Thursday, 5 December 2013

7 Keys of Networking Etiquette

 Tony Altham,is a leading expert on building business by referral. Here's his guide on how how companies can build better and more profitable relationships through networking etiquette:

1 Rapport
Building rapport quickly is essential in building great relationships. Your body language, smile, dress and even your handshake all have an impact. First impressions count so make a great first impression.
Stand ‘tall’ and hold your head up with your chin level as this conveys your confidence.
Smile as you greet people as this confirms that you are warm and friendly and approachable.
Look them in the eyes when you meet and when you are talking to them as this affirms your interest in them and what they have to say. A sure fire way to lose rapport as well as to fail to achieve rapport is failing to this and looking over the other person’s shoulder and around the room to see who else is available for you to talk to.
Dress for the occasion and importantly dress for you. Wear clothes that reflect your style and your personality and dress in clothes that you look and feel good in.

Tony Altham

2 Your Handshake
In some cultures it is taboo to offer your hand as a greeting so learn about cultural differences if you are going to be networking internationally. For the purposes of these tips, the comments relate to networking in the UK and westernised business meetings and countries.
In this context, the simple rules are that your handshake needs to:
Match the pressure of the other person. A ‘bone crusher’ can cause pain to the other person, especially if they are wearing rings or other jewellery. Equally, a wet fish or limp handshake tends to convey insecurity and potential lack of confidence.
Avoid fingers only – a palm to palm handshake is important and it should be firm as this conveys confidence, strength and self belief. The opposites of this are a soft handshake that subconsciously communicates a lack of self confidence and weakness (even though this may not of course be the case) and a bone crushing very forceful handshake that can be seen as an attempt to be dominant and at the very least, it can be extremely painful for anyone wearing a ring or rings on their hands.
Notice how the other person approaches you and also how you approach for the handshake. If the hand is offered palm down this a more assertive and dominant characteristic, palm up is more submissive and potentially perceived as less confident and straight on is on the level and greeting as equals.
To build rapport you can choose to turn the other person’s hand slightly over your own as you shake hands, so their hand is marginally on top, as this helps to relax them and remove perceptions of potential threat. In the first seconds of meeting our sub-conscious mind processes our natural fight or flight self protection instincts so the quicker you establish your position the better.
Along with your firm handshake, always ensure you make eye contact by looking the other person in their eyes throughout the handshake as this communicates interest, courtesy and respect. Be mindful that your eyes are incredibly powerful in conveying a great deal of information about you. By looking into your eyes as you meet and speak, others will decide whether you are friendly, angry, warm, engaging, funny, interested, interesting or indifferent. They will likewise give a first impression about whether they trust you or not, so be genuine.

3 Respect and Courtesy
Respect the other person’s space and don’t get too close too soon. Give them your full attention and avoid looking around the room for who else you can talk to as this shows lack of interest. Be polite and courteous in your manner and conversation. You can lose someone’s interest in a second through disrespect and lack of courtesy.
If you really want to test this and ensure you either break rapport or fail to create it in the first place, during one or two of your future networking conversations spend your time looking around at who else you can talk to while in conversation with someone you meet. They will pick up on your eye movements and body language in seconds and the damage is done. Likewise become aware of how you feel when you experience the same in reverse.

4 Certainty and Conviction
Use strong and confident language and you will build confidence and certainty. The word ‘try’ subconsciously means you might try and you might fail. Instead, tell people what you do and how you do it and what this means for them as well as for your customers and clients. Using the word ‘do’ means you remove doubt and convey certainty. We all love certainty because it builds trust and confidence and enables us to relax and buy.

5 Etiquette
Await your turn to speak and avoid dominating a conversation. Instead, be the catalyst that draws other people into your group and into the conversation. Engage with and involve others in your conversation so they feel included and as you introduce them to other people mention something about them and where possible their business so you can so that the people you are introducing them to find it easy to ask a question or two and or make a comment that will enable them to continue the conversation.
Ideally in a conversation gently encourage and facilitate the other person speaking around twice as much as you do by asking them open questions as these will enable them to speak more openly and expansively about who they are and what they do.

