Christmas jumpers on, business cards in hand, and a festive stall unpacked, the Knapton Wright team were ready to take Business Hive Live by storm earlier this month.
Hosted by Grimsby Business Hive and taking place at Grimsby Auditorium, the event is a key date in the diaries of many Lincolnshire businesses. Hundreds of companies from across the area came together to network and promote their products and/or services, and we enjoyed meeting both new and familiar faces throughout the day.
Our team were out in full force, with all five of us greeting people at our stall and Alex and Jonathan taking to the main stage for a guest talk in the afternoon. Our aim this year was to underline the importance of preparation when it comes to marketing, encouraging businesspeople to start putting the groundwork in for their Christmas and 2019 campaigns now (if they hadn’t already).
For those of you who missed Alex and Jonathan’s interesting talk, check out our blog on Christmas marketing ideas for digital success for some useful tips.
As an agency which is built on strong, mutually beneficial relationships, we thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and learning about their business, as well as their personal passions and hobbies. This meant Business Hive Live was an excellent day out for the team, who were also able to listen to a variety of fascinating keynote speakers, including the charismatic Olympic swimmer Steve Parry and inspirational Gandy brothers.
Below, our team reflects on the day: what they enjoyed, who they met and what takeaways they had from the event.
A day out with the Knapton Wright team always promises to be interesting, and Business Hive Live did not disappoint. It was excellent to see so many people talking about our stand, even if we were known as the weirdos appearing to celebrate Christmas in early-October!
We were able to speak to some really interesting people from a variety of industries, which is always a fascinating experience. At these kinds of events, it’s easy to get bogged down in the freebies and competitions – who doesn’t love a free pen and stress ball? – but the best thing to come from them is the conversations, relationships and networks you build and maintain by attending.
I was fortunate enough to sneak away from our stand in the morning to attend Rob and Paul Forkan’s – aka the Gandy Brothers’ – keynote speech. Their story is truly incredible: going from barely surviving the 2004 tsunami, a disaster that tragically killed their parents, at the age of 13 and 11 to creating a hugely successful global brand is a phenomenal achievement and one that no doubt inspired and motivated the Business Hive Live crowd. Anyone intrigued to hear more about their story should consider buying their book, Tsunami Kids: Our Journey from Survival to Success.
Speaking of speeches, I also enjoyed attending Alex and Jonathan’s talk: Don’t Fear the Ads, They’re the Gift that Keeps on Giving. As someone who has often heard Alex’s speeches, it was refreshing to see him deliver one with a partner in crime as Jonathan joined him on stage for his public speaking debut.
We really put some time into finding a way to stand out this year, but with substance to the style. Talking about marketing for Christmas – but with the premise that thinking about it now can serve your activities well in 2019 – made people take note and we saw a lot of interest.
It was great to meet so many different businesses and share knowledge and stories around expertise and forward planning. The day culminated, for me, in doing a talk with Alex all about Facebook Ads and how, much like dogs, they’re not just for Christmas. The festive season can be great for sales or it can be a dry time but understanding that and positioning your content to either keep people warm or sell to them is imperative.
I wrote a blog about my four key takeaways from my public speaking debut and I’d like to do more of this in the future. After that, I settled in to listen to Steve Parry and his engaging talk on how he came to win an Olympic medal and start a successful business. The drive and, arguably more importantly, his commitment was an inspiring end to the day. The team certainly got a lot out of it and we’ll hopefully be there to enjoy it next year!
Stereotypically, you might expect this type of event to be dominated by somewhat self-congratulatory local business people, slapping each other on the back, delighted to be networking and upstaging their contemporaries with their success stories. Maybe that’s how it used to be, but as a relative newcomer to the Northern Lincolnshire business arena, I found this event to be almost the polar opposite. It was, in fact, incredibly inclusive, friendly and diverse.
Stands run by multi-national banking corporations were pitched beside those representing local charities, and each delegate was as friendly as the next. During the day I met eager students, creative sole traders and more mature people starting the business they’ve always dreamed of. I put faces to names, and despite the inescapable fact that each business/charity was there to increase their bottom line, everyone I spoke to seemed genuinely keen to help out fellow Northern Lincolnshire businesses. We were all proud to be local and want our area to thrive.
The keynote speakers had been very carefully chosen – business-minded enough to complement the event and appeal to attendees, yet also inspiring, insightful and funny. No one who heard them could have failed to leave the venue without a positive vision for the future of their organisation, and furthermore, a very positive impression of the variety, expertise and enthusiasm of business in Northern Lincolnshire.
Honestly, events like this normally ignite a certain apprehension for me. Speaking to people I don’t know about new topics I’m only somewhat familiar with is an activity which would usually put me on edge. This day was different. Maybe it was the Christmas jumper, or perhaps it was the fact that I could half hide behind a Christmas tree, but I felt quite at ease with my stay behind the Knapton Wright table.
As ever, I felt completely supported by my team. I know the extent of their expertise, their friendliness and helpfulness, and I was more than happy to keep them involved in the conversations I was having. However, this is only part of what made the day so great. The business people I spoke to were so friendly and easy to talk to that it wasn’t a struggle to start the conversation. I found myself handing out water bottles, presents and chocolates to anyone that said hello – like some warped version of Santa Claus.
To top it all off, the speakers I managed to attend were fantastic. Alexis Powell-Howard from Fortis gave an excellent and informative talk on how to manage stress. Not only was the information engaging but it was also directly applicable to life at work. I was happy to write up my notes from her talk and share them with the team, encouraging them to manage their mental health and stress.
The day was brilliantly rounded off by the inspiring talk given by Steven Parry. His self-deprecating yet honest portrayal of his life’s experiences was certainly relevant to everyone at the event. By the time I left the Grimsby Auditorium, I felt motivated, inspired and much more confident for future networking events.
Two years ago, I was one of the keynote speakers at Business Hive Live, encouraging business owners and employees alike to learn from the people-first approach of Facebook and other similarly “new” businesses – finishing with the advice that Facebook’s success as an employer was built on beer and t-shirts. I learned from the conversations I had that day and in the many since that North East Lincolnshire has a really strong, thriving business community, which was why I was keen to have a presence again this year, having missed out in 2017 due to a clash with a client’s annual conference.
My expectations were high; I’d spoken to Sam and Jo, who spearheaded the planning and running of the annual BHL event, and was really looking forward to the speakers they had booked, as well as throwing my team into the non-stop networking intensity that the day itself brings.
Did the day deliver? It did indeed. I managed to miss the Gandy Brothers, so I got the lowdown from colleagues, but there was no way I was missing Steve Parry.
Having watched him (on TV) take bronze in 2004, I wanted to know his story. I love the links between sport and business and will grab any excuse to immerse myself in it! Added to my recent meetings with Martin Johnson and Sir Clive Woodward, I’m enjoying soaking up their knowledge and transferring it into my own business, and life in general if truth be told.