三百杯咖啡 | 300 cups of coffee

3coffees

有很多人與我討論如何加入社創及創投這個界別。除了看互聯網上的國際及本地資料,最快的方法是多些參加活動,認識業內人士。如我上篇blog所言,聯誼是尋機會的最好途徑。

我認為聯誼的最基本作用如下:

1)建關係:大家都知道關係可帶來方便及機遇,不用多說。部份人只是儲名片。有幾多人花心思了解人物,機構之間的關係,互動及文化;再而洞悉別人及自己的定位,意識機會所在。

2)吸收新知識:出席小組討論會或專題演講,可加速了解某些人或群組對某些議題的認識程度,以至獨特的見解。遇到有見解的講者,不妨於演講之後,上前分享你的感想或作更深入的題問。參與討論和看文章,你慢慢便對自己關切的問題建立看法。當有面試或合作的機會來臨時,這些日久建立的意見便非常合用。

3)反思:活動的參加者來自五湖四海,和不同人交談可收集到不同的資訊,學到平常接觸不到的事物,提醒自己知與不知的有幾多。面對陌生人,我也會把握機會分享我現在的工作範疇或創業計劃,聽聽不同人的意見。這些意見都間接及直接有助我重思我的點子和計劃。閉門做車一向都不是我的態度。我相信別人是不可以我輕便的複製我的點子。即使可以,就只怪自己沒有別人的執行能力,並慶祝別人把點子發揚光大。

聯誼的重要性大概不需爭論,但是如何有效地聯誼呢?

1)主動:出席活動時要適當地主動向陌生人介紹自己,讓別人知道你對什麼有興趣,在那方面想發展。何謂適當?放鬆。只要你不是那些說話不到十句,只派發名片,收集名片,對話時仍眼望對方身後群眾的人,那就行了。

2)故事:對話五分鐘,你大概都知道和『對手』有沒有『輕微觸電』。有的話,便說說你的故事 - 你的創業故事或『打工』故事,甚至分享怎樣走到此人生階段。不需盡訴心中情,但說出某程度的感想,可令對方更加記得你,甚至更快和你分享他的所知所聞。市儈角度是拋磚引玉,實際角度是不浪費時間,加快認識。

3)48小時:電郵問好或用linked-in聯繫上。兩天內跟進是表現你的誠意。如果談話時,提到任何其他有關的人物,懇請對方作個介紹。不要依賴對方記得你的所需,自動跟進。不是對方無心,是城市人營營役役,太善忘。如果提了兩次,對方都無消息,那就罷了。

4) 約見:這是三百杯咖啡的由來。每年三百。遇上那些輕度至中度觸電的人,主動約見,喝杯咖啡,談談共同關注的題目。《那些『一見鍾情』的人,已於當刻一同離開會場,一邊摸著酒杯底再風花雪月。》一對一的傾談是建立關係的基礎。從我的經驗,六成或以上的咖啡會面都有後著。

5) 自告奮勇:如遇上心儀的機構或領導者,不妨自薦義務為他辦點事。這些自製機會可令你更了解有興趣的範疇是怎樣,亦可讓別人認識你的能力,為未來鋪路。

6) 不知道該怎麼辦? 談過各自『身世』及對活動的意見後,仍找不到共同話題,便輕輕鬆鬆的談假期或週末去那兒。說多兩句,便禮貌地說要和其他人打招呼。如果你覺得沒趣,九成機會對方也有相同感受。不要太著緊內容,誠懇及謙虛才重要。如果真誠,那怕你學識廣博,人脈豐盛,別人可能想和你打交道,但關係亦難變深厚。

你有沒有聯誼技巧可以分享呢?以上種種都不是什麼特別招數,只可以說是講易難行。

我正密切期待2016年的三百杯咖啡。期待認識更多高人。

我們一起把眼光放遠一點。每個人物在我們的人生,在不同時段帶來不同的東西。再者,好的機會總不會隨時出現,出現時亦不一定那麼明顯。當你的腦和心準備好的時候,它就會慢慢浮現。

機會留給有準備的人。

2014-04-14 08.35.56
People reached out to me about opportunities in social enterprises and impact investing from time to time, whether through common friends or Linked-in. I do not have anything intelligent to say. My usual suggestion is to attend related events and network. A good percentage of these events are free so the only investment is time. Most people in this field are very welcoming so it is not hard to reach out to strangers at events and have a useful conversation.

