaborative partner in the National UK Blog Awards, which is the first cross industry blog awards to take place in the UK.  As a blogger myself and an avid reader of blogs on a largely daily basis we are really passionate about being involved in this exciting project.  I started blogging in June 2011 and I am enjoying continually learning and developing my skills and immersing myself in the blogging community.  I am finding it truly inspiring seeing so many fantastic blogs being entered into the Awards and wish I had more time to read them all!

One of the 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter is the Events Category and I have been surprised to find entries in this category lagging behind the other sectors slightly.  I never seem to have any shortage of event blog posts to read, however I realise of course that many of my favourite event bloggers are not from the UK, notably:

As the UK has such a strong and vibrant community of event professionals I believed that everyone like me would be beavering away on their blog as often as they could, knowing how important it is to post regularly in terms of improving SEO, visibility and showcasing knowledge of their niche sector.  Now don’t get me wrong – many UK event professionals ARE doing this, and some of which have already entered the awards!  I did some research and it was great to see so many established blogs with regular postings and a back catalogue of archived blog posts on interesting topics (going back several years in some cases).  HOWEVER for every great up to date blog I discovered there were numerous others with blogs which hadn’t been updated since circa 2010/2011.  This made me wonder are these companies still in business?  I wondered if it was actually more detrimental having a neglected blog on their site rather than having no blog at all?

In this quick investigation into UK event management blogs I searched for both Freelance Event Managers and Event Management Companies as it is proven that blogging is a great leveller in terms of inbound marketing returns, particularly for small businesses.  I was also however surprised at some of the biggest companies in the event industry not having a blog at all.  And others still that called something a blog when really it was just a series of news posts and self promotion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate how hard successful event planners work in the industry and the long hours that they keep because I do the same too!  I am certainly not saying that I am perfect in any way – you will see that I have sometimes had months when I have not posted to this blog due to work pressure, maternity leave, etc (although hopefully not recently as this is something I am improving on and committed to).  I feel however that missing a post or three is entirely different to going AWOL from your blog for 6 months plus, particularly without any explanation.  It is one thing being busy and not having enough hours in the day but not finding the time to write a post in the space of half a year or more sends out the wrong messages I would say!

It also made me laugh to discover so many sites which proclaimed “this is my new website and blog, which will be updated regularly without fail” never to have any further posts!

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The UK has world class events, venues, suppliers, technology, eventprofs and event management companies but in terms of my quick blogging research it seems that the UK as a whole could be falling behind the rest of the world in the events blogosphere.  Most event managers that I know have lots to say and if the prospect appeals I would encourage you to definitely think about starting a blog and giving it a go!  Perhaps then you will be entering the awards in 2015!

One thing that I have found really inspiring is the number of students and graduates blogging.  As an employer if someone with a well written blog applied for a job in this competitive market this would potentially set them apart from the other candidates as it shows self-motivation, passion, thought and dedication – all key attributes required by an event organiser.  This heartwarming article from the Guardian Professional gives a real life example: Blogging During Unemployment Helped My Career.  Despite the difficult economic climate blogging helped this Graduate into work after 2 years of unemployment and illustrates potentially the springboard that blogging could be if you so wish, whatever your profession.

Do you think the UK lags behind the rest of the world in terms of event management blogs?  What are your favourite UK event industry blogs?  

Are you an event manager?  Do you or your company blog?  How often do you try to post and what is the longest period you have gone without posting?  What were the reasons for any breaks?  

Do you think it is best to have a neglected blog or no blog at all?  I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues below!

In a forthcoming blog post I am going to discuss the importance in engaging with bloggers as part of your event marketing strategy, before, during and after a live event.

Individuals and organisations can enter their blog for FREE in the UK Blog Awards up until midnight on 15th December 2013 via the UK Blog Awards online entry form.  There are 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter – 12 industry categories (including the Events Category) and 2 sub categories including ‘Most Innovative’ and ‘Young Persons Blog Award.’  We will look forward to reading your entry!

