30 May 2012 By Northern Lights
I attended a truly inspiring event yesterday. It is so rare to go to anything where all aspects deliver and I have been analysing why this event worked so well – and what are the ingredients that we can all learn from.
1. Put your audience first
The event was organised by The Yorkshire Mafia and WEConnect.
I wasn’t aware that there is a law in the US to state that corporates must have a programme in place to buy from a diverse range of suppliers. WEConnect was set up to help Fortune 500 and large corporates find and do business with 51% women-owned businesses.
This has now gone global and yesterday’s event was part of the European initiative to help large corporates buy from women-owned businesses. We had buyers from Asda, HSBC and the government department, DWP, sharing how to approach, tender and contract with them.
This was one of the most genuine events I remember in a long time. Yorkshire Mafia has its heart in helping Yorkshire businesses to win contracts; WEConnect is a not-for-profit organisation that is absolutely committed to helping women-owned businesses get great contracts; and the speakers were the most open, transparent and helpful that I can remember in years.
Too many events are about ‘us’ – the organisers. This one put its audience first and thought ‘how do we ensure these businesses are going to leave here with genuine help and contacts?’.
2. Get genuine speakers
The only shame about the event was that we had to split up for workshops – and I only heard the DWP and HSBC speakers in the panel session. However, all the speakers genuinely wanted to help us. They were honest about what was and wasn’t likely to succeed; why they were doing this; and the best way to contact them.
There was no ‘fluff’ or ‘corporate speak’ during the sessions – it was solid, practical help. The advice was a goldmine that you could take years to research and learn.
3. Have a practical venue
The event was hosted in The Yorkshire Mafia’s new building, The Leeds Club at 3 Albion Place. The rooms are spacious and airy, plenty of room to network, good seating and coffees and teas were fine.
OK, if I’m being picky it was hot and we had the windows open – which was great – but there was a busker outside our window and someone was making deliveries across the way. To be honest, you didn’t care because the content of the event was so good.
4. Ensure your delegates match the event
How many events have you been to where you felt half the audience were just there to sell? This audience had been pre-qualified so they were just women business owners – and therefore completely focused on the content of the event. This meant the questions were of excellent quality and we were all learning from each other through the probing and panel feedback.
5. Top class content
The event was simple and well structured. The content logical and each speaker added layers to the information and advice. It was all absolutely relevant and no-one started trying to ‘sell’ inappropriately.
And of course, for the speakers this worked as the best PR they could do. I suspect everyone in the audience is impressed at the thinking and approaches of their companies – they didn’t need to sell, their quality made us all think better of their organisations.
Thanks to everyone who organised this event. I am registering our own business at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/self-registration plus Welcometraining – I’m also a director of this 51% women-owned business.
WEConnect is happy to advise on how your own business can sell to corporates – such as forming consortia and putting you in touch with like-minded businesses.
Were you at the event – did it work for you? And what do you think makes for great events?
Really glad you loved the venue! This subject is really topical at the moment and it’s great that people in this country are starting to take note of this more and are actually doing something about it. I’ve been to a few events recently aimed at developing the confidence and performance of women in the corporate world, with the aim to eventually have more gender balanced boards and therefore better business outcomes. I think the two approaches work hand in hand. Did other women who came to this event agree?