The one thing you can definitely be sure of at a conference like this is that no two days will ever be the same. Today’s “menu” included staff induction, disappearing donations, brainstorming new ideas, and of course lots more lovely visitors to our stand!
Today, we had a new member of the team on our stand – Nick Virr, our new “man in Asia” who deploys to Nepal this month came along to get an induction into the industry. A real live-wire, Nick injected some humour and energy into our team (you can get quite jaded after 3 days in an exhibition hall) and was soon off canvassing companies for their support. Seems like he is going to be a great addition to the team!
One of the great things about this event is the chance to meet face to face with people I usually only speak to on the phone or at best, on skype. Today I met with Wim Keen from Antal – a global recruitment agency, who is just one of these people. Wim runs Antal’s Cuxhaven office and last year when he read about our running events in the UK decided he wanted to do something similar in Germany to raise awareness of our organisation and also to raise some money.
Its been a real learning curve for both of us over the past months – me learning about setting up fundraising pages in multiple languages that can accept Euros, and Wim learning that fundraisers have to learn to be quite thick skinned (we hear the word “no” a lot more than “yes”!). But Wim has really pulled out all the stops, found a suitable run, got €2,000 sponsorship from his company to pay for the event so that all the fundraising can benefit our work, and started fundraising – as well as of course looking for other runners to join him on the run on 16th June. Today we were meeting to discuss our strategy for seeking out German companies at the conference and publicising the running event to their staff. But between one meeting and a quick catch-up later we found that a technical hitch had wiped Wim’s fundraising page of his first €325 donations! Several frantic phone calls to an IT support in Germany and we were fixed. Panic over, Wim went off for more meetings, and later came back with the fantastic news that he had found a company who wanted to sponsor the t-shirts and another which wanted significant involvement in the event.
Mulling over the subject of running events and the business run which was so successful yesterday, Neil (our CEO) and I noted that its success lie in the fact that it worked on two levels – networking met the business need and running met the personal need for some fresh air and exercise during a stuffy conference. And with an entrance fee rather than fundraising, busy business people who wouldn’t have time to raise sponsorship could still run for a good cause. Well that sparked off a number ideas of how networking could be combined with fun or exercise, so watch this space for them to become reality!
Most common question of the day was “Can I come and volunteer with you?”. Students from a local technical university were at the exhibition in force. They were a pleasure to talk to – just starting out on their ventures into the world of work, with so much passion ambition, and ideals. I felt sad that as such a small organisation we simply have nothing to offer them at the moment, but I recommended some excellent organisations who do take volunteers – including Engineers Without Borders and a couple of our partner organisations. Hopefully one day when they have more experience we will meet them again at one of our corporate partners, or perhaps even when a job arises at Renewable World (we are growing fast!)
Last day tomorrow – some rest for the feet and then the mammoth follow-up task begins!