Are Event Management Degrees Worthwhile?

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumIn October 2013 Conference and Incentive Travel Magazine published this article: The Big Debate – Are Event Management Degrees a Waste of Time?  The Event Wide Blog then responded with this piece: A Response from an Event Student and Joanna, another event management student, blogged about it here: To a Degree of Relevance.  Event Management qualifications certainly seem to be a controversial subject!  As a graduate with an event management degree myself (graduating over 10 years ago with a 2:1 BA Hons Events Management from Leeds Metropolitan University) I also wanted to write a blog post and to add my thoughts into the mix!

In the C&IT article Simon Maier from the TFI Group suggests that the degrees are too wide-ranging. He says “The content is too broad. It mostly covers management and logistics – very little about delivery, measurement, ROI and the full gamut of event technology. I suspect that not all the lecturers who design the courses are practising events professionals and tend to come from the academic, hotel or travel side.”

Obviously I only have first hand detailed experience of the content of my own course which I imagine has changed and developed a lot in the last 10 years and so it is impossible to speak authoritatively for all event management degrees across the UK.  I would suggest though that it was largely a business degree with elements of planning, finance, marketing, HR, etc, alongside the event planning specific content.  However with many of the modules we were of course expected to put the learning into an event context.

The events industry is varied and although certain principals and planning elements apply to any event genre the specifics of organising a conference are very different to managing an outdoor festival for example.  My degree opened my eyes to the many opportunities in the industry and like many I started the course thinking I wanted to get involved in music festivals and came out realising that actually conferences and corporate event projects are my forte and passion.

When I did my degree there were very few event management degree courses and Leeds was definitely the place to be!  We had less than 75 people in the year group and you could not progress unless you had completed a minimum of 48 weeks full time work placement in the industry.  This placement took place during your 2nd year and then you returned to university for years 3 and 4.  That first hand experience was essential and certainly made the rest of the university content more real, fusing together the academic with real life experience.  One thing that does worry me nowadays is the intake in each year group and therefore the amount of event management students studying each year.  In the current economic climate does the demand by students for work placements and jobs in the industry outstrip the actual requirement in the real world?

Another element that I really valued in my degree was the regular contributions from industry speakers.  This really brought to life the realities and scope of the world of events.
Glenn Bowdin was (and still is) the Head of UK Centre for Events Management, Leeds Metropolitan University.  He has written event management text books and is Chair of AEME (Association for Events Management Education).

I had some great lecturers and it was really apparent those that “knew their stuff” and had a lot of experience.  I particularly valued the knowledge of Nick Jordan and I was lucky enough to have Nick as my dissertation tutor (now a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University).  Perhaps it was Nick that sparked my love of organising conferences too!  Of course not all of the lecturers encountered had the same level of experience and one in particular seemed to crack under questioning from inquisitive students and seemed to have only have organised a handful of events (they are no longer at Leeds Met I hasten to add!).  I agree that it is absolutely vital that anyone who teaches the event managers of tomorrow must have credibility and many years of experience running events.  A background in event management (not hotels, travel and tourism or academia) cannot be faked and so you will soon be discovered and lose the respect of the students otherwise.  Also to be able to direct research or advise students around their dissertation topic you surely need to have that deeper understanding?

We did plan, develop and execute some real events as part of our course although sometimes we had to undertake the planning for imaginary event projects too which was perhaps frustrating.  Looking back though I imagine it was very important as it gave us the opportunity to think big as if we were planning a really innovative event project with a complicated brief and a specific budget and is similar to putting forward ideas to a client and developing new opportunities in the real world.

I agree wholeheartedly with Simon Maier that delivery, measurement, ROI and event technology are vital elements to be studied.  The events industry is moving at such a fast pace I would hope that event management degrees are keeping abreast and tweaking their course content every single academic year.  Social media and health and safety are other vital components I would suggest should be given priority and whereas 10 years ago we learnt about video-conferencing, students today should be learning about hybrid events.  I know we had the opportunity to learn video editing for one module and skills such as this are obviously more important than ever for a well rounded event manager.  I hope also that all students at all universities nowadays (whatever the course) also have access to training in entrepreneurship, business planning and guidance on how to set up your own company.