6 Moving on
Often at networking meetings you want to meet a number of people and the people you meet feel the same way, so acknowledge this and respect their time and yours. Brief encounters can be massively powerful and memorable when done well.
Be prepared to move on to new conversations and always do so carefully and considerately. For instance, you can suggest going for refreshments and take the other person with you. You then increase your opportunity to meet other people, start new conversations and of course to introduce them.
You can thank them for their time and say you need a word with someone and have enjoyed meeting them and look forward to speaking again soon.
You can even introduce them to someone else and then make your excuse to leave the conversation, like ‘I’ll leave you to talk while I …’ and so on.
There are many ways to do this well and to leave the other person feeling great about meeting you.

7 The business card exchange
Exchanging business cards is a simple activity that can and frequently will have a very big impact on how you are perceived.

My personal RULE NUMBER 1 is ask for the other person’s card first - always. Keep it in your hand and study it – make a positive comment on the design and or information on it where good to do so and be slow to put it away as this conveys that it is important to you. Only after you have asked for their card do you ask if you can give them yours.
Always receive their business card as they pass it to you. If they pass it with 2 hands receive it with two hands. If they present it with one hand, receive it with one hand and ideally, always your right hand.

When it is your turn, do the same in reverse. If you received their card with two hands, present yours with 2 hands so the card is presented facing towards them. If you received their card with one hand present yours with your right hand, so the information is easily readable as they receive it.

Keep hold of their card while you are talking to them or if you are sitting at a desk or meeting table, place it on the table in front of you during the conversation.
This is respectful and conveys that the card and information on it is important and valuable to you. Keeping it in front of you also allows you to periodically glance at it so you increase your opportunities to remember their name.

When you do put it away, men in particular must avoid putting it into a rear trouser pocket as in some cultures this can be considered disrespectful. The reason for this is that the business card is often seen as an extension and representation of the person and the face of the card is considered as if being their face. Therefore, always avoid placing someone’s business card into a trouser pocket, especially a back pocket.

Carry your own business cards in a business card holder or case so they are kept in pristine condition and keep them easily accessible in a bag or a shirt or jacket pocket.
If you wish to make a note on the business card to remind you about the individual or something they have said during your conversation, always make it on the reverse of the card and ideally do so after you have moved away. If you need to make a note while they are with you, just ask, ‘do you mind if I make a note of …?’ before you actually do so.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Theme of Three Reoccurs Art Work made by 3D printing will be at TCT 25 and 26 September

Post by Interiors & Lifestyle Future member, Rob Cochrane, C21 Etruscan Ltd

"This remarkable design incorporates the latest developing 21 Century technology and shows that we have frontier imaginative thinking in Great Britain.

"The artwork, 'The Theme of Three Reoccurs' has been chosen by TCT Magazine to be exhibited at NEC because it shows yet more possibilities of 3D printing.

Robert Cochrane's 'Theme of Three Reoccurs' design

"Art deco objects are amongst the most elegant in the world and this can be seen in the Theme of Three Reoccurs Art Work. Because it is made by innovative processes in the Wet Midlands, it is therefore truly unique."

Expanded article here:

Details of TCT Show 25 and 26 September:

Follow adrianilfutures on Twitter

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Planning to set up a new West Midlands business?

We are delighted to announce that Interiors & Lifestyle Futures will be again running its highly successful ILF Venture programme from October 2013.

As well as six months of mentoring and development workshops, each newly created business will get a bursary of up to £1,000 on satisfactory completion of the programme.

“Following the success of our previous programme in 2011-12 where we helped 21 companies to set-up in the region, I am really pleased that we have been able to secure further funding to run ILF Venture again”, said Project Director Kathryn Burns.

Suberna Begum who took part in the original  ILF Venture programme

 “We learnt a lot from the last time about what new businesses really need. We will help participants to focus ideas, build business confidence and hone entrepreneurial skills.”

