Helping business flow, one coffee at a time


PHOTO CREDIT: 100CoffeeCups, by Yiying Lu

Here’s a hot tip for your next business trip. Find out if there are any high commissions, expat groups or trade organisations that you can contact before you depart, or connect with once you are on the ground.

One of their key objectives is to help people like you connect with the right people and do business, which will likely fast track whatever it is you are trying to do.

I first learnt the power of this back in 2002 when I became part of a then fledgling movement called KEA (Kiwi Expatriates Association) in London. Supported by Stephen Tindall, one of the most successful entrepreneurs NZ has ever turned out.

 

Interest grew quickly, to the point where we had to establish spin off groups in key interest areas. I took the lead in the music industry and when I departed the UK in 2004 handed over a contact book to NZ Trade & Enterprise that included MTV’s Head of Europe (a Kiwi) among other great connections for people with musical ambitions in the UK/Europe.

 

When I hit New York in 2008 for the International women in business awards, once again I turned to this kind of expat/trade community. Despite having just had a 17 hour journey, I took a taxi across town straight to a function, and made instant, and much valued business contacts that set me up for the rest of the trip (and whom I remain in contact with to this day).

 

Fast forward to Silicon Valley May 2013

Fortunately on a recent business trip to Silicon Valley, I didn’t even have to look who might be in the area I was visiting as it was all done for me, and 10 other Aussie female entrepreneurs, by Commonwealth Bank’s womeninfocus.com.au.

Day 2 of our 5 day Silicon Valley jaunt commenced with a breakfast put on by NSW Trade & Investment. Their key mandate is build local partnerships with government, business and industry associations to enhance awareness of NSW’s capabilities and the State’s attractiveness as a destination for business, education, and tourism.

Naturally I asked whether other state’s have a base in the US. Apparently Melbourne does, Queensland doesn’t (though it did when Peter Beattie was once stationed here).

100 cups of coffee on your way to being established

Jason Seed, Trade Commissioner, North America, NSW Department of Trade & Investment who has worked with international software solutions companies has a thorough understanding of Silicon Valley, the US technology sector, and the venture capital environment. For the breakfast, he set the scene by introducing his aptly named “100 cups of coffee” initiative (follow them on @100coffeecups on twitter) outlining that as an aspiring entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, you are likely to have 100 cups of coffee en route to success.

I loved this simple way of explaining that ‘connections and conversations’ are everything and just how much can be achieved over a cup of coffee (or 100).

When I first arrived to Australia without knowing a soul, I had a similar policy of having one coffee a week with someone I didn’t know to better understand how business worked in a country I was then unfamiliar with, and to build up my connections. I had some amazing coffees in those early days, just by being ballsy enough to ask. And I’m looking forward to a bunch more great coffees later this week in San Francisco with other amazing Aussie entrepreneurs. Stay tuned!

 

>> LEARNINGS FROM 100 Coffee Cups

  • Business travelling? Find out if there are any high commissions, expat groups or trade organisations that you can contact before you depart, or connect with once you are on the ground.
  • Follow https://twitter.com/100CoffeeCups and connect with them if you are heading to the Bay Area.
  • A lot can be achieved over a cup of coffee. Don’t be afraid to hit someone up for one.

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