Most of us know networking is important but what is the essence of it? Here are three things that I take away from my investment in networking:

1. Building relationships: It is not about collecting name cards and distributing name cards. The number of connections will not enable one to pursue a project or a job. The nature and depth of a relationship counts. By going to events and panel discussions, I learn more about who is who and who does what, i.e. who has a view and who is the thought leader in my area of interest. It helps me to identify the right parties to be involved.

2. Developing insights: I learn the latest trends and practices from panel discussions and workshops. I proactively talk to people at events, share my feedback, as well as ask for other people’s thoughts during breaks. Before one knows, views are developed. Being able to share my own observations and point of view during interviews or catch-ups with potential partners is important.

3. Reflecting: I am not shy about sharing my thoughts, startup ideas or business plans with people I meet for the first time. I actually think it is extremely useful to bounce ideas with a diverse group of people. Sometimes my friends are too gentle with me and would not say that my idea does not make sense. One’s idea will not grow or evolve unless it is tested, either by obtaining more information or thoughts through talking to potential customers or users (of course, it is even better if one gets the chance to test it in the real market).

How to conduct networking effectively?

1. Proactive. Depending on the day of the month, I am an introvert. I am not comfortable in a crowd. If I leave it to my usual self, I may not end up talking to anyone. I commit to make two new acquaintances at any networking event.

2. Story Telling. People love stories. I share my personal career journey. Most people find it quite interesting. By sharing something personal, your new ”friend” may also open up a little and tell you more about themselves, i.e. what they do and what they are involved.

3. 48 hours. Most people score real bad in this. I email 85% of the people I have met. Say hello and thank them for their insight.  If a useful contact is mentioned, remind them and appreciate their effort to connect.

4. Coffee. Again, bad score for most people. 300 cups of coffee may not do good to my health but it certainly do good to my soul and rolodex of resource. For those people whom I identify as having potential collaboration opportunities and have expressed interest to meet up again, I follow up. I do not wait for them to reach out. We are all busy people who get distracted all the time. I make a difference by reaching out. I cannot remember anyone turn round to say ”No, thanks!”. Majority of these coffee catch-ups turned out to be constructive discussions and led to more coffee, sometimes lunch or dinner which meant that those relationships have developed to a different level. A good fraction of these contacts have become my trusted friends and partners.

5. Volunteer. If I get the chance to speak to a leader or a responsible person in an organization that I am interested to know more, I volunteer to do some work for them. It is an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the subject matter or the culture and operation involved. Once I get the exposure, I can judge whether it is something I want to get into. It also gives other people the chance to know me better and understand my capability.

6. Getting Stuck? Of course, there are moments of awkwardness. After several attempts to identify common interests, there may not be a slightest spark of chemistry. Relax. Switch to talk to something more general, like where they are going in the coming holidays or whether they have gone on a hike during this dry and cool season. It is always acceptable to say that you want to find a friend or say hello to someone you know at the other end of the room. If I don’t think the dialogue is getting anywhere, it is very likely the other person feels the same way too.

Life is full of surprises. There were many times that I dragged my feet to attend networking drinks. However I felt good after the fact. I thanked myself for making the effort and creating more opportunities for new ventures.

I am looking forward to my 300 coffees in 2016.  Hope you do too.

Happy Networking!

This blog post is inspired by the article – Networking Your Way into a Career in Social Enterprise

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s