Will Cutler on an ILF Venture selling workshop

Typical areas for business support include: furniture, furnishings, textiles, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, ceramics, lighting, window products, interior architecture, jewellery and silverware, fashion, leather goods, glass, giftware and artworks.

For an application form, please email 

Completed applications must be returned by 20 September 2013. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Free training for Birmingham companies in establishing an online presence

Birmingham SMEs keen to make use of the Web and social media to boost their business may interested in a set of free workshops in June 2013. Deadline to apply 17 May.

Innovation Birmingham, working with Virgin Media and training provider Freeformers, will be running the three-day programme spread across three consecutive weeks at Birmingham Science Park, Aston.

 Companies will learn how to
  • build a live web page 
  • release a viral social video
  • develop a web app and
  • use new social online marketing techniques

You must
  • be a small or medium-sized business based in Birmingham
  • be able to commit to attending three sessions, either on the 12, 19 and 26 of June, or on the 13, 20 and 26 June 2013 at Birmingham Science Park, Aston. Dates TBC
  • agree to provide feedback on your experience that can be used in case study material for the benefit of other small businesses 
  • have an idea of how you will use digital training to improve your marketing or business model

Contact by 17 May :
Nicola Bryant, Business Development Manager
Digital Birmingham, Birmingham City Council
T: 0121 675 1169
Daniel Butler Virgin Media
Tel:  0207 909 3287

Follow adrianilfutures on Twitter

Friday, 8 March 2013

Meet the artists at Stourbridge Open Studios – 18 & 19 May

There's a not to be missed opportunity this May to view beautiful pieces of art and meet their creators at work in their studios.

 Artists and makers based at the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge will be opening their doors to the public on the 18th and 19th of May to coincide with the national Craft and Design month.

This will be the second time the Centre hosts an event of this kind but the first time artists have been invited from the wider area to take part.  The organisers say “there is so much talent in the Stourbridge area and it will be great to see the public getting involved and being able for the first time to meet and talk to individual artists in their own studios.”

Vic Bamforth at work, Ruskin Glass Centre
The idea of open-studios originated in the salons of 17th century Paris and has been carried through up to the present day. As an internationally recognised event, Open Studios are run in several countries, including  the UK, Holland, Germany and America.. An Open Studio is intended to foster creativity in an atmosphere of cultural exchange, conversation, encouragement and freedom of expression.

Craft and Design Month was first launched in 2011 by craft & design magazine. The project receives no funding or grant aid and is funded by the artists themselves.

'Land Lines' by glass artist Jo Newman ©Simon Bruntnell

Philip Potter,  Kairos Sculpture, said “combining an open studio event with Craft and design month is a great idea because it expands ‘open studios’ from just artists to include makers of all kinds, from textiles to glass crafts to jewellery”.

The core of this year’s event is based around the studios of the Ruskin Glass Centre at Amblecote in Stourbridge.  The event can also be followed on Facebook at Stourbridge Open Studios

You can also learn a lot more about the artists and makers of Stourbridge on their open studios blog.
''Transparent Glass Studio' by Paul Floyd & Monika Mihalyfi ©Simon Bruntnell

Thanks to Philip Potter  for his press release and to  Jo Newman for further help.

Follow adrianilfutures on Twitter

Friday, 15 February 2013

Back to the Future glass expo ends in triumph

Excellent sales and visitor footfall mark a triumphant celebration of the West Midlands glass industry. The cultural and commercial success of the Back to the Future exhibition, which has just ended, is wonderful news for the artists and the region. And, it goes without saying, we are delighted at the part Interiors & Lifestyle Futures played in this achievement!  

Launch night of  Back to the Future photo Wendy Jones

As reported in the blog before, Back to the Future at Broadfield House Glass Museum celebrated 400 years of glass making in the region with each new work taking inspiration from an older piece.

