Eye Contact, Hand Shakes and Smiles!

This blog is a summary of my year-long journey of business events, talks and networking activities. Of which, have conveniently linked in with a module I am completing in college.

In total, I have attended two professional events, listened to eight talks and interacted with several individuals across a plethora of industries.

Prior to beginning my module of Small Business Management (SBM), I had attended a talk by Shane Ryan titled “Mental Health and Entrepreneurship” at DIT, Aungier street. After the talk, I approached Shane to ask for his details, expressing interest in the area and talking of the possibility of sending him an email in the future.

I felt it beneficial to engage with a person of professional and academic experience in the area of entrepreneurship, hoping to gain some information to help complete my Final Year Project, which is on the topic of Lean Startups.

Shane did in-fact provide some valuable help to me. Soon after I sent him an email asking his advice, or help on the topic of Lean Startups, he sent me information regarding a conference for Lean Productivity.

Without his help, I would not have come across such an event. This was a professional event, as such, students rarely associate in circles of professionals, therefore without his help I would not have had access to this information. This shows the importance of networking and network ties to gain access to information that may not otherwise be gained.

I began my SBM class after my Christmas break, where I was pleasantly surprised by my enthusiastic, passionate and engaging lecturer, which was supported by an assignment to go and engage with professionals at the conference.

This event was in-fact a triplet of conferences, held in conjunction with one another. The primary conference was The National Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference, which was supported by The Lean Productivity and Continuous Improvement Summit, and The National Sustainability Summit. All of which are of particular interest to me.

Citywest Hotel, 31st January: (3000+ people)

The entire exhibition hall of the Citywest hotel was taken up by exhibitions of SMEs, with several stages dotted throughout, where seminars were continually taking place.

My lecturer for SBM spoke of the importance of such events to SMEs. The SMEs with exhibitions have specific customers, such as logistics companies, therefore traditional marketing strategies cannot be applied, instead these events are vital for the interactions between SMEs and customers.

I had interacted with a few people from the exhibition stands, however, most were of little interest, as people were there to do business, not talk to a student. I could feel the competitiveness of the arena, people brushing shoulders, initiating important individuals with the hope of getting something in return.

However, it amazed me the repetitiveness of the exhibition stands.

My first useful interaction was with a woman from ILDANA consulting. Her name was Jean Roberts, she ran training courses for companies to up-skill workers, specializing in electrical, mechanical and six sigma. Although this was interesting, I took her business card and details but declined to be added to a mailing list.

My second interaction was with Maria Ryan, a consultant from Crystal Lean Solutions. Maria specializes in training, consulting, and gaining access to funding for SMEs and startups, Particularly in developing Lean/Six Sigma systems.

We spoke about her career and applicability of her consultants to startups, the area which is of most interest to me.

In my previous post, Colm spoke of the unnecessary resources that are spent on Lean Teams. However, Maria’s business is essentially an independent ‘Lean Team’.

I would consider Maria’s consultancy a useful organisation, however, these Lean principles are of value in certain functional areas within companies, and as such, should only be carefully assessed before attempting to bring in such consultants.

I took Maria’s business card and company details.

My third interaction at this conference was with Emmet Kearney. Emmet gave a talk on Process Improvement, which was more interesting due to his presentation skills, rather than the content of the lecture. Emmet had also mentioned Crystal Lean Consulting in his lecture, which shows the networking effects involved in industries.

I approached Emmet after the lecture. Emmet spoke to me about his career decisions, his views on academic Vs professional experience and also spoke of ‘start-up weekends‘.

This was another bit of information which I would not have come across, if I had not engaged in the networking activity. A startup weekend would be another activity which one could gain a lot of experience from, with minimal risk involved.

Emmet also gave me the advice to take risks. He explained that finding opportunities is sometimes about taking risks, be that in networking via social media, approaching individuals or closing the sale.

I requested and received Emmet’s business card.

Market Hotel, 14th February (Valentine’s Day): (300+ People)

I had enjoyed my first conference so much, I had decided I would attend a second event. Another individual in my class couldn’t find a conference, so I had searched and found the Dublin BIC Scaling and Funding Series.

This was exactly where I may possibly end up one-day, so I decided to throw myself in the deep-end.

The event saw about 300 individuals in the Marker Hotel, with a series of continuous talks containing information about their start-ups so far and finance opportunities. However, the funding opportunities are particularly difficult (and boring) to write about. While only one speaker’s content held any real value to me.

This may be down to specialty of the event, clearly aimed at startups, who may well be seeking tax incentives or other finance opportunities.

Before the event started, I approached my two class colleagues who had just been approached by a gentleman called Morgan O’Regan, the Commercial Branch Manager of Bank of Ireland on Grand Canal Square.

The conversation seemed one sided on the part of Morgan, so I engaged with him about his profession and he spoke about operating an open work-space on Grand Canal Square. This interested me, I often spend a lot of time in the library, so understanding how open work-spaces function and engaging in the community is something I would hope to do in the future.

I requested Morgan’s business card, which I then received.

The BIC Scaling & Funding series was not a big event, although it was insightful into the entrepreneurial community and opportunities available. It was less competitive than my previous event, more individuals looking to learn and grow. It was to help start-ups reach their next stage, find access to funding and to surge their motivation back into the company.

Upon reflection, I could see vast differences between the two events. One was an established industry with a lot of competition, with front-line sales people attempting to push their company. While the other were small start-ups, which were just surviving and hoping to find a break somewhere. The BIC was more of a safe zone, for communicating, learning and growing.

I will most definitely keep an eye on the BIC and GEC in the near future.

I have since added Maria, Emmet and Morgan on LinkedIn.

Don’t let your limits challenge you, Challenge your limits.

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