This article is one in a series of interviews with expats in Stavanger. Its purpose is to share with everyone what your fellow expats are doing and also to help advertise the businesses/services/events that these expats are involved in. If you would like to or know of a business/enterprise to be interviewed, feel free to contact us!
Interview with Nils-Henrik Stokke, co-founder of Nettverk Stavanger.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I?m originally from Hof in Vestfold, but have lived in various places in Norway and now, over 7 years in Stavanger. I am 28 years old, engaged to be married and have a son who is almost two years old. We have two dogs and live in a pink brick house at Storhaug. I recently started as Country Manager at Fircroft, one of the world?s leading providers of technical recruitment services. Besides the job, I run among other things Nettverk Stavanger, Semaforum sales network, and I am a passionate home brewer.
What is Nettverk Stavanger and what does it do?
Nettverk Stavanger organizes events, meetings and activities that contribute to increased networking between young professionals in the Stavanger region. Everyone who contributes to the organization does this voluntarily. Nettverk Stavanger was founded in 2010 by myself and Jeffrey Bekkerin.
The largest event we have is called Mixer with hundreds of participants each time. Here we have short?talks?by inspiring and motivating people, good food and drinks, and of course a lot of networking among the participants!
We also have a leadership development programme called Mentor, which?starts twice a year with five new mentors, all top?management from the region with extensive experience in their fields. Members of Nettverk Stavanger can then apply for one of these as his or her personal mentor for one year. Along the way there are also seminars about leadership where both the mentors and the students meet.
Nettverk Stavanger has over 4100 members on LinkedIn, and has become a well-established project. In the future there are several new types of events planned, all with the same intention: to make Stavanger to a more attractive region to live and work in.
What made you set it up?
Before the establishment of Nettverk Stavanger there were?a number of small and complex networks, and no good meeting place that was free and open to everyone. Other?networks have either cost a lot of money, or have been limited to members only. The networks that existed were also often related to a particular industry or area.
Nettverk Stavanger is the arena for?young?professionals ? especially those who have moved to Stavanger. There were no events that had networking as the main focus, and that we wanted to change.
What do you hope to achieve from Nettverk Stavanger?
With?Network Stavanger I hope that we can make it more attractive to establish oneself here, both as an employee and as a business. With the Mixers I want people to be able to build networks in an easier way, which may lead to so many things. The Mentor programme allows future leaders in the region?to be?better prepared, have increased knowledge, a larger network, and that in the long term to maintain the competence of leadership in the region.
Tell us more about the upcoming mixer on the 2nd of November.
This Mixer has the CEO of Norsk Olje&Gass (former OLF) Gro Br?kken as the keynote speaker, and Jan Hauge, Technical Director at the Norwegian Opera & Ballet, will tell us about his experience as a Mentor the last year. Our new mentors will also be there and give a short presentation of themselves, but as always there will be less than an hour of talks and presentations, the rest of the evening is for networking, and here any language will do! We serve great food from Sabi Sushi (prepared at site!) and the bar is open all night.
It starts at 18:00, and finishes at 22:00. For those who want to, we have an after-party at Tango Cocktail Club. The CC is only 150,- and is paid when you sign up (includes a welcome drink and food), and to sign up you can go directly to deltager.no/mixer5 or see nettverkstavanger.no for more information (Norwegian mostly).
How has the feedback been from previous mixers?
We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from previous Mixers; people met open and network minded people, some got new jobs, signed new contracts, met companies that now work together on projects, and so on.
Any tips for successful networking, especially for foreigners new to the Norwegian culture?
I think foreigners are much more open to networking than Norwegians are, and the Mixer is actually not very ?Norwegian?.? So to be honest; I think local people could learn a lot from foreigners to be much more open-minded towards networking.
In general, here are some good tips on how to network on an event like Mixer:
o?? Don?t sell at networking meetings. Your goal is to meet people. You don?t have time to do a good sales presentation. Besides, there will be too many distractions.
o?? The best way to get something from networking is to give something. Don?t expect to get leads when you never give others leads. Networking is like marriage; you get out of it what you put into it.
o?? Remember me? When someone asks you what you do, say something memorable. This way it is easier for the other person to think of you when they meet someone who needs your product or service.
- Not everyone is a prospect
o?? Qualify the people you meet into three categories; potential clients, source of referrals, interesting-but-nothing-more. Realize that not everyone will be a prospect. Networking is more than prospecting. It is also finding people who could lead you to potential new customers.
o?? Networking is more like farming than hunting. It takes time to cultivate and harvest. But once the harvest season starts, you will be well compensated.
Thank you Nils-Henrik for your time and good luck with the Mixer on the 2nd of November! To sign up for the Mixer, you can go directly to deltager.no/mixer5 or see nettverkstavanger.no.