Belfast Telegraph

First impressions vital to help ensure success

By David Elliott

As the final preparations for this week's global investment conference get under way, it's worth taking the time to have a look at the impression we're going to give these big hitting company executives, ones who'll hopefully be waving big fat cheque books.

With any luck we'll come across as the type of hi-tech society who will raise a quizzical eyebrow at such an old fashioned payment method and ask them if they could transfer their down-payment for a piece of the Northern Ireland economy via BACS.

Obviously we're jumping the gun a little, but when it comes to attracting the big IT and financial services companies we'll need to show we know our Java Scripts from our LAMPs, our C++ from our Linux.

That shouldn't be a problem, what with an array of companies such as NYSE Technologies, Allstate and Vello lining up to sing the praises of their experience setting up shop on these shores.

And lest we give the impression that we are a workforce which only understands what those techy acronyms mean, there will be inward investors from plenty of other sectors – engineering, manufacturing, business outsourcing, law, aerospace, creative industries – doing the "you know it makes sense" routine. That these old hands are willing to stand up and then give testimony to operating in Northern Ireland says an awful lot and it will go a very long way in persuading a wavering investor that we could be a positive addition to their company.

As any sales person knows, a third party, unsolicited recommendation is the holy grail of the sales process.

And while the bulk of the delegates' impression of Northern Ireland will come from the official part of the visit, they'll also be picking up on everything from their airport experiences, their taxi trips, their hotels to every other part of their trip to these shores.

We may have only one chance to impress some of these visitors and that will mean spending a pound or two.

The payback for that, and for laying on the conference, will be well worth it if we impress enough.

Belfast Telegraph