Networking is not just about showing up. It’s about opening yourself up to new information, new people and new opportunities. A serendipitous encounter at a networking event means that Ladies First is ready with an English track in their upcoming event Ladies:Meet – Behind the Storefront on June 15.
By Katja Meyer, Partner in Ladies First.
On Wednesday I met Tiny Maerschalk at a networking event for event organizers (yes meta, I know). Tiny is one of those women who has a contagious level of energy and positivity, and a great mission to go with it; she’s really passionate about making life in Aarhus for international professionals more enjoyable.
As Tiny talked, I remembered my own time as an exchange student in Finland. I had chosen a Nordic country because I liked that the culture wasn’t too different from the Danish, but pretty much failed to realise that the Finnish language is impossible to learn.
I learned useless words like ‘potato’ and ‘pear’ because someone told a story about how they sound similar, but other than that my vocabulary was restricted to pleasantries and ordering beer. Although that will get you really far in Finland, I definitely felt secluded.
– Can your event be enjoyed without speaking Danish? Can you convey that?, Tiny asked. I fondly remembered how on my first week there the retired founder of the company, Kari, came by and said hi. Well, actually moi, the Finnish word for hi, because unlike most Finns he speaks neither Swedish nor English. He spoke a bit of Japanese, but that didn’t do much to help our language barrier. He asked someone where I lived, drew me a map from my house to a place in the village, and wrote “17.00”. I got the gist, nodded and said ‘kiitos’ – thanks. I had no idea what I was venturing into when I left my house at 16.55 to be at the X marked on the map, but it was the start of a lot of experiences and network I would not have had if Kari hadn’t told me – or rather conveyed to me – that proficiency in the most insane language on earth was not required.
– Can your event be held in English to include non-danish speakers? Tiny asked next. Amongst the fond memories of my time in Finland I also remember how much I struggled to create a local network, and in the end I ended up doing what I suppose a lot of internationals do – I hung out with other internationals. I remember how when I returned to Denmark I was extremely persistent in making sure that everything would be in both Danish and English.
I even put a sign up in the elevator of my student housing that said “INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS WANTED” – full disclosure, I was tipsy and happy from a lovely sunny day. It’s the weird effect champagne and sunshine has on Danes I guess.
And then, at some point, I just – forgot. Until Tiny reminded me last Wednesday.
In Ladies First we use the Danish word “foretagsom” a lot. Like a lot lot! In English you would say ‘to be enterprising’. I usually say that we ride the same day we put the saddle on. We saddled on Thursday, when I suggested to Soffy, the amazing volunteer in charge of the event, that one on the three tours we had planned could be in English. She immediately started planning the whole thing.
Friday to Sunday we enjoyed the Great Prayer Holliday, which I love because it shows the operational and efficient Danish take on religion. On Monday we were able to announce that we will have the first event suitable for English speakers in Ladies First. Enterprising AF.
The event is a tour of three local shops; GOYOGI, Kjærs Kaffebar and Balsalen. After visiting the three venues, we meet at Tir Na Nog in their new Merchant Room for a cocktail and more networking. Price DKK 99 incl. cocktail at Merchant Room.
Now Ladies First waits for our new international – as well as Danish speaking – friends to show up open for new information, new people and new opportunities. See you on the 15th.