A Focal Point For Business Week

The MY Conference, for many, is at the heart of business week. Set mid way through the week-long celebration, it always promises a diverse mix of exhibitors alongside informative speakers.

This year was no different and did not disappoint, with 45 exhibitors and seven speakers sharing their skills and knowledge. Topics varied from networking, making connections and cyber security through to digital marketing, social media and business growth.

A panel discussion on ‘Why Wakefield’ also promised a lively debate, whereby attendees could put their questions to a panel of experts.

On arrival there was a real buzz about the place, this was definitely enhanced by the venue and the local relevance of exhibitors. If the number of people chatting in the aisles – and also in the room set aside for making connections – had anything to go by, this was definitely the place for networking.MY Conf 1 RS

The Networking Differentiator was delivered by Martin Haigh from Latitude7. Pretty much doing what it said on the tin, and appropriate considering the conference, this first event focused on networking.

Simple yet informative this session packed in a great deal in just 20 minutes. Reinforcing the positives associated with networking, from building confidence to expanding your social circle, this session also looked at the pitfalls too. This combination reinforced the top tips for natural networkers that connect with ease, but also provided valuable insight for those that struggle to embrace the art of networking.

From body language to asking questions, here are the top tips that we took from Martin’s event:

1. Displaying the wrong type of confidence could make the wrong impression; just like dominating the conversation, it could mean that you come across as arrogant.

2. Asking the right questions will go a long way in helping you connect quickly and with ease. Think about what you can ask in advance and stick to open questions. Ultimately, when it comes to networking it’s important to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in other people.

3. Networking is more than words. Shake hands (make it firm, but not too firm!), make eye contact and don’t forget to smile. Remember it takes just seven seconds to make an impression.

4. Consider the five whys when it comes to asking questions – who, what, where, why and when.

5. Prepare an elevator pitch – communicate details of your business in an interesting and engaging way.

6. Make sure you follow-up, after all this could lead to opportunities you didn’t even realise were available to you.

Melanie Oldham from Bob’s Business delivered Top 10 Cyber Security Tips. Now, this session definitely made us want to run back to the office and change all of our passwords!

Quick to reiterate the benefits of technology, Melanie reminded delegates that when it comes to tech it isn’t always good, especially when we are a nation that are far too trusting and all too eager to share.

When it comes to password security, there’s a handful of do’s and don’ts!

DO keep passwords secure and make sure they are strong, but DON’T share, display or use the same password across different platforms and applications.

Oldham also reminded delegates to think before you click – keep your privacy settings on lock down to keep your accounts secure.

Digital was presented as the Secret to Happier Customers and Healthier Profits, when Dan Conboy from Statement took to the stage.

Opening with a fact – that 87% of shopper’s research before visiting a store set the tone of the presentation. Whilst tech is an opportunity this, in some instances, also presents problems. From the silo approach created when people use digital but not in the right way, through to websites that put people off by talking about themselves all of the time.

Dan reinforced the importance of understanding the needs of the customer, creating and promoting relevant content. This can be supported by ‘good’ websites that help to capture data so that customers can be targeted with relevant information.

Keeping in touch through smart marketing and personalised engagement were also noted as ways to put customers first.

A great morning session that set the tone for the rest of the day – simple, informative tips that can add value and make a real difference to business.

The afternoon session kicked off with The 4 Suits to Success by Paul Kerfoot aka ‘The Bulletman’. With 25 years’ industry experience as Creative Director of Bulletpoint Design, Paul explored the secret formula to success and happiness in life, work and everything in between.

Working with a pack of playing cards, delegates had to think of a goal and then decide if they were a Heart, Clubs, Spade or Diamond.

The motivational speech left delegates feeling like anything is possible if you have the right attitude, plus the time and resources to make it happen.

Paul’s personal goal was to own a toy shop. He’s always enjoyed traditional board games and feels like the younger generation have missed out as we all focus far too much on computer games. Paul showed that if you put his theory into practice you can achieve your dream – he now works weekends in his own (admittedly small!) toy shop.

Helping Wakefield Business Grow consisted of Pat Coffey of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Tom Martin of Eric Richmond Ltd, the award-winning pie maker. With a background in project managing high profile retail developments, Pat talked about the growth potential of businesses within the Wakefield district and how they can work with the LEP to meet their ambitions.

Showing what support the LEP can give to local businesses, Tom shared his own business story, exploring the ups and downs that he has faced throughout his career and encouraged others to use government funding to their advantage.

The afternoon session ended with Michelle Whaite, Founder and Director of the Leaders-Ship Training Solutions, taking to the stage for Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.

The insightful session explored how businesses can reach their full growth potential through communicating better with colleagues, customers and suppliers. Talking through how a person can become more influential, the art of ethical persuasion and connecting with others, delegates gathered a better understanding of their current level of effectiveness and walked away with the knowledge on how to increase it.

Ending with the opportunity for delegates to network for a further 30 minutes and put some of the tips that they have learnt into practice, MY Conference was an enjoyable event, but more importantly it gave businesses insightful advice and plenty of confidence.

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