Exhibition statistics

  • 7104 visitors (5650 adults & 1454 children).
  • Sales of £3,560 - exhibits and related shop stock 
  • £2,470 directly to the artists
  • A further £1,340  shared between Georgia Redpath & Darren Weed. This was for the purchase of pieces for Broadfield House's own collection. Costs shared between the Museum and 'The Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum'
Darren Weed's glass peppers photo © Simon Bruntnell

Kari Moodie who oversaw the exhibition adds that several of the artists have acknowledged that Back to The Future has led them in new directions, "which is a very positive outcome." 

"Allister Malcolm has now sold many pieces in the ‘Through the Looking Glass’ range that he developed and some of the other artists have also made sales and contacts as a result of the exhibition.  At least two of the exhibits are off to a show in Shanghai and I have no doubt some of the other pieces will feature in future exhibitions."

Georgia Redpath's 'Deep Blue'  photo © Simon Bruntnell

Back to the Future was co-organised by Broadfield House’s Kari Moodie and glass artist Jaqueline Cooley Funders included Dudley Council, Friends of Broadfield House Glass Museum and Interiors & Lifestyle Futures.

Thanks to Kari for the exhibition feedback and congratulations on a brilliant exhibition.

Follow adrianilfutures on Twitter

Friday, 25 January 2013

Trend -setting collaboration between BCU students & West Midland companies

Third year textile students from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University, have once again impressed visitors to the Interiors UK show. Their work, an exploration of two trends, 'Clash' and 'Flint'  was a partnership with Interiors & Lifestyle Future companies: Brintons, Glassdomain, mrf design, Phoenix Tile Studio and Plant & Moss. The stand in the Design Village Hall 2 was also a collaboration with trends prediction company GlobalColor Research™ Mix Publications and Tektura Wall Coverings.

Charmaine Stint and Jo Birch from Birmingham City University's Research Innovation and Enterprise department spearheaded the project working with the companies, BIAD students and staff (Jean Ensell, John Hall and Marlene Little among others).

Showcasing the Flint trend on the BCU stand
Thanks to Jo and Charmaine and the BCU PR & Communications team for the following report and congratulations to award-winning students  Santa LiepinaZoe Watson and Faith Wray.  You can also check out Zoe's blog for her experience of the show.

Textile students design trends wow guests at national expo 
The work of three textile students from Birmingham City University has been praised at a national exhibition this week.The budding designers were amongst 60 BIAD students showcasing their own innovative design trends at the annual INTERIORS UK 2013 exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham.

The collections featured a range of concepts and included a sneak preview of how our homes may look next winter. The designs were based around inspiration for walls, floors and furniture and were created around two key trends – ‘flint’ and ‘clash’ identified by international trend experts Global Color Research™ Mix Publications.

Working in partnership with a number of key interiors manufacturers - including Tektura and Brintons Carpets – the stand highlighted 20 new designs. Joanna Birch, Head of External Development at Birmingham City University, said: “The industry collaborations highlight the practical applications of the student’s work, highlighting the benefits of student collaboration with industry partners interested in exploring innovative concepts.

“Integrating student design teams in the real world of business is an imbedded element of the way Birmingham City University works – Our Trends showcase often makes interior designers and manufacturers realise the power of students to stimulate their product innovation.”

Part of the Clash trend room set 
The annual showcase of new student talent has launched a number of award-winning designers in previous years and this year’s show didn’t disappoint.

Zoe Watson, BA Textile Print student, was awarded most innovative wall cover by Tektura – voted for by visitors to the exhibition. Zoe’s design was based on her personal prediction of the ‘clash’ trend, taking inspiration from encaustic tiles, mosaics and interior Victoriana elements.

Throughout her time at University, Zoe has worked closely alongside Global Color Research which has enabled her to experience the future trends for herself. Zoe was thrilled to receive the award and believes the project has been extremely beneficial for her future career plans. She said: “The interiors UK exhibition has helped me to thoroughly focus my aim for my future career into textiles for interiors, as well as help me gain experience and much needed exposure in my chosen field of interest.”