One thing I think it is important to remember though is that University is not school or college.  It is about independent learning – research, critical thinking, study, reflection combined with work experience.  University is not about hand holding and telling people what to think and do – the student must come to their own conclusions and it is true somewhat that they get out what they put in (as with life in general!).

More recently I have had some links with the BA (Hons) Event Management Course at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).  I have had the pleasure of meeting the Course Leader and Senior Lecturers, I have presented to students about my career and experience of the events industry, I have participated in an industry focus group around course content and development, I have interviewed students for an events role, I have attended events organised by the students and I have worked first hand with several students who volunteered and came forward to work on a challenging event taking place within very short timescales.  I have to say I have been nothing less than impressed – the students have been really proactive and keen, the lecturers have a true background in events, the student intake each year is small and as part of the course they have to put on real events.

VolunteerWhen I graduated my industry work placement as well as the other voluntary and paid work experience I had gained were essential in helping me find a job.  Then in 2004 I set up my own company: Events Northern Ltd. (note I wrote an earlier blog post here about Starting an Event Management Company).  I know of at least 2 other graduates from my year group that did the same.  Others went on to top high flying jobs with some of the biggest companies in the events industry.  Inevitably though there were also many that didn’t go into the events industry and found jobs in human resources, marketing, retail and so forth.  I think it is a strength that our course was broad enough to allow this if people decided the events industry wasn’t for them.  The business elements of an event management degree and indeed the skills developed in terms of event planning are easily transferable, whereas someone without that event management background would not necessarily have the skills an event organiser needs.

I would suggest from an employers perspective if someone has a degree in Event Management this shows me that they are very focused on their career path (like I was – I couldn’t imagine studying anything else).  I agree that event experience would have the greater weighting if I had to choose between event management experience or having an event management degree but if recruiting I would largely favour someone with an events management degree rather than someone who had studied another subject.

I really do not envy current event management (or any students) today.  Not only do they have to pay high tuition fees (up to £9k per year) they also face a really difficult job market at the end of it.  Luckily the top students seem to realise that this is a competitive market and are raising their game and thinking ahead.

I have been impressed by the event management students I have come into contact with in person and also via Twitter and #eventhour.  They have shown an inquisitive and intelligent perspective, are gaining valuable work experience whenever they can (both paid and unpaid) and it is great to see them networking with event professionals via the virtual world through Twitter chats and face to face opportunities as well as taking the time to blog.  For me as an employer this shows real commitment.

In conclusion I would wholeheartedly defend my event management degree.  The academic preparation and inspiration it provided, in conjunction with lots of work experience has prepared me for my career as a professional event and conference organiser.  I would love to hear more from Universities that offer event management degree courses and find out about their specific course content and how they respond to this debate.

All the Right Noises: Enhancing Your Seminar through Sound

If you’re planning a seminar or business conference and are wondering how to give it that extra dimension it needs to really become something special, the answer is simple – introduce sound. Bringing extra auditory aspects into your conference not only allows it to operate on an additional plane, but also guarantees to maximise engagement when compared with a standard lecture-format presentation. Of course, anyone hoping to bring sound to their seminar will need to ensure that they can depend on quality audio. But once you’ve got that covered, there are a whole world of options available. You might be wondering how sound can work for your seminar – but don’t worry, we’ve got a few ideas.

Sound Bites
Sound bites can be a great way to substantiate points made throughout your presentation. If you can find any clips from audio interviews on the same topic, or any excerpts from speeches or monologues supporting the issue, these can be a quick win in terms of giving your conference that little something extra it needs.

