Whoever said that being an exhibition manager was easy, lied! Rather, it should be classified under the tough and demanding job category. But along with being tough, it’s also fun, exciting, exhilarating, stimulating, and never, ever boring. You have the opportunity to go to exotic places, stay in luxurious hotels, and experience life from a totally different angle. Who could ask for anything more? For those of you ready to shoot me at this point, know that I fully understand your pain!
The purpose of this article is to look at ten skills that help make a super successful exhibition manager, and how you can take this expertise and use it to enhance the great job you’re already doing.
1. Planning and organising
The most common reason exhibitions go wrong lies in the simple fact that not enough time is devoted to adequate planning and preparation. And many of those exhibitions that are believed to have been successful are often more by chance than through actual organisation. Super successful exhibition managers have a strategic exhibition marketing and tactical plan of action. They then use the following five basic questions as their foundation before making any arrangements:
- Where does this show fit into our corporate marketing strategy?
- Why are we exhibiting?
- What are we exhibiting?
- Who is our target audience?
- What is our budget?
2. Taking care of details
So much of putting a tradeshow together means taking care of the details, and there are usually more of these than you care to think about. Being detail-oriented is a definite plus. The key to an exhibition manager’s success is having a system that works. Creating checklists is one of the best I know. With the hundreds of pieces that make up the tradeshow puzzle, the only way to put them together and keep tabs on all the details, is with a checklist. Become a checklist fanatic and consider having a checklist for each checklist. I’m getting dizzy just thinking about it.
3. Practicing savvy marketing
A significant part of a successful exhibition manager’s role involves developing a pre-show, at-show and post-show marketing plan. Most exhibitors fail to have a plan that encompasses all three areas. Your budget is naturally going to play a major role in deciding what and how much promotional activity is possible. Super successful exhibition managers know the importance of developing a meaningful theme or message that ties into their strategic marketing plan and that will guide their promotional decisions. They know and understand their target audience and plan different promotional programmes aimed at the different groups they are interested in attracting.
4. Being a team player
Super successful exhibition managers know exactly how to work together as a team, helping each other out whenever and wherever necessary. They help everyone get acquainted, develop a level of trust, and familiarise and understand each other’s strengths. They know what it takes to create an environment of camaraderie where the staff, as a whole, pulls out all the stops to succeed and set themselves apart from the competition.
5. Knowing how to manage time
Super successful exhibition managers have mastered the art of managing their time. They are well organised and have essential information at their fingertips, which means that their work environment is orderly and efficient. They know their priorities, don’t over commit themselves, and can differentiate between important and urgent tasks. They are superb delegators and are not afraid to ask for help whenever they need it. Finally, they don’t procrastinate; on the contrary, they practice the “do it now” habit.
6. Negotiating skillfully
Skillful and savvy negotiators know exactly what they want. They spend time doing their research so that they know as much as possible about their opponent. They are prepared with strategies and tactics, questions and possible concessions. They are masters at finding alternative ways of talking about, reacting to and solving problems. They use their talents of intuition, flexibility and concern for others to reach an agreement where both sides win. They look to create a feeling of co-operation to build a mutually beneficial working environment.
7. Applying a positive attitude
Research successful people and you’ll find that having a positive, “can do” attitude ranks high on their list of characteristics. Not only are they positive and upbeat, but they also surround themselves with naturally positive and successful people. Give it a try and see if their attitude rubs off on you. When you focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do, expect to find solutions to your various challenges. Try changing your vocabulary to reflect your optimistic thoughts and feelings, and see what happens. People find you more attractive and want to be around you, especially when you focus and direct your conversation to the outcomes they want.
8. Evaluating results
Any master continuously looks to improve on his/her performance, and a super successful exhibition manager is no different. Create a system to evaluate your results. Ask exhibition stand visitors and your exhibition stand staff for their feedback. Find out what they liked about your display stand and general show participation, and what would they like to see improved. In addition, ask yourself what you thought went well and what you would do differently if you had to organise this show again. Chronicle all your data and keep accurate records so that you can refer to them the next time around.
9. Being a perpetual learner
We live in an information age and are inundated by more stuff than we can possibly cope with. However, successful people love it, since they are perpetual learners. They know the pitfalls of relying on what worked in the past as a guide to what will work in the future. That’s why they constantly look for new and improved ways of doing things, learning from the masters and staying open and willing to try different approaches.
10. Keeping a sense of humour
If you don’t laugh, you might cry. In the exhibition and event industry there’s no lack of situations where it’s easy to shed a tear. Keep your sense of humour. It will definitely help keep you from getting mad, annoyed and frustrated with incompetent and disorganised suppliers. Learn to laugh at their mistakes, as well as your own, to maintain a saner perspective on life. If nothing else, remember that laughing is good for your health. It helps reduce both your stress and blood pressure levels.
