Back in the Victorian era Birmingham was known as “the city of one thousand trades”, a legacy the city takes seriously to this day. Birmingham is a great place to do business in, and more companies are realising that.

If it’s your first time visiting Birmingham it’s easy to become a bit stressed out: especially if you’re meeting an important client. This guide aims to alleviate a little bit of that stress, and make sure you really get the most out of your trip to the capital of the Midlands.

Birmingham-Canal

Essential apps

You have a computer in your pocket, make the most of it. Google Maps is important in this situation, as you can plug in your clients address and avoid the embarrassing situation of getting lost and turning up late.

Another good app to have on hand is LinkedIn. Over 238 million business people worldwide use the networking app, and having it readily available on your phone means that you can connect instantly with new contacts.

It’s also good to have a QR code reader on your phone. Although many marketing companies have abandoned QR codes, some business people have started putting them on their cards. Also, the Birmingham public transport system uses QR codes to let you track when the next bus is due: perfect if you’re trying to keep your expenses tab down.

Where to eat

For good pub grub try the Lord Clifden, a local favourite famous for its beer garden and generous Sunday roasts. The weekday menu is sure to impress, too: the boozer was voted runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards in 2012.

For something a little different, Latin American restaurant Bodega is sure to tickle your tastebuds. It has a good atmosphere, and the food is fresh and varied: try the sweet potato fries.

If you’re after something a little lighter, Boston Tea Party does a good line in all day breakfasts, teas, and coffees.  It also has a good lunch menu, featuring the usual staples like gourmet burgers and fresh salads.

Where to stay

If you’re staying overnight, you’ll need a centrally located hotel in Birmingham. Avoid the budget chains and go for a classy establishment like the Thistle Birmingham City Centre. It’s within walking distance of the Bullring, it has top meeting and events facilities, and the restaurant is a nice central place to treat clients to a business lunch.

Where to meet

Aside from the Thistle Hotel, there are a few nice places in Birmingham City Centre to hold your meeting if your client wants to get out of the office.

The Priory Rooms is a custom built meeting and conference space, with nine rooms available. It’s handy for public transport links, but there is very limited parking on site: reserved for organisers and disabled delegates.

Another option is The Studio, a hyper modern meeting facility in the town centre which also boasts a roof garden, perfect for adding that “wow” factor to your Birmingham based networking event.

Finally, London based events brand ‘etc.’ have opened up a meeting space in Maple House. The venue has large rooms with smaller ones just off them, perfect for breakout spots during networking events.

Where to check your emails

If you don’t have a Birmingham office but are desperate to get some work done, never fear. Birmingham City Centre has just launched its free public wi-fi network, meaning you can plonk yourself down on a bench with your laptop and get down to business.

If you prefer to work inside, the majority of coffee shops also offer free Wi-Fi. Café Blend, Bebo, the Urban Coffee Company, Saints Café and the Centenary Lounge are a few examples.

Where are your top business spots in Birmingham?

Dorothy McDonals is a freelance writer and blogger living in London.