Friday, 27 May 2011

26 reasons why networking is important

Many people already heard other people say: networking is important. And then the person for instance explains how it helps in sales. But if you are not responsible for any sales results for your company you probably won’t listen.
So here is a list of 26 reasons why networking is important. These are the main reasons that we got from the thousands of participants of our networking and referral training courses and presentations.
Sales related
1) Maintaining relationship with current customers
2) Meeting new prospects
3) Getting referrals to new prequalified prospects
4) Receiving referrals to other departments at current customers
5) Word of mouth publicity
6) Creating ambassadors who will tell about you and connect you with the right prospects
Not-sales related
7) Finding a new job
8 ) Finding a new employee or colleague
9) Getting to know the right people who can help you with your career
10) Attracting the right organisations to form partnerships with
11) Notifications when there are important changes (for example when legislation changes)
12) Up-to-date information for work-related topics
13) Knowing about new trends
14) Receiving more visibility as a person or an organisation
15) Attracting more opportunities
16) Getting new ideas, new insights and new wisdom
17) Getting another perspective
18) Door openings to people you won’t be able to reach on your own
19) Enrichment in every possible way
20) Doing things with more fun
21) Developing as a person
22) Developing as an organisation
23) Attracting the right mentors
24) Having a filter (= people from your network) for the massive amounts of information on the Internet and elsewhere
25) Receiving more invitations to (the right) events as a participant, speaker or co-host
26) Security net when something happens
 26 a - When you are without a job
 26 b –  When you have too much work
 26 c – On a personal level (getting the kids out of school, help when renovating your house, babysitter, …)


Type of venue
Manchester Central mostly holds conferences and exhibitions on a variety of scales, much similar to the NEC. The venue also accommodates for gala dinners, sporting events and concerts. 


Background information
Manchester Central has recently undergone a new redevelopment, changing its name from Manchester GMEX to Manchester Central Convention Complex. The building’s origins date back to the late 1800’s when the venue served as a main train station. The venue is central to Manchester city centre with accommodation positioned next door and within walking distance to restaurants and shops. They boast a professional and luxurious 804 seat auditorium.

Facts and figures
·         The venue has recently undergone a £30 million new redevelopment
·         Iconic building of Manchester
·         Built in the 1880’s but opened in 1986
·         AEO Excellence Awards winner
·         England’s North West Tourism Award winner

Transport links
·         Main train station is Manchester Piccadilly, although it is a car ride or metro link away.
·         Metro station is five minutes’ walk away.
·         Free metro shuttle bus from the train station to the city centre.
·         Coach drop off point and taxi rank is situated right outside of the venue.
·         Direct access to the M60
·         24 hour underground car parking
·         Park and ride facilities, with free available car parking
·         Manchester Airport is 25 minutes’ drive away

Venue visit experience
The pre arrival
The drive to the venue was easily accessible by being close to main motorway networks. All signs to the venue were clear with information for 24 hour car parking clearly marked as you drove up to the venue, which also indicated the number of spaces available.

From the questions we answered on the ‘venue visit experience’ spread sheet, Manchester Central as a whole is a small but a personable venue compared to those on a much larger scale. Due to the redevelopment the venue is much more modern and inviting when you walk through the doors. Advertisements of the venue were seen on a taxi driving past which indicated the venue is seen as an icon of Manchester and its history. Advertisements of upcoming shows and exhibitions were not evident the venue. However driving up to the venue there was a large digital screen with video advertisements.

There are signs to the venue located right outside so once you walk up to the venue you are first greeted with a map, as well as the historic architecture of the building that the exhibitors we spoke to found personable and fascinating.

With regards to reaching the entrance, there were plenty of staff on hand to help and registration facilities available. However no media or information was sent via email before the exhibition and we couldn’t see an information point either, but you would just ask a member of staff or at the desk.

The venue only has one main exhibition hall when you walk through the doors, so everything is small and convenient, with toilets being easy to locate as well as the free cloakroom. The only digital signage was above the exhibition hall which looked clear and effective. There are available leaflets and clear maps on your way into the exhibition with staff on hand if needed. The walkways were clear but obviously its half the size of an NEC exhibition hall.

Once you enter the exhibition hall, the architecture is breath taking and the venue is almost seen as ‘cosy’ as it’s smaller than most halls and easy to walk round. Signs to the food court aren’t very clear but as you are walking around the venue they are easily located quickly. The food was your standard cold sandwiches, tea and coffee.