People always dream of starting their own business and being their own boss, but striking it out with your own venture isn’t easy. To guide you through the labyrinthine steps, here are our top 10 tips to starting your own business.
Tip #1: Do what you love
Running a business takes a lot of time, energy and effort. Building it into a successful enterprise would require even more. Since you need to put a lot into your business, you better make sure that you love what you to make it easier and more fulfilling. Besides, doing something you love means you already know your product or service in and out, eliminating the steep learning curve that first-time entrepreneurs normally encounter.
Tip #2: Start your biz while employed
It’s not easy to find financing for a budding enterprise, let alone an unproven business idea. You can look for angel investors and venture capitalists or file for a loan, but the best way to start a business is to stay in your job and do your business in your spare time. It may take a while before your business actually starts making money, so you should remain employed to keep money in your wallet while going through a start-up’s lean early stages.
Tip #3: Research, research, research
Despite doing something that you love, which should make you an expert on your product or service, you still need research about your competitors, find out if your business idea is viable in your area, learn about your customers, and study the many details about running a business as opposed to merely enjoying a hobby.
Tip #4: Prepare a business plan
What you find out in your research is what you’ll be putting in your business plan. A business plan typically includes the following:
- Details about your business (i.e. corporate structure, number of employees if any).
- A marketing plan that specifies minutiae like pricing, product/service details and promotion strategy.
- An operational plan, which describes supply chain requirements and staffing needs.
- A financial plan that goes over current financing and cash flow projections.
- A risk analysis that analyses market operational, staffing and management risks.
Tip #5: Don’t forget the legal stuff
Don’t wait for the need to disentangle legal problems. Organise all the regulative requirements concerning your business, including the business name, structure, Australian business number, goods and services tax, insurance, permits, payroll taxes—everything that could cause a potential concern if not addressed early on.
Tip #6: Have an online presence
It has become necessary for a business to have an online presence. Here are a few reasons why:
- Going online gives you a fast and efficient medium for marketing.
- It’s a cheap way to reach and communicate with new markets.
- Lets you run your business anywhere.
- Gives your business a persistent global presence.
- Allows you to automate many of your business processes.
Tip #7: Hire professionals
See to it that you hire accountants, lawyers and any other necessary professional to handle any administrative detail that you’re not qualified to perform, so that you can concentrate on running your business. Anyway, you might end up spending more money than you have to if you do these functions yourself because it could get you in trouble since you’re not skilled in doing them.
Tip #8: Always be professional
Your start-up may be small, but this shouldn’t stop you from treating it seriously. This means you should always be polite, considerate and professional in all your dealings. To add further to your credibility, don’t forget the necessary paraphernalia such as professional-looking business cards, a dedicated phone and a business e-mail address that doesn’t use a free webmail domain.
Tip #9: Try guerrilla marketing
Sometimes, non-traditional approaches to marketing are better suited to small businesses. For instance, instead of paying for an expensive magazine ad, try viral marketing in social networking sites or introducing your product to people waiting in line for something, making them more receptive. Thinking out of the box would give you new ideas in promoting your business.
Tip #10: Start selling
Once you actually (or figuratively) show the Now Open sign, you should be ready in giving your sales pitch—just make sure you’re enthusiastic or at least look enthusiastic when delivering it. You also need to find out how to keep them coming back (tip: it starts with new products and promotions, and great service). Remember that you’ll face rejection too, so be ready to deal with it.
The Value of a Thought Do you have a desire to become wealthy? OK! Then let’s play a little ‘mental monopoly game’ to set an imaginary value on your mental process. Let’s suppose that for every thought you have, you either gain or lose a dollar. Assuming you have one thought a minute, every hour would then offer a potential $60 gain — or a $60 loss.
Each successful 16-hour day would then equal a potential ‘gain’ of $960. But on the other hand, a single negative thought like ‘Forget it, I’ll never make it anyway’ might trash four hours – creating a loss of $240 on your ‘mental balance sheet.’ So, can you see how important a single thought can be to one seeking prosperity? The Power of a
Thought Your life is not just the result of the thoughts streaming through your mind. In truth, your thoughts actually create your life. How can that be so? OK. Suppose you were laid off from your job. Now it’s obvious you did not create the weak economy leading to that event. BUT – you ARE in total control of how you respond. Here’s how that works: Suppose you get depressed and just give up.
Your response would obviously create a negative reality in your life. But what if you instead ‘take the tiger by the tail’ and start a new business on the web. You will have then created an entirely different reality in response to the exact same event. Life doesn’t just ‘happen’ to us. It’s our response to what occurs that creates our personal reality! Think about this for a moment. You really ARE in charge of creating your own life. The Thought Streaming Process Many people go through their lives paying little or no attention to their active thought process. They are largely unaware of how their mind works: What it tends to pay attention to, what it fears, what it says to itself, and even what it chooses to simply ignore.
