Business Speed-Dating

Yesterday, in Shanghai, I introduced China to a unique concept: “Business Speed-Dating”. They seemed to like it!

It was all as a result of the Victorian Trade Mission to China this week, at which I have played a small part in co-organising a Wealth Management Forum for the financial services group on the third day of their mission in Shanghai. Having organised, led and also participated as a delegate in numerous missions, delegation and study tours over the years, I am acutely aware of the problem of satisfying everyone’s individual objectives which are often diverse, complex and sometimes unpredictable. To overcome this, I put forward the idea of creating a business matching forum in which we would borrow the well known concept of “speed-dating” from the real world of lonely hearts, couples and match-making, and apply it to a business environment.

So, with help from my collaborator, Simon Stokes of China Acumen, we invited a group of around 40 financial services practitioners from the local Shanghai market and, after a short briefing in which we walked them through the profiles of each financial services delegate on the Victorian Trade Mission (whilst our delegates were being briefed in a separate room on the dynamics of the local financial services industry) they filled out a blue card in which they indicated the three delegates they would really like to meet.

What happened over the next couple of hours was quite unique and extraordinary. We brought the two groups together and literally read out two names, one from each group, and asked them to go away and talk for 15 minutes about their businesses and the opportunities to collaborate and/or learn from eachother. 15 minutes later they came back into the main room, and we did it all again. Two hours later, at which everyone met at least three useful contacts, and many other conversations took place around the room for those who were waiting to be “picked”, we all agreed it had been a worthwhile and beneficial exercise.

My special thanks to everyone who came yesterday for the excellent spirit in which they participated, for trusting me to subject them to this unfamiliar process, and for the nice comments received afterwards. Let’s do it again one day!