We spoke to a few of the exhibitors about what they thought of the NEC. Unfortunately it was mostly negative and surprisingly some had not even heard of the venue:
        NEC has no character, it needs that WOW factor.
       The NEC is too big and you feel lost.
       NEC is unattractive; there is nothing else to do.
       A problem with driving to the NEC is you park up and then realise the hall you need to be at is at the other side of the site.

On leaving the exhibition there was a bucket by the entrance to recycle your badges, as you find most take them home and end up throwing them away. There were designated coach stops and tram stops for the venue to avoid all travelling by car.

Because it is a small venue, exits were easy to find. On leaving no gift bags or media were given, this may have been due to the type of exhibition. Outside of the venue there are three hotels at least, opposite the venue and a short distance walk from a casino as well as restaurants, shops and bars.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Our journey toward the project NEC

Objective of the project
We were given fully responsible to make a research on what NEC can improve as the venue provider by comparing with other venue in the UK, Europe and international venue. It was a taught call for us as a student but it will challenge our creativity as student. These reflect on our innovative ideas and sell it to NEC to improve. This is not as usual assignment but it gave you opportunities to learn more on how to make a proper research and what is the best for NEC, later on the outcome from the research, we have to create a proposal and present it to the senior management NEC.

During planning, I was been given a task to make any research on earls court venue. When I did my research I found one event that really attracts me to attend the event. The reason why I choose the event was because NEC did the same event early before earls court did, so I wanted to make comparison on what aspect that NEC can improve from the event. In order to evaluate, I did my research on both venue trough their social media, .marketing strategies and other. I found out earls court is highly rated venue where it can attract more people to come especially international people such as people from china, middle east and so on. My research doesn’t stop here, I made deep research on earls court where they have won several awards such as 2010 Event Magazine Green Award. They got this award base on their sustainability initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency, recycling and waste management. We as a group decided to make a visit to NEC and one of the events which was Traffix event to look any possible ideas for NEC to improve.
·         During the visit
13th April 2011 I went to earls court to attend the event London book fair 2011. I got some email from the venue mentioning about the London book fair and what was the programme for the day. I was keen and look forward to go, I used train from Birmingham to London Euston and used underground tube to Kingston station. It took me 2 hour and half to reach there. I was quite impressed that earls court collaborate with underground tube by giving out information to the visitors who never been to earls court before just like myself. The first thing I saw at the tube station was a signage mentioning about the event going on and guide me to the venue. This gave me additional information and idea for me to implement and suggest NEC to collaborate with the train station at Birmingham international. There was lot of banner, poster and other marketing tools that been used by earls court just to attract people to come to the venue and indirectly market their venue as London destination for exhibition. I could say there is lot of aspect that NEC need to improve on such as signage, marketing and so on. The motive of this is because earls court is a small venue compares to NEC, there are using media technology such as digital advertisement, the signage is clear, and I felt welcome by them. Overall of the visit was awesome because I learn new things, unexpected marketing strategies and different approaches from other venue. I just notice, in order for us to be successful we have to think critically in term of marketing tools and other ways of approaches.

·         Other research
Right after we gather all the information from all venues that we visited, we as a group divided our task accordingly to create a better proposal that we need NEC to implement and improve. According to the proposal I was given a responsibility in doing customer experience and marketing within short term implementation. The first step that I did was getting to know more about NEC marketing style, I search toward their website, went to NEC over and over again just to confirm every marketing aspect that they did. Secondly I went to several events at NEC such as sign digital and other event on the same day. I found lot of interesting design that NEC could use such as Digiglass that print a creative signage. I contacted them and research on what can be implement at NEC. We presented this during the proposal presentation.  

·         Family friendly
I castoff the existing event that NEC used to organised which was Fun world fun fair as the short term investment toward the benefits for NEC and community in west midland. From the research that I made based on the event previously I found out there was lot of complaints and people tend to compare NEC event with winter wonderland. So I decided to make a change and create aggressive marketing method to promote the event for their future event such as apply event marketing 3’Es. Apart from my experience from winter wonderland event that I attended, I also went to Alton tower to comprehend how they market and attract people. I identified that both winter wonderland and Alton tower used social media as their main attraction to attract people to come to the venue and event. I came out with several ideas for NEC that they could use to market the event and add-on activities such as firework display that encourage people to come to the venue for their friendly family event in future which can benefits them in terms of revenue and indirectly market their venue as the destination for exhibition and event venue provider in the UK.
We as a group combined all the elements that can benefits the NEC, by combining the entire element we manage to come out with great proposal presentation. In the proposal we include all aspect of social media, customer experience in long, Medium and short term benefits, the improvement of the signage and what can NEC gives toward the communities or social responsibilities. Together with the proposal, we also include all information about our research on venues that we visited. The combination of the both venues information and proposal would help NEC to improve and guide them which area they should cover and improve so that they will be more active and productive in building their branding.
Team work
Team work is really important in this project as it can provide support from every angle of the project. We also share the experience and knowledge that we gain from this project with each other giving us further knowledge. By brain storming, comment on each and every work that we have done can create a better quality of works as well as outcome. I am so proud and thankful for giving me these opportunities to work in a group so that I could do better and produce a perfect research indeed.
What do we learn from the project
I have learn lot of things in this project, I gain knowledge in creating more networks, interacting with companies in order to further my research, having a different prospectus ideas from what we had before. This also helps me to combine the research methodology both qualitative and quantitative as the main reasons of this research. It is not only about the knowledge that we gained, but we were been given an opportunities to expose our self to the real event world and explore what is new, implementing event new approaches and others. If we can gain all this new approaches and knowledge, fortunately we could produce a Wow factor event in future.