For the most part we eat, sleep, work, play, laugh, worry, hope, plan, love, hate, cook, drive, work out – all with little thought as to how we think, or even what we are thinking. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If we gave conscious attention to virtually every one of our movements or actions, we would likely overload our brain with unimportant decisions. But there’s another level of thinking we should give intense, dedicated attention to – the thoughts that create our life reality! Thought Stream Focus Successful people have success-focused thought streams. Wealthy people have prosperity-focused thought streams.
Powerful leaders have leadership-focused thought streams. Do you want to create a lifestyle more prosperous than your current lifestyle? Then you’ll have to develop and refine a ‘prosperity-focused thought stream.’ ‘That’s easy to say,’ you may be thinking. ‘When you’re successful it’s easy to think success, and when you’re rich it’s easy to think prosperity. But I’m not close to wealthy or successful! The conditions of my life are keeping me down.’ Not so! There’s only one thing keeping any of us down — our thoughts. Your thoughts got you where you are today – and they will keep you there, unless replaced with something more positive and powerful! But, you CAN learn to direct your mind to create any lifestyle you desire.
The only true requirement is that you take action! Just wishing for something to change has no effect at all! You will always remain exactly as you are today, unless you take action, and change the focus and content of your thoughts. Creating a Reality Shift Assuming you DO want more prosperity, the place to start is by building a solid prosperity-focused thought stream. Start with a review of your current thoughts! If you want financial abundance, but constantly think about your lack of money – you’re focusing your thought stream on the wrong end of the ‘abundance stick.’ You need to take charge of the internal messages your subconscious mind is broadcasting. Failure to pay attention leaves your subconscious mind in control. Then your subconscious will simply continue to reinforce the same thoughts that created the reality you have today. Focus on feeling prosperous.
Do not give attention to mental thoughts of lack. Replace them immediately with thoughts of prosperity! Does this seem too simple? True, this takes no special abilities, intelligence or talent. It only requires a decision to take control of your thoughts. That’s it! No matter what your past or present situation, or how many times you might have failed to reach your goals, you CAN change your life condition by simply paying attention to the thoughts streaming through your mind. Give it a try, and watch your reality shift! Your lifestyle is a mirror reflection of exactly how you think. Prosperity consciousness doesn’t just ‘happen.’ You create it. Or you just continue to accept the crumbs that life happens to throw your way.
In the name of Allah, the Most- Merciful, the Very-Merciful
Islamic banking industry has grown rapidly during the past three decades spreading its
operations in many parts of the globe. Making its first debut in the small Savings Association
of Mitghamr (Egypt) in 1963, its strength has now reached over 250 financial institutions
operating in more than 40 countries with assets valuing USD 750 billions, and an annual
growth rate of 15 per cent. Almost all the giant conventional banks are in queue to establish
their Islamic units to capture the new emerging market. This rapid growth of Islamic
financial industry is, no doubt, encouraging for those who wished to relieve themselves from
the prohibition of interest on the one hand and to remain a part of the modern market
economy on the other. Now that a substantial period of more than three decades has passed
on the experience of Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions, it is imperative to review what
they have achieved so far and what they have missed.
It is, no doubt, a great achievement of these institutions that they relieved the Muslims
from clear prohibition of riba, and came up with some alternatives that might be adopted in
financial market without indulging in interest. In an atmosphere entirely dominated by
interest-based transactions, it was really a formidable task. I do not agree with those who
criticize them on the basis of utopian idealism, and claim that they should have brought an
immediate revolution in the entire pattern of the financial market and should, at the very
outset, have achieved the basic objectives of a true Islamic economy. This idealism that
accepts no breathing space between 0% and 100% always tends to support 0% and to
maintain status quo in practical terms. Looking from practical aspect, it is always a wise
policy to start something that can be done in a given situation, even though it is less
preferable from an idealistic approach. It was in this background that some instruments of
lesser risk like murabahah, ijarah and diminishing musharakah etc. were allowed by the
Shariah scholars. It is also wrong to say that these instruments have an element of
camouflaged interest. In fact, if implemented with all their necessary conditions that have
always been stressed upon by the Shariah scholars, they are substantially different from an
interest based financing. At the first place, all these instruments are based on real assets, and
do not amount to trading in money and financial papers, which is the case in an interestbased financing. Secondly, unlike an interest-based transaction, the financier, in each one of
these instruments, assumes the risk of real commodities, properties or equipments without
which the transactions cannot be valid in Shariah. Thirdly, these modes can be used only to
finance a commercial activity that is permissible according to Islamic rules and principles.
