Working in the energy industry?

Talk to NOF Energy

Joanne Leng MBE, Director Business Development. NOF Energy

Last year BVAA formed a Business Development Partnership with NOF Energy. Joanne Leng MBE gives an overview of the organisation’s services and how to make best use of them…

NOF Energy, the business development organisation for oil, gas, nuclear and offshore renewables sectors has been working closely with its 400 plus strong membership base to support their growth and diversification across the energy sector. Not only do they provide access to networking opportunities through an astonishing number of industry specific events, provide useful industry intelligence, make introductions to new contacts and offer marketing and media support they also support their members with their international business development activities through overseas market visits.

The NOF Energy contacts network spans the energy sectors, for us that is primarily oil and gas but also incorporating some nuclear and offshore renewables and since 2011 incorporates a new category of membership called Strategic Partners. They are the major clients across the three energy sectors NOF Energy is involved in and each has a tailored supply chain engagement programme. This means NOF Energy has a “Supply Chain Champion” within each who will actively engage with members, take calls and use the network to source products and services. Some of the Strategic Partners include Taqa, Aker Solutions, Petrobras, Worley Parsons, Technip and Wood Group PSN.

Networking – just how easy is it really?
Networking and building relationships is key to business success, people buy from people and the type of rapport you develop with others is critical for your business growth. How exactly do you make that first vital good impression, when do you move from small talk to business talk and how do you secure a meeting from an initial discussion at a busy event? How many times have you tried to reach that all important person at an event but could never find the right moment to interrupt, and we have all been stuck with someone and found it difficult to break away to go meet others. NOF Energy leads in its field when it comes to the art of networking, through a comprehensive events programme with some unique networking tools to make those all-important industry connections so much easier. It’s never an easy task to enter a room and start to “network”, it takes practice and technique and usually a helping hand which is where we come in, our introduction service sees the NOF Energy team facilitating the exact introductions you came along for; but you will have to come along to one of our events to see just how well it works!

Events – not just good for a bite to eat and general chit chat.

NOF Energy organise a multitude of events each year. From small focussed one to one meetings with UKTI representatives and specialist consultants to the large conferences and networking dinners.

Networking lunches with clients are certainly one of the most popular. One client presents on projects and procurement requirements, companies come along not only to hear the presentation but also to network. Exhibition stands circle the room so those who really want to showcase their wares can do so but our allimportant introduction service is also available on the day. So when you receive your final delegate list two days prior you can start to plot your target contacts and come armed with requests for introductions. BVAA, as part of the new service, has a stand to promote their membership base and they are on hand to make sure their members present get maximum benefit from attendance. A dedicated BVAA literature point is also available so members can display brochures, business cards and newsletters.

The annual NOF Energy Flagship event is the National Conference and Exhibition. Energy: A Balanced Future, Decades of Opportunities. This takes place on 14th March 2013 at the Hilton, Gateshead with a pre-conference reception on 13th March. Lots of networking goes on, an exhibition area is there to browse and great for finding out what’s happening across oil and gas, nuclear and offshore renewables.

Business outside of the UK – It’s not as scary as you think
Exporting isn’t just for the brave, it’s also for those with vision and foresight to grow their business even further. We all see organised visits to Nigeria, Libya and Kazakhstan taking place and maybe this isn’t for you but how about Norway, France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. NOF Energy has led visits to these markets and found members win business relatively easily once relationships have been formed. Don’t worry about the functional side of how do we export, freight, taxation, export finance etc, practical help is on hand from UKTI, Chamber of Commerce, banks and lawyers who are all members of NOF Energy, it just takes a call to put you in touch with them.

Exhibitions – costly, hard to justify the impact but sublimely effective at marketing your company
Emails hit our desktops every day from organisations selling exhibition space. It’s hard to decide which ones to do, justifying the cost and then allocating resource to organise them and man the stand.

NOF Energy has been involved in key exhibitions for many years so we know which ones are worthwhile (in our opinion of course). A stand share is offered whereby we take a large area, divide it into individual areas, have a central registration desk and meeting room all sharers can use, plus, and this is a big plus, our team can man your area if you want to go off and work the exhibition. All this makes for a cost effective option to have a presence at a show.

Industry intelligence – knowledge is power
NOF Energy circulate to members each week a summary of what’s happening in the industry, from new projects, contract awards, specific sales leads and industry initiatives. We make it short and snappy so you don’t need to plough through loads of emails of information providers and search the web for what’s going on. The best bit being, when you find a project you think may be of interest then you call us and we give you a contact to then go pursue the business.

Marketing support – it’s about making the market aware you exist not just giving out pens
Most companies are technically fabulous at what they do, but are they as capable when it comes to telling the world about this great product or service. NOF Energy can advise on your website, brochures, offer advertising at reduced rates with some of the key industry publications. We can usually pick members up some free editorial and we offer a free press release service, using the time we buy in from a professional (and extremely knowledgeable of the energy industry) PR agency. Go on, shout about what you do, your audience will remain limited if you don’t.

Results – that’s what we are all looking for
But what about generating actual business for members, does NOF Energy really make a difference and what sets them aside from other, let’s say trade associations?

Joanne Leng MBE, Director Business Development for NOF Energy says “Through making sure we regularly connect members to each other, not just through the traditional means of events but through day to day proactive hands on approach of picking up the phone and encouraging members to engage with each other, then we can say we make a real difference. We are out every day building relationships and seeing first-hand what they do and what type of support they specifically need from us at any point in time”

“… a recent member introduction resulted in £600k worth of business”

“A couple of examples of recent support; a member introduction resulted in £600k worth of business, a company who attended our supplier day this year advised that at last year’s event they picked up over £150k worth of new business, Not forgetting our international visits which tend to generate a lot of good business, an offshore renewables visit to Germany recently saw immediate enquiries coming through, a member who travelled to Brazil with us picked up a contract worth £250k one week after returning and a member who has been on various visits to Spain with us is picking up contracts worth over £2million. As long as we are introducing our members to the right people with the right opportunities then we are doing something right as these examples show.”

The future is bright
NOF Energy is keen to highlight that it plans never to stand still; they have taken on new staff members recently to cope with demand from industry seeking effective yet unique business development support. New initiatives are coming out thick and fast. Their Military Recruitment Fair enabled members to find much needed skilled engineers and technicians, this has resulted in the launch of Miliary2Energy, a new service offering members 12 months’ worth of recruitment support to pick up armed forces folk leaving the services.

So what’s the challenge for NOF Energy? Joanne says “Keeping one step ahead of the game, making sure we offer a service which is high quality, useful to companies and at the end of the day goes some way to facilitating new business for them.”

The link up with British Valve and Actuator Association (BVAA) sees a new business development partnership beginning to show results. BVAA members have been accessing the NOF Energy events and are now being seen as key networkers. In addition the BVAA name is out there in the client community NOF Energy works with and we envisage lot more activity going forward where BVAA members will reap rewards from the business development and networking support from NOF Energy.

As a not for profit organisation with 24 years’ experience behind it, NOF Energy is certainly now in a privileged position. A stand-alone organisation not reliant on public sector funding, it generates its own income from membership and commercial services but as with any not for profit organisation it plans to re-invest its modest surpluses into new value added services for members. So watch this space.

NOF Energy
Tel: +44(0)191 384 6464

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 24

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