If you’ve got room to be a little more offbeat, you could even try introducing some extracts from TV or movie dialogue – as long as it supports the ultimate message. Bear your audience in mind at all times and gear your auditory extras towards their assumed interests. Pop culture references are a failsafe with younger audiences, so this could be the way to take engagement to the next level.

Music
Continuing to bear in mind that any audio used in your presentation must be relevant to the overall theme of the conference, and indeed directly support your current point, music can be used to great effect if and where appropriate. You might want to try giving your presentation an ongoing soundtrack (as long as the music doesn’t detract from the presentation itself), or – if you’re looking for something a little quirkier, play a particular song in your presentation that helps to illustrate a point. Again, audience awareness is vital – hot contemporary tracks can really shake up a seminar with the right audience sitting there.

Video
All presentations can, realistically, benefit from the use of video. Even besides the fact that this dynamic medium brings a ton of extra life to your message – and therefore energises the presentation as a whole – video is such a complex and versatile medium that is able to serve any number of purposes.

You could use video interviews on the topic, relevant news items, commercial ads (where appropriate), TV or film clips, educational videos – the internet is your oyster. If you really want your presentation to be cutting-edge and on-topic, you could even spice up your seminar with some internet memes. There are an immense number of memes out there, just waiting to give your presentation some mainstream appeal – and they guarantee some laughs.

If you want a presentation that really packs a punch, audio is the way to go. Give your audience something special – something above and beyond what they expect – and engagement is all but guaranteed.

Thanks to Kate Haywood (@writtenbykate) for this guest blog post.

Ensuring Your Attendees Stay Relaxed and Happy During Your Event

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumFollowing on from yesterdays post ‘Ensuring Your Event Attendees Arrive Relaxed and Happy‘ I wanted to continue the theme with some basics for keeping your attendees relaxed and happy throughout your conference or event.

1. Have a good Chair who keeps people informed and gives clear instructions.
Key information the Chair will cover at the start of the event are likely to be evacuation procedure, who are the key staff to speak to in case of any queries, if the presentations will be available post event (and if so from where and when will they be available), Twitter hashtag, wifi log in details, introductions of speakers, where attendees should go next and when they should return.
Guidance from the Chair on points such as waiting for the microphone to reach them before they ask a question and giving their name and organisation first of all are helpful in laying down the ground rules.
A good Chair is also invaluable in terms of summarising the key points, asking probing questions and making seamless links and connections between content and speakers.
Top Tip: We always create Chair Briefing Notes detailing the housekeeping important information listed in chronological order against the programme so that hopefully no key information is omitted.

2. Ensure the environment is comfortable.
Ensure the surroundings including the ambient temperature, room layout and set up is conducive to the purpose of the event.  For example if you want attendees to concentrate on the speakers and presentations ensure that everyone has a clear view and sight-lines to the stage/lectern and don’t make the room too warm so it makes everyone become sleepy.  If you are running a workshop and want to facilitate group work then don’t have a theatre style layout, consider more inventive and interactive options.
Top Tip: Don’t pack too many people into the room, having space to move around the event room is important!

3. Provide relevant information within the delegate folders/conference brochure (or event app!)
Some basics should be provided to delegates via the delegate folders or brochure or via the event app if you prefer!  This includes the detailed event programme, venue wifi log in details, event hashtag and speaker biographies.  Attendees also really appreciate a list of attendees and key information and learning to be announced/shared through the event.
Top Tip: Event apps are a fantastic way to ensure delegates have the key event information at their fingertips but at the same time reduce printing and plastic folders, which is great from an environmental perspective.  Our sister company Advanced Event Solutions Ltd has a fantastic event app (basic app £1,000) 

business4. Encourage networking and interaction
Networking doesn’t come easily to everyone so we always try to assist in providing opportunities without putting anyone outside of their comfort zone.  We always have clear, easy to read badges and generally provide a ‘sharing table.’  Without putting anyone on the spot we also like to give attendees a low key opportunity to introduce themselves to the people around them and make them feel confortable at the start of the event and perhaps to discuss a key question at relevant points throughout the day.
Top Tip: A skilled facilitator will put everyone at ease and get the audience to connect and share effectively.