Project Team Roles & Responsibilities

Project Team Roles & Responsibilities



Steering Committee

Executive Sponsor

Aplicor Sponsor

Project Leader

Account Manager


Data Center
& SA

Steering Committee    

The project Steering Committee includes management and other executive level stakeholders that will be directly impacted by the success or outcome of the CRM project. During the implementation, the Steering Committee will reach consensus or influence the most strategic objectives for CRM adoption as well as approve the implementation scope, approach, time frame and budget. Due to the relatively short duration of the actual software CRM implementation, the Steering Committee will incur more time and emphasis on CRM adoption, utilization, measurement and refinement. Post software implementation activities will include:
  1. Confirming all customer information is being centrally stored, shared and made available
  2. Verifying the users’ are actually using, benefiting by and endorsing the system
  3. The information is being correctly organized and processed for operational support and analysis,
  4. Information is accurate, available and in proper format or structure so that customers are better served, are spoken to with uniformity across the organization (a consistent message regardless of who’s speaking) and customer service consistent

These individuals will include the executive level stakeholders, Project Leader, Project Manager, Lead Consultant, Finance and MIS management and sometime key users.  These individuals are responsible for reviewing the progress of the implementation, understanding the current issues, resolving critical issues, providing vision of future business opportunities and direction, and supporting the efforts through moral support of the entire project team.

Steering Committee responsibilities include the following:
·         Corporate-wide data sharing: Clearly sponsoring the organization’s customer information and data sharing strategy, which states that customer information is to be centralized and available throughout the organization (based on need and security pending) for sharing in order to promote effectiveness and better service the customer. This information strategy further prohibits individuals or groups from operating silo systems, shadow systems or other disconnected or standalone systems or systems which do not result in customer information being put in the designated CRM system.
·         Provide interpretation of company or project vision, direction and execution of objectives.
·         Provide project oversight and guidance on strategic issues and direction.
·         Make decisions which can change project organization, project scope, or allocation of project funding.
·         Ensure that the direction of the project continues to be in line with the original mission and goals set forth at the beginning of the project.
·         Support the project team in the resolution of cross-functional areas.
·         Keep informed of project status; ask questions to ensure accurate understanding.
·         Deliver regular feedback to the project team on performance and expectations.
·         Provide input for Project Leader and Project Manager periodic appraisal.

Executive Sponsor

The Executive Sponsor can be a liaison from the Project Team to the Steering Committee for a large project or can act as a substitute for a formal Steering Committee for a small project. The Executive Sponsor (often the VP of Sales, Director of Sales, President or Operations Manager) monitors the activities and progress of the Project Leader and Project Team. This individual is responsible for communicating project status to the Steering Committee, ensuring milestones are completed in a timely fashion, and providing the overall supervision of the employees assigned to the project.  Additional responsibilities include being the primary contact for issues and questions from the Project Team as well as review and monitoring of the project plan milestones.

Other specific responsibilities may include:

·         Liaison to Steering Committee; Keep Steering Committee and project stakeholders updated as to project status, progress and/or any deviations.
·         Identify and secure all required project team members for the project (e.g. Functional Champions, Key Uses, System Administrator.)
·         Verify the dedicated participation of each required project team client representative (available to commit full-time during peak periods or coverage and backfill of team members particular areas).
·         Regularly review project status and emerging risks and select/approve potential solutions from those presented.
·         Provide direction on prioritization of emerging issues and risks.
·         Provide advice and council on major project and policy decisions.
·         Ensure the appropriate project team members and key decision makers are identified and available to fulfill their project responsibilities.
·         Identify and secure access to additional end user staff as needed to support specific areas of expertise not represented by the project team.
·         Provide informal project status and communications to project team members and various user communities.

