If you've established that your company needs some training or wishes to consult the services of a training provider, then the next step is the trickiest. How do you find the right company for you, and how do you go about booking them? Here are some tips on how to book training companies, and where to find them.

1. In The Trade

Training companies can be very specialist, for example, one that only trains in software, or one on time management and organisational skills, and so on. There are also different skill levels within the choice of training, whether it's aimed at managers or the intern who just started a job.

If, for example, you wanted training on the new Microsoft Office suite for your team, then you'd probably want to approach someone who either specialises in Microsoft, or even just in Office. This means that their focus is on exactly what you want, and there's no dilution when learning about unnecessary asides.

Take a look at trade magazines or websites related to the subject you want to be trained in. For example, computer magazines are likely to have software trainers in their classifieds at the back. Within some trades, you may even get a recommendation from the manufacturer themselves, so it's also worth asking them who they trust to train people on their own products.

2. Word of Mouth

Often said to be the most powerful form of marketing, word of mouth is usually a good indicator of whether a training company is both good, and what you're looking for. Make sure that the person making the recommendation isn't biased - there are an awful lot of affiliate schemes, especially online, where people are paid to recommend rather than doing it objectively. Also, if someone is singing the praises of a company, check that their experience matches what you want in terms of training subject matter - one firm may be very good at training people to be assertive, but terrible at showing them how to manage their time.

3. Doing Your Own Research Online

This is probably the most likely scenario you'll go down, even if you have the name of a company from the trade or from word of mouth - "Googling them" is always a good idea. Look for professionally presented sites with clear pricing (no hidden costs), and an easy way to book - if they're hard to get hold of for a booking, think how hard it will be to solve problems if they arise! Remember, almost anyone can build a website and take payment, so normal caution that you exercise for e-commerce still stands when buying or booking on behalf of a company. Look for a telephone number or other mode of contact so you can see they are open and available to customers. See how much information they provide online - the more detailed, the better.

These are the three main ways you'll find and eventually book that training company, and if they're good, of course it helps if you recommend them to someone else!