5. Signage and staff
However skilled you are as an Event Manager you cannot be everywhere at once and so having signage and support staff in place to guide delegates around the venue is important.  Conference venues can be huge and so you don’t want attendees to find themselves lost and frustrated!
Top Tip: Think about the flow of the event during the planning stages.  If the lunch and refreshments can be served in the same place throughout the event it helps attendees to feel comfortable and navigate their way around the venue effectively.

6. Keep the audiences attention and interest
Ensure that the presentation times are not too long (20 minutes is generally sufficient!) and that there are plenty of opportunities for movement, networking and changes of scenery throughout the day.
Top Tip: Request presentations in advance from speakers if at all possible so you can check and save and familiarise yourself with the length and content of the presentation.  A speaker will generally need at least a minute per slide if it is content based.

7. Keep as close to time as possible
Nothing is more frustrating than to see an event timetable spiraling out of control.  Try to keep the speakers and event to time and always make an effort to pull back time if you do get slightly behind (for instance by shortening the coffee/lunch break or cutting down on time for questions).
Top Tip: Agree a speaker warning system to help them keep to time.

8. Avoid lunch and refreshment break rage!
Unless you are running a really small event don’t let the venue persuade you to make do with only one catering serving station under any circumstances!  It is vital to have multiple identical servings stations for refreshments and lunch to avoid long queues and frustration.
Top Tip: Ask the venue/caterers to label the food clearly so that people can select their lunch confidently rather than trying to identify the different items.  And insist that vegetarian and meat and fish items are plated up completely separately.  You should have discussed with the venue/caterers in advance what arrangements will be made for those with special dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegan, etc (often they will create a special plated meal for those with special requests).

9. Give advance warning if you need attendees to do something
For example if you would like delegates to complete a feedback form before leaving give them a heads up at the start of the last session so they can complete the form in good time.  If you only ask attendees to complete their form as they leave the event you risk having a low return rate.
Top Tip: Is a paper feedback form the best way to get feedback from your event?  Consider an online survey with an incentive to respond or gather feedback through your event app instead.  You should also monitor social media channels too.

Volunteer10. Finish on time
It is vital to finish your event on time or even ideally perhaps a few minutes early!  If you overrun you risk people getting antsy as they think about the train they need to run for or the childminder they need to get back to.  Us Brits are polite human beings but many will start to depart and leave a speaker mid flow if the event finish time is nigh or has passed.
Top Tip: Ensure everyone is ready for everyone to exit the event as smoothly as they arrived.  Have staff ready to collect feedback form and badges, hold open doors, retrieve coats from the cloakroom quickly, etc.

We hope you have enjoyed these basics for ensuring your attendees are happy and relaxed throughout your event.  We would love to hear your top tips to make delegates feel comfortable and ensure they get the most out of the event as a result.  When you attend events what elements make the difference in terms of your personal enjoyment and comfort?

EIBTM

EIBTM2013Next week I am attending EIBTM for the first time (see www.eibtm.com).  I believe EIBTM stands for European Incentive and Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition.  EIBTM is the global expo for the meetings and events industry, taking place 19th-21st November in Fira Gran Via, Barcelona.  There will be 3,100 exhibitors present, representing over 150 countries and 15,000 meetings industry professionals are expected to attend.  I am lucky enough to be attending as a hosted buyer.

I understand from EIBTM veteran Paul Cook of Planet Planit that it can easily take 20 minutes to navigate from one end to the other of the vast exhibition hall.  Paul sagely advised that comfortable shoes are a must!  I think my high heels will definitely be left behind in the UK.  It is worth noting that Paul Cook will be found in the Hybrid Event Genius Zone at the show this year (19th November, 1 – 3pm) – a must attend if you have any questions about hybrid events.