Project  Leader

This role will require an individual with strong management and communication skills who understands the operation and objectives of the CRM implementation. It is possible to have an outside consultant or vendor consultant and internal person that share the Project Leader responsibilities, however, advance planning must dictate specific roles and responsibilities. The Project Leader is the person responsible for the overall project planning and progress toward the implementation.  This individual is responsible for monitoring, maintaining, and adjusting the project plan (based on the input and deliverables of team members), providing implementation experienced leadership strategies to the Executive Sponsor, and ensuring the effectiveness of the application consultants assigned to the project.  Other responsibilities include reviewing and assisting in issue resolution, coordinating task dependencies, and establishing milestone project goals that keep the project on time and within budget.

Other specific responsibilities may include:

·         Conduct or facilitate the Implementation Project Kick-off and Status meetings.
·         Manage the customer relationship with the vendor.
·         Confirm solid understanding of corporate objectives and expectations; if necessary, reset objectives and expectations.
·         Approve the implementation schedule and project plan.
·         Measurement of plan vs. actual with variance analysis.
·         Continually monitor scope, time frame, budget and risk.
·         Manage project resources to assure maximum efficiency, effectiveness and resource utilization.
·         Manage consultants on project.
·         Periodic risk management – project risks and people risks – and development of mitigating strategies. Significant or high impact risks should be addressed with the Executive Sponsor.
·         Recognize change management issues and risks; develop recommendations and mitigating strategies.
·         Periodically measure and confirm stakeholder, Executive Sponsor, Champion, Key User and System Administrator satisfaction.

Functional Champions / Team Leads

Functional Champions or Team Leads spearhead an individual functional area (such as SFA, Marketing, Customer Service, or a particular line of business). These individuals are stakeholders from the department or line of business most affected by the module (e.g., SFA), have complete domain area knowledge and are dedicated to the project (and generally relieved of traditional day-to-day responsibilities for departmental operations while participating on their area of the project) for the project duration. Functional Champions must be empowered to make decisions for their domain area and their user community. They lead the configuration efforts and decisions during the Conference Room Pilot (CRP) phase with each software module. They further determine the current and anticipated transaction flows within the software module.  Their primary objective is to gather process and configuration information from the key users and define the business system based on that information. These individuals may develop process flowcharts for the existing and new system processes, develop methods of resolving process gaps, identify report and data requirements for the respective modules to support the end users, and identify data conversion requirements to support their modules. Functional Champions are responsible for module testing, coordinating and facilitating key user meetings, scheduling key users for system tests, preparing process documents, approving training documentation, and ultimate training of the end users. Some of the major responsibilities for this role are as follows:

·         Understand the “as is” environment and provide functional expertise and knowledge of the existing business practices.
·         Responsible for the successful configuration, processing and implementation of functional area software modules.
·         Reconciliation of user requirements to the new system capabilities.
·         Liaison between user community and project team; Act as a mentor and liaison to other users of that functional area.
·         Represent the user interests in system design and software configuration decisions.
·         Design and configuration of software parameters for each module.
·         Identify and implement business process improvements and changes.

System Administrator (SA)    

In order to take and maintain ownership of CRM utilization and long term success, the client must appoint an internal System Administrator (SA). Although technical experience is not required, the SA is a more technical resource to the project team and actively involved throughout the implementation project and post production processing. The SA will utilize tools built in to the Aplicor CRM system for all or almost all SA functions. All CRM applications that operate on a relational database management system (RDBMS) require skilled SA’s for steady operation.

  • Configuration & Setup:
    • Data importing: Validate cleanliness of data, scrub data and perform imports of accounts, contacts and/or opportunities into the CRM system (e.g. uploading user’s data from prior systems (such as ACT)). Reconcile and verify import results.
    • Web site configuration options: Selecting available option for system-wide utilization; such as system logo upload, splash page selection or updating of cascading style sheet (CSS).
    • Portal User Interface (UI) management: Assist management or users with the customization or modification of Menus and menu navigation.
  • Implementation:
    • User and role management: The creation, modification and removal of all user’s and roles within the CRM system. Resetting user passwords when necessary.
    • Security administration: Assigning and managing overall system security, user security and account-level security.
    • Field level data list management and UDF configuration: Assist management or Functional Champions with determining or modifying acceptable values from all data list fields throughout the CRM application and assigning or utilizing User-Defined Fields (UDFs) at each page.
    • Document Library configuration.
    • System training: Provide initial training to staff, and new-hires on an ongoing basis, for system usage.
    • Query management: Provide users training to create or modify queries throughout the system (using Query Manager and Query Builder).
  • Management & Administration:
    • Troubleshooting: Provide first level response to user issues or problems. Most issues or problems that are user-oriented will be resolved by SA, all other issues and problems may be escalated to the Aplicor Helpdesk.
    • User view management: Assist user’s with creation or modification of individual CRM views.
    • Monitor system usage: Verify utilization and enterprise-wide access (subject to business need and security) and viewing of customer information.
    • Continued user and role Management: Updating memberships and deleting outdated users and roles.
    • Resetting user passwords.

