For anyone who’s ever been speed-dating, the concept of delivering an elevator speech repeatedly until someone looks vaguely interested is a well-worn practice, and, as the statistics prove, a successful one. Dating is, after all, a game of numbers. And so is business development as today’s FM Inspired conference, which combines a corporate speed-dating element with educational and inspirational sessions, proved.
The event, which in the spring was called FM Innovate, is organised by the team behind the Celtic Manor networking events. Today’s conference, held at the prestigious Jumeirah Carlton hotel just off Sloane Square, heard from more than 10 expert speakers including well-known people development specialist Liz Kentish, who chaired the event. The seminars were interspersed with supplier/ buyer one-to-ones.
The format works, or else the 20-or-so sellers from M&E firm Integral to recruiters Hexagon FM, some of whom also had exhibition stands in the refreshment area, wouldn’t come back. The educational sessions – a mix of motivational sessions, industry specialists, panel debates and the odd thinly-disguised sales pitch – break up the selling and create a well-rounded event. The addition of a fundraising dinner for Help for Heroes, which heard from Sgt Simon Harmer who lost both his legs during an IED blast in Afghanistan, not only finishes off the event in style, but adds to the networking opportunities.
There were some good presentations – Julie Kortens, BIFM chairman and head of corporate services at Channel 4, taking to the stage in a soon to be independent role, to talk about why ditching the contract (or at least putting it in the filing cabinet) is the best way to get the best relationship with your client/ supplier. Jas Hawker, former Red Arrows leader, gave some brilliant examples of the ultimate in teamwork and talked about the need to debrief properly. “Building a culture of admitting your mistakes starts from the top,” he said. “If the leader can talk about where he went wrong at a debrief, then others will open up.” Johnny Dunford, director of corporate real estate at BNP Paribas talked eloquently about how and why occupiers are getting more sophisticated, flexible and demanding – and what landlords and FMs can do about it.
But in the nature of all good conferences, there was the occasional presentation which had potential but failed to deliver. Paul Worland, director of business development at Emcor Group, was not a wise post-lunch choice. While Emcor’s use of BS11000 is leading-edge and more FM service providers should be going down this route, the presentation itself needed more energy to excite the audience recovering from an excellent lunch. Why do presenters put up slides and then say ‘I don’t expect you to read this?’ One of the break-outs heard from Andrew Zaprzala, senior account manager at e-on, who promised to deliver solutions to the energy crisis, but instead presented a sales pitch for e-on.
Overall, this is a good event, which, when it roots out the sales pitches and improves the quality of some of the speakers, has the potential to become one of the leading events in the FM calendar.
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