I am particularly looking forward to visiting the Innovation Zone which is new to the exhibition this year and I have some great appointments scheduled in throughout the show.

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumAccording to Julius Solaris of the Event Managers Blog EIBTM is a powerful networking event if you are in tech and like to do events differently, so it sounds like I will be in event heaven and come away feeling really inspired.  (Julius has posted his 10 Reasons to Attend EIBTM).

There are lots of interesting speakers and topics as part of the Education and Knowledge Programme.  I hope I will get some time for these presentations somehow within my busy schedule of meetings!

I will be sure to report back about the show in a future blog post.

Are you attending EIBTM 2013?  Have you attended the exhibition in the past?  What are your top tips for me to get the most out of the show?

Starting Out in Business > Working from Home

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumThe topic for #BEDN today is ‘Workplace.’  When I set up Events Northern Ltd in 2004 I started out working from home – first from a desk under the stairs and then from the spare room.  It made perfect sense not to burden a new company with excessive overheads and also ensured maximum productivity – no time wasted in travelling to and from work and no worries about working till all hours and then walking home alone afterwards.

It was however great when we did start renting an office to separate home and work life again.  When I worked from a home office it did feel almost like you never switched off (if indeed running your own company you ever can truly switch off?!).  Even if the phone rang at the weekend or well after hours with a home office there was always the temptation to go back into work mode and answer or otherwise be wondering who the call was from anyway!  If that same phone was ringing in your external office somewhere you wouldn’t necessarily even know it had rung until official office hours the next day.

When people discovered I worked from home back in the early days people were intrigued and often asked “how do you get any work done with all the distractions like daytime TV and housework?” and “do you work in your pyjamas?”  I found this regular line of questioning bizarre and basically insulting!  No I have never worked in my pyjamas and no working from home is not an extended weekend to get your chores done or watch Jeremy Kyle!  I realised however that it did show the complete lack of understanding most people have about setting up and running a company and reveal a lot about what some people consider “working from home.”  I can tell you it is a hell of a lot of hard work starting up in business and in my experience involves working very long hours!  Plus when you have your own company or are self employed it is up to you to pay the bills and the wages, no-one else, which is perhaps the biggest motivator.  Above all though – is daytime TV actually that good?!

Do you work from home or did you start out working from home like we did?  Do you find it difficult to switch off at the end of the working day?  Or do you find it hard to focus with so many household distractions all around you?  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Do you Need to Be an Ogre in Business?

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumToday, 13th November, is World Kindness Day and todays #BEDN topic.  In planning this post I started pondering about kindness in the world of business.  At Events Northern Ltd we always try to go the extra mile for our clients, giving that little bit extra whenever we can.  Although some would argue it is bad business practice giving away more time/effort/services than you have quoted for I would suggest that this is one of the reasons why we have such a high level of repeat business and so many fantastic long term clients.  To us it makes perfect business sense!

An age old belief has been that you have to be tough to make it in business, but do you really have to be an ogre to succeed?  Or is it actually “what goes around comes around?”

Recently I heard Rachel Elnaugh speak at a business event in Preston, Lancashire.  Rachel was the Founder of Red Letter Days and a former Dragon.  The title of her presentation was ‘The Future is Feminine’ and she suggested that everyone (male or female!) should actually get in touch more with their feminine side and repress their masculine aggressive traits.  She argued that if more people did this our businesses would be more successful and the world would be a better place to live.  Definitely food for thought!

If we all embraced the ‘Pay It Forward’ mentality (an obligation to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed that one receives) the world would certainly be a better place.

I really enjoyed this blog post: Smile and the World Smiles with You.  I agree that a smile is such an simple thing but can mean so much, particularly in the hospitality and events industry.  It is definitely the most important tool in non verbal communication and is universally understood.  A smile really can work magic and service with a smile really does make a huge difference!

 

Twitter Chats

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumTwitter chats, or tweet ups, are a great way to use Twitter to network virtually with individuals from a specific industry or with a shared interest or location.  It is a great way to find interesting people to follow and hopefully pick up a few more followers yourself too.

