MORE than 1,000 visitors are expected at a free business show which aims to attract “the people who don’t normally go networking”.

A winner of The Apprentice and the man named the UK’s number one motivational speaker are among the attractions at the Hampshire Business Show.

The event, which takes place at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday, October 10, aims to attract many people from small to medium-sized businesses to meet decision-makers in other firms.

It has been launched by University of Winchester graduates Josh Mitchell, 24, and Chris Stones, who run the marketing business Mitchell & Stones.

Mr Mitchell said: “What we really want to do is to get businesses out of the office that don’t necessarily go networking.”

He said many SMEs struggled to justify attending business events.

“The managing directors haven’t got the time to get away from the office,” he said

“We’re encouraging as many directors and senior management to attend as possible. We want the experience to be full of decision-makers from companies which are based in Hampshire, from a range of industries.”

Among the innovations for the conference is the HBS App, which allows visitors to book useful appointments in advance, rather than turning up to mingle with strangers. Meetings will take place in a dedicated Meet Me zone.

“By the time you get to the show, everyone knows they’ve got 4-5 meetings booked,” he said. “I want people who don’t feel comfortable going to that sort of event to feel comfortable at this one.”

The venue will be divided into quarters, dedicated to innovation, business services, business support and digital. The idea is that visitors should find a range of businesses in each quarter which can help their enterprise grow.

There will be seminars as well as keynote speeches, while exhibitors will receive publicity and promotion – as well as the chance to showcase their businesses through Shell Scheme stands and follow-up support.

Among the exhibitors will be LOCALiQ, the digital marketing brand of the Daily Echo’s publisher Newsquest, which helps businesses grow through data-driven decisions.

Other speakers will include Annelies Jame-Ryan on The Power of Being Personal; Els Pontin on Define Success to Supercharge Your Life and business; Paul Bohill on Getting Invoices Paid; and Gareth Martin on Upgrade – The Three Key Principles of elite Performance Your Business Can Implement This Week.

Dave Dodge Photography will be offering professional LinkedIn headshots at a discounted rate, while Helen Richards of the Little Calm Company will be offering 10-minute seated massages.

The event falls on World Mental Health Day and its official charity partner will be Solent Mind.

The show will be opened by the mayor of Southampton, Cllr Peter Baillie.

Details are at