What better way to connect with local businesses than in the beautiful Victorian splendour of Shendish Manor. Situated in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, Shendish Manor Hotel and Golf Course–to use it’s full title–was the pleasurable location of the annual Hertfordshire Business Expo.
I had known about HertsExpo as it’s affectionately known a few years back when I met up with Simon George, local entrepreneur and director of The Buzzing Media Group who also publish The Hertfordshire Business Independent magazine.
However, I’d not made time to go until this year when Keri my marketing assistant knowing our new strategy of focusing more on local business booked me onto the event–and onto a speed networking session–more on that later.
After being warmly welcomed I was ushered into the exhibition area with around 50 local businesses aiming to connect with potential customers.
Now, it’s very difficult to know how things will go at these events. Will you connect with the right people? Will you find yourself spending too much time with more pushy sales people in markets you have no need of?
As it happened it was a pleasure chatting to various businesses. From cyber security, to serviced offices, from telecoms to pay per click advertising businesses I managed to have some good conversations and make some connections. I even bumped into one of our newer clients The Forum Partnership who also attended for the first time.
Attending events like these provides a target-rich environment for relationship development. I wouldn’t say there was a connection that jumped out at me as one I absolutely must follow up on, but with the seven touchpoints of marketing a first touch is a good start.
What are the seven touchpoints of marketing? Studies show that on average it takes seven engagements with a prospect to change that person from someone who has never heard of you or your company to someone who is ready to do business with you. These touches can come in many forms - direct mail, email, social media, phone calls, member organisations, speaking engagements and of course networking at events just like HertsExpo.
I’d not been to an official speed networking event before so this was an interesting experience. The setup is around 8 tables each with mostly 7-8 people representing their businesses. One person takes the lead and officiates the table with each person having 60 seconds to give their pitch. Then it passes round to the next person until each has had their say.
If the pitch is over well before the 60 seconds, there’s time for questions, but at the very least you can take notes on those you want to connect with and follow up with them afterwards.
It’s an interesting process and I must have heard from around 35 businesses which may never have crossed my path otherwise. Several I have since followed up with on LinkedIn.
All in all it was a worthwhile event to get in front of other local businesses especially as we continue to shift from international and London-centric clients to a more local, St Albans and Hertfordshire-based audience.
It was a well organised event–though I would expect nothing less from Simon George!
I definitely recommend it next year if you have a local business. Find out more from the website at http://www.thehertfordshirebusinessexpo.co.uk .