People come together at a set time, generally for a set hour each week and communicate by using a specific hash tag in their tweets.  It may be an open discussion for people to chat freely and ask questions or it may be more structured with some set questions throughout the hour (which may or may not be publicised in advance).

Twitter SymbolThere are a number of Twitter hours we would recommend listed below – we hope to “see” you there in future!

#BlogHour is organised by the UK Blog Awards (@ukblogawards) and takes place every Tuesday between 9 and 10 pm GMT.  It is an opportunity for anyone that blogs to come together to share hints and tips, connect and network with bloggers and to promote your blog and latest posts.  New and experienced bloggers are welcome whatever your motivation for blogging and whether you blog as an individual or on behalf of an organisation.  Click here to find out more and read their handy #BlogHour Tweeting Guidelines.  It is aimed at UK bloggers nationally although people often join from further afield too!

#EventHour was launched by Event Industry News on the 29th of May 2013 via its Twitter handle @eventnewsblog.  It takes place every Wednesday between 9 and 10 pm GMT.  Read their step-by-step guide to #Eventhour.

#LancashireHour was established in July 2012 and is a weekly Twitter Networking forum where Lancashire based individuals and businesses can interact every Thursday 8 – 9 pm GMT.  Since its creation, many #LancashireHour members have said that they’ve picked up some real new business from the contacts they’ve made and all for the price of an hour per week on a laptop, PC or mobile device. At a time when most businesses are reviewing the effectiveness of their marketing budgets, it’s hard to find a better free way to promote your business and make leads that can generate sales so effectively.  (source: http://lancashirehour.co.uk/).

#NorthWestHour connects North West people & businesses Wednesdays 8 to 9 pm and Fridays 9 to 10 pm.

#SmallBizHour runs every Tuesday between 9 and 10 pm and every small business in the UK is welcome to join in.  Follow this link for more information about #SmallBizHour.  This clashes with #BlogHour but we try to keep our eye on it and contribute when we can!

You may find this blog post from North West Business Life useful in locating other Twitter Hours relevant to the North West Region: Directory of North West Twitter Hours.

Which Twitter Hours do you find worthwhile?  Any others you would recommend we join either nationally or for the North West region?  We would welcome your thoughts and comments below!

Social Media for Women

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumOn 26th November 2013 I will be speaking at Social Media for Women 2013 (#SM4W13), in Preston, LancashireEveryone, male and female, can attend the conference but the line up of speakers are all female.

A recent survey conducted in the UK found that a greater proportion of women are using social media than men. It was also found that women who use social media, tend to be more influential both online and offline. However, the majority of speakers in this area tend to be men so #SM4W13 is taking a brave stand and reversing the trend!

sm4w13The aim of The Social Media for Women Conference is to inspire and support more people (male or female!) to feel confident in using social media and take their social media skills to a higher level. It also aims to highlight some of the inspirational women, already working with social media in a professional capacity and provide inspiration to those who would like to start their own businesses, take on more senior roles, or just be able to gain skills to support others within their communities.

The conference organisers, Liz Hardwick (www.DigiEnable.co.uk) and Jane Binnion (www.janessocialmedia.co.uk) are fantastic role models and would like to see more women speaking at professional industry conferences.  They see this as the first step to recognising and promoting female speakers, but more importantly based on their level of expertise and not their gender.

Between you and me I am really excited to be presenting, rather than organising and ensuring everything goes smoothly behind the scenes for a change!  i can’t wait to sit in the audience and immerse myself with all things social media.

I am running a workshop at #SM4W13 entitled Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day.  I amcross platform social media management passionate about the potential benefits and return from social media but as MD of Events Northern Ltd and Director of Advanced Event Solutions Ltd life is busy!  As much as I enjoy social media I know how much of a time sapper it can be and how vital it is to stay focused to ensure it is manageable for small businesses.  With this in mind back in May 2012 I created a blog post which triggered my invitation to speak at the event (follow this link to read the earlier post): Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day.