CRM Application Consultants

CRM consultants require thorough software product suite skills along with a detailed understanding of the particular software modules assigned. The application consultants are expected to provide functionality information and guide the implementation of the assigned modules. Their experience with the modules provides options of configuration, process designs, options for gap and issue resolution, training to the Functional Champions, hands on task completion support and troubleshooting support for software issues. The application consultants will also provide for knowledge transfer to the key users during the User Training phase and prior to reaching a production environment. Some of the major responsibilities for this role are as follows:

·         Provide input on task status and estimates to complete to the Team Leader
·         Spearhead the Conference Room Pilot configuration for each module(s)
·         Conduct analysis of business, transaction and individual user requirements
·         Conduct Business Process Analysis for the assigned module(s)
·         Resolve how the software will apply to the customers needs
·         Performing Functional Champion training; conduct software training for the module(s) assigned
·         Offer suggestions for process improvement
·         Outline new business procedures or processes
·         Confirm application test case scenarios, lead the process testing and analyze the test results
·         Guide conversion efforts and strategies
·         Lead the cut-over preparation, testing and verification
·         Report software bugs and aggressively follow-up on fixes
·         Provide post implementation support
·         Identify and resolve open issues

All Project Team Members

Every project team member has a fiduciary duty to make a proactive and positive contribution to the project.  All team members are ‘owners’ of the project and the new system and are personally accountable for taking charge of their respective areas and promoting the project to their user communities and colleagues.

Project Team member duties include the following:

  • Provide input to process improvement ideas
  • Review circulated correspondence; provide feedback as required
  • Identify high impact / high return opportunities within respective areas
  • Proactively ask questions and offer input
  • Attend every Project Team status meeting; recognize the importance of this project to the organization
  • Keep Project Stakeholders updated
  • Act as liaison and constituent for represented user community:  Keep user community informed of project status and progress, provide a mechanism for users to contribute to project and voice suggestions for improvement
  • Contribute to the solution: never offer criticism without suggestion.  Team members must be contributors, not listeners

Project Office

·         Provide day to day project management and oversight of the project.
·         Track project status and provide status reporting
·         Promote adherence to the project schedule
·         Track issues and manage the resolution process
·         Define change and risk management strategies to assure early identification and complete, expeditious resolution;
·         Provide a framework for developing fundamental project management skills in the project team to ensure effective tracking of project status;

Lead Application Consultant

This role will require an individual with strong communication skills, technical skills, application expertise and business experience.  The role of the Lead Application Consultant is to manage the project implementation to meet the agreed upon requirements and timeframe.  In order to be successful in this role, the role will have the following responsibilities:

·         Approve all application consultants to be placed on the project team
·         Provide overall and daily management and support to all application consultants assigned to the project
·         Review and verify each consultants time and expense report for accuracy
·         Define roles and responsibilities for each application consultant
·         Work with the Project Leader and Project Manager to learn and manage the implementation to meet the agreed upon project objectives
·         Work with the users and other software publisher resources as required, and resolve queries and issues on an ad hoc basis
·         Notify management of requirements for resources in order to provide sufficient lead times for resources to be made available
·         Make timely decisions regarding the project priorities in order to minimize disruption on the project
·         Overall responsibility for assuring the quality of work conducted by their representative consultants
·         Attend all Implementation Project Status meetings

Technical Analysts

Ideally, there is one Technical Application Analyst for each module.  These individuals generally come from the MIS area, are dedicated to the project and relieved of day-to-day responsibilities for departmental operations:

·         Assist with reconciliation of user requirements to system capabilities
·         Identification / design / development of required system interfaces
·         Identification /design /development of required data conversion routines
·         Modification of software applications forms/reports using publisher tools
·         Development of working knowledge of the software application table structures/data base functionality
·         System test planning and assistance to users in the execution of the system testing process
·         Support for User Application Analyst tasks as necessary

Focus Groups

·         Support the project team by actively participating in the research and resolution of project issues
·         Support the project team by actively participating in the assessment of configuration alternatives during the realization phase
·         Engage actively in the generation of business case scenarios and the development of test scripts
·         Participate, as required, in the execution and validation of test scripts