These basic distinguishing features are enough to draw a line of difference between the two
2 techniques of financing. Therefore, the notion that they are another form of interest is not
Having said this, one must not forget that these instruments are not modes of financing
in their origin. They are in fact some forms of trade that have been modified to serve the
purpose of financing at initial stage as secondary and transitory measures. Since they are
modified versions of certain forms of trade, they are subject to strict conditions and cannot
be used as alternatives for interest-based transactions in all respects. And since they are
secondary and transitory measures, they cannot be taken as final goal of Islamic Finance on
which Islamic Financial Institutions should sit content for all times to come. It is a matter of
concern for a student of Islamic finance, like me, that both these points are increasingly
neglected by the players in the field, and especially by the new-comers in the industry.
One should always differentiate between the transactions based on the original
philosophy of a particular system and the transactions resorted to in exceptional situations on
the basis of need. The former ones represent the real concept of the system, while the latter
ones do not. The original concept of Islamic financing is undoubtedly in favor of equity
participation rather than creation of debts, because it is only equity participation that brings
an equitable and balanced distribution of wealth in the society. Debt-ridden economy, on
the other hand, tends to concentrate wealth in the hands of the rich, and creates a bubble
economy which fuels inflation and brings many other social and economic evils.
That is why Islam has discouraged creation of debts, which should be resorted to in exceptional
situations only, and encouraged equity participation, which is the best way to a just and
balanced distribution of the benefits of commercial activities. Out of innumerable
instructions given by Islamic resources to that effect, I would like to quote only two
examples. It is reported by Sayyidah ‘Aisha , the blessed wife of the Holy Prophet ﷺ that,
during his prayer the Holy Prophet ﷺ used to seek refuge from indebtedness.
On the other
hand, the Holy Prophet has declared that ‘Allah Almighty remains with trade- partners (to
help and support them) unless one of them becomes dishonest to the other.’
comments made by the Holy Prophet ﷺ are more than sufficient to show Islamic attitude
towards debts as opposed to the equity participation.
In the light of the above, Islamic financial institutions have much to do before they
achieve the desired objectives of a true Islamic economy. Although the trade-related
instruments like murabahah, ijarah etc. used by them in their operations, are not loans in
strict terms, yet they create debts on the basis of deferred sales or renting. As explained above,
debt-based instruments are not preferred ones, but they were suggested to be used as modes
of financing to start the wheel of interest-free financing, and to bring an instant relief from
interest in an atmosphere that was not fully prepared for immediate switch over to an equitybased system. It was a sort of first aid provided to a patient before he may have access to full
medical treatment. No one can deny the importance of measures taken as first aid, but who
can claim that they are the final cure of the disease, or that no further treatment is needed
after them? Pain-killers are necessary to give immediate relief, but they are not enough to
cure the deep-rooted ailments. The idea was that after starting their operations on the basis
I have explained this aspect of debt-based economy in my book The Historical Judgment On Interest.
Sahih-ul-Bukhari, Chapter10:149, Hadith no.832
Abu Dawood, Chapter 22:26, Hadith no. 3383iççâáåÖ=Ñçê=kÉï=píÉéë=áå=fëä~ãáÅ=cáå~åÅÉ=
of these instruments, they should gradually proceed towards the ideal forms of Islamic
Failure to abide by this idea has caused many problems resulting in total neglect of
equity-based financing. Despite the differences we have explained above between interest and
these instruments, they have many similarities in the net result, especially because of the
benchmark used for their pricing. This has prompted Islamic Financial Institutions to
compete with their conventional counterparts in all respects, and restrict themselves to the
debt-based products. In their zeal to compete conventional banks, they are trying to invent
‘Shariah compliant’ counterparts for each and every financial product available in
conventional capitalist market, regardless of whether or not they are in consonance with the
ethos of Islamic economy. Instead of gradual progress towards equity, the tendency is to
make maximum compromises to accommodate debt- related products matching with
practices of the conventional market. Even derivatives are being designed on the basis of
‘Shariah compliant’ methods. If some products had to be equity based, they too were
equated in some way or the other with a fixed return debt. ‘Sukuk’ was the best way to
proceed towards equity, but in order to restrict the return of sukuk holders, a threshold based
on Libor is applied after which the whole profit is given to a particular party in the name of
incentive for good management. In many cases, it is not even mentioned that after the fixed
rate the rest is incentive.
This situation needs serious consideration of the players in the field and of the Shariah
scholars who oversee the new products for Islamic financial Institution. Many conferences
and seminars are being held frequently to consider various aspects of Islamic finance. I think
it is high time now to find out ways and means to make our products not only compliant
with, but also founded on Shariah. Our research should now focus on how we can move
from debt-based to equity-based instruments in their true spirit, so that they may
demonstrate the beauty of Islamic finance based on its economic ethos. No doubt, there are
still some hurdles in their implementation, but they are not insurmountable for an industry
that is growing so fast, if serious importance is attached to this vital issue, which must be the
next topic of our discussion in a workshop devoted for this purpose. May Allah guide us all.