My social media journey has continued further since that original blog post but I still firmly believe that the key to social media is little and often.  In the workshop I will be sharing my top tips for how to look after your social media presence in manageable chunks, which i believe is viable even within the busiest of work and life schedules!

I am really looking forward to presenting at the event and learning from the fantastic speakers and varied programme and topics on offer.  I think there are still a few tickets left so if you want to find out more or book a place go to: http://socialmediaforwomen.co.uk

What are your top time saving tips for social media?  What are the essential social media tasks you carry out every day?  I would welcome your comments below.

Starting an Event Management Company

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumDay two of #BEDN (Blog Every Day in November) and the topic today is ‘Something You Made.’  In this post I want to share a little about setting up Events Northern Ltd, which was incorporated in 2004.

After I graduated from university (2:1 BA Hons in Event Management from Leeds Metropolitan University) I worked for event management companies in Manchester and Liverpool.  The company I worked for in Liverpool then downsized and in essence closed its events department, leaving me without a job.  I applied for a few positions but there weren’t many events jobs advertising at the time and although I somehow got a few interviews they were ideally looking for people with 5 years minimum experience and I wasn’t successful.  At the same time a plan started to form that perhaps I would set up my own event management company, which would then also give me the freedom to do things my way!

At the time of setting up the company over 9 years ago the industry seemed even more London-centric than it is today and so the name emerged as I wanted to offer quality event and conference management services across the North of England.  To this day this remains our primary market, however we have also run numerous events nationally, plus international conferences both in the UK and abroad.

I had always imagined that one day I would set up my own company and follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather (who both set up their own businesses and always worked for themselves).  I didn’t however anticipate that I would be setting up a company before I had reached my mid twenties!  At first I was very conscious of my age, thinking that it would hold me back but I soon realised that age is irrelevant as long as you are offering a quality service, and so I stopped worrying.

Early EN pictureI accessed an eight week evening class which helped me create my business plan.  For the first 6 months I worked evenings and weekends in a bar as well as for Events Northern to give me an income until the company could start paying me a wage.  Within the first week of the business I tendered for a conference working on behalf of numerous prestigious partners including Arts Council England.  It was a great boost when I won the contract and delivered a successful event, receiving lots of fantastic testimonials.  Early on I cemented our niche of conferences for the health, arts and business sectors, however we work across many sectors for very varied clients to date.  Many of my earliest clients are still clients today and most of our business comes from personal recommendations.

The events industry, technologies and business in general has changed immensely since 2004.  It is funny to think that for many years event registration forms were filled out with a pen and faxed or posted back to us to then be typed into our database (no online registration systems!) and very traditional outbound marketing was used, social media and other inbound marketing was unknown!

Early in the life of the company (2004) I won the handbag.com Barclays Business Plan Awards, under 25 category. I was also runner up in the Everywomen Business Awards in 2006.

We have organised every type of event you can think of.  Conferences are my ultimate passion and I am excited about the many developments and opportunities the event industry offers today.  Our largest project was a complex 4-day conference with a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum and a launch party at which Diversity performed.  Over a thousand international delegates attended from 100 countries worldwide and we had over 30 event management staff.  As well as the conference plenary and concurrent keynote strands there were also 80 individual workshop panels comprising over 200 presenters.

Setting up your own company is not a decision to take lightly and as well as the highs there have certainly also been darker times too, such as battling through the recession, the NHS transition and upheaval, working ridiculously long hours and testing personal relationships as a result.  However despite the trails and tribulations I believe overall I definitely made the right choice and I am proud of our achievements.

I am passionate about business and I strongly believe that more young people and people of all ages in general should consider starting their own company.  It is import to instil entrepreneurial skills and ensure that more people do realise it is an option to them.

I have enjoyed sharing a little bit about the creation of Events Northern Ltd.  Thank you for listening!