Wall-cover winner Zoe Watson (centre) & Tektura's Jo Cain (right) & Julie Mason 
“I aim to be a self-employed designer, specialising in textiles for interior products and spaces. I am hoping to finish my textile design degree with a strong focused portfolio which will help me to achieve this once I have graduated.”

Zoe’s winning wallpaper design will be showcased on Tektura’s website and will be available to purchase for interested clients.

Faith Wray, final year student on the BA Textile Embroidery course, was announced as the winner of the Flint trend category by Global Color for her ceramic bead and embroidery element. The inspiration for her design came from pre-cambrian rock and stone carvings found in her hometown in Malvern. Wanting to accurately capture the trend and create texture within her design, all elements were made entirely by hand.

She said: “I was over the moon to receive the award and feel extremely privileged to be recognised by Global Color. This Trends project has been my favourite of all of those I have worked on during my time at University - I feel like the project was made for me.”

Faith Wray (right) Flint category winner with Hannah Malein from GlobalColor Research™
Faith hopes to continue to develop her handcrafted techniques in ceramics and embroidery and hopes to work on more interiors projects in the future.

The final award of the event went to BA Textile Print student, Santa Liepina, who was awarded winner of the Clash trend category for her lampshade featuring a lively geometric design. Santa was inspired by the interaction between colour, shape and light, combining abstract and geometric with realistic motifs. 

Santa Liepina  & her award winning Clash trend lampshade  with Hannah Malein 
“‘Clash’ is one of my favourite projects so far because of its brilliant colour palette and the challenge to create the right mood for the design. I would like to say a big thank you to my tutor and professionals from Global Color who were able to see and appreciate my passion.”

Stand photos courtesy of Chris Webb Photography

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Thorneywork Studio to launch major new range at Spring Fair

Thorneywork Studio, a business started up through our ILF Venture programme, is launching an extensive new range of products at  Spring Fair (3- 7 February,NEC Birmingham).

The new work by designer and owner of Thorneywork Studio  Francesca Duffield, comprises: six satin cushions, (two designs of Shakespeare images - Ophelia and Juliet - with the relevant quote on the back), Birchply trays with the two Shakespeare designs, a metal tray in 'Forest' design, placemats in 'Dancers' design, and a range of coasters in six designs. There will also be two lampshade designs in 'Ophelia' and 'Forest', and a silk scarf in 'Ophelia'.

Juliet plate by Thorneywork Studio

This major new line augments Thorneywork Studio's existing range of 10 designs on china plates and will be available on Stand 6S06, Hall 6 as part of designGap. You'll also be able to find active ILFutures member Sara Page Design there too as previously reported here.

And, if you cannot visit Francesca at the Spring Fair, after the show you will be able to see and buy her work at the Birmingham Made Me
 Shop 2 in the Mailbox,  Wharfside St Level 3.

Cushion with 'Ophelia' design

Visit on line at:  Thorneywork Studio
Email: Thorneywork Studio


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Invitation: Student Industry Awards, Interiors UK January 2013

Birmingham City University invites members of Interiors & Lifestyle Futures to its Student Industry Awards at INTERIORS UK 2013 on Monday 21 January. The awards will be presented by Trends Project partners Mix Publications and Tektura Wallcovering.

The event at the NEC is always an excellent networking opportunity for companies, catching up with old friends and making new contacts. It will start at 3pm and there will also be welcome addresses from United Business Media (UBM) and Birmingham City University representatives.

Student awards at Interiors UK 2012

When: 3pm Monday 21 January

Where: Stand 2B50, Design Village, Hall 2, NEC Birmingham

To attend the Industry Awards please email Please note, Birmingham City University will be closed from 4pm 21 December and reopens on 2 January. 

And, don’t forget, if you are attending, register now for free entry to Interiors UK. Otherwise it will cost you £30. Please use the link here

Networking at Birmingham City University's Awards 2012