The Importance of Socializing
Charisma, you either have it or you don't.
It's a character trait that cannot be learned, but you know what can be learned, how to socialize ;)
Some people tell me I am charismatic and very sociable person.
However, what people don't know is that I wasn't always this way, it took years of practice, a lot of mistakes, and advice from friends how to network.
I'm about to write something really unpopular: from my experience people are more open to do business with you, mentor you, and help you (in the long-term) if they genuinely like you.
Now, this can be interpreted many different ways.
In short, because this is a whole different subject in itself, being liked, especially in Asia where business is all about relationships, being liked does open many doors and opportunities, especially if you're a foreigner and don't want to be take advantage of.
Being a Likable Entrepreneur
As for being sociable, becoming an entrepreneur, I didn't have much of a choice.
I am building a personal brand and selling cosmetics, which is very personal to people because looks are important (especially in Thailand), so when people buy my products, they are implicitly putting their trust in me to help them look beautiful.
When I first discovered the cosmetic packaging district in Bangkok, I went to many shops asking for a small supply of shampoo bottles and jars.
Here I was, an American girl with a big bun, so I stood out, starting my small cosmetic business. And most shops have factors, so they had a minimum order of packaging they would supply to buyers.
At that time I needed 12 units of packaging, and many didn't see it worth the effort so supply me this order.
Until I found this shop, and spoke to the owner and told him I was a teacher at Assumption Commercial College, and he automatically lightened up, because his son went to the Assumption elementary school (right next to my school at the time), and said he will make an exception for my small order.
And I'll never forget that day, as his son was at the shop and he got to practice his English with me by taking my order, writing a receipt, and thanking me for my business.
After attending so many events over the last 4 years, I gained a lot of practice networking and socializing with all types of people in different settings, like the startup community, NGO and non-profit community, political circles, fitness community, academic community, faith-based community, investment community, women empowerment circles, etc.
And you know what?
I discovered that I'm really good at a few things when it comes to networking:
1. Finding great events
2. Having a polite conversation with strangers
3. Connecting people in my network
And given that I thoroughly love to go to events, at some point I thought why not create my own events?
Small, professional, and purposeful events doing something that revolves around food (because Bangkok is such a foodie paradise, though I'm no food I do love sweets and tea).
So, connecting people, love for tea & sweets, and polite and purposeful conversation is how I came up with the idea of organizing high tea parties.
It Just Happened
Started last July over a lunch at the with friends who are all fabulous yet super busy, the venue was at the Park Hyatt, we were all impressed with the tea, location, and how nice it was for us to catch up.
We joked we should do this more often!
And that's when I thought? Why not, my co-organizer knew all the great places in Bangkok to have tea and a successful serial entrepreneur from Korea who knew a lot of other female entrepreneurs, and I was great with Facebook groups and attending many events (that we went together with), so we did it.
And as a team, our strengths complimented each other, but most importantly we were able to bring female entrepreneurs together .
The overall purpose of the tea party is to get female entrepreneurs together, catch up on life, business, and how we can help each other.
What's unique about Bangkok is that nearly everyone is an entrepreneur or had some kind of side hustle.
So people in our afternoon tea group had solid social and networking skills.
High Tea Party in the US?
Coming back to the US, I realized that many millennial, professional, and ambitious women in my network, don't exactly have the "entrepreneurial spirit" or networking skills or confidence to talk about their careers.
Maybe this is a difference in city life, culture, and type of industry, because in Bangkok, being an expat is hard enough so people do put more effort to connect with people and find opportunities.
In the states, people are more comfortable, stick to their circles, and don't mix so much....
I see this as a challenge and new meaning I could add with organizing tea parties at my home.
Because these days millennials have to be more creative, have several streams of income (hello student loans!), have some kind of personal brand (blog, YouTube channel, podcast) to have their resume stand out, and most importantly how to find opportunities by networking!
Since I don't live in the city any more (and it's too expensive to take the train to Boston), there are no tea houses in my small town (there is Starbucks and Panera Bread) I figure hosting high tea parties at my home to help people in my network is a great opportunity for me to continue doing what I love!
And my first tea party, after weeks of careful planning, re-connecting with people I haven't talked to in years, and having my mom cook vegan sweets for me, was a big success!
I look forward to organizing more tea parties and focus on educating my guess not only on networking, but financial planning, being an entrepreneur, and moving to Asia (because Asia is the future).
As always, thank you for reading!
And look forward to getting back to blogging every week!