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October 28, 2009

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Cocktails and networking nights kicked off by French Chamber

THE French Chamber of Commerce is known for swishy events, but now it offers informal evenings of speakers, cocktails and networking. Nancy Zhang reports. The French Chamber of Commerce has kicked off the autumn season with monthly evenings of cocktails and featured speakers.

Celebrity and entrepreneur Yue Sai Kan was the guest speaker at the first such informal event last night for the French Chamber, CCIFC.

"This is the only networking event in Shanghai aimed at connecting the French and Chinese business communities," says organizer Manuel Deleers, a member of the board of the CCIFC.

As the head of publicity and events company ID Factory, Deleers has helped organize many chamber events.

The evenings are expected to take place in the last week of every month. Admission is 150 yuan (US$22) and the events are open to non-members.

The French Chamber of Commerce is known for its formal galas and speakers, but a more informal platform for members to talk to each other and network was missing, says Deleers. The new cocktail evenings are a response to members' requests for such a platform.

Although the cocktails are somewhat informal, they are still kept "a bit prestigious," featuring high-profile speakers and charging admission.

The format will feature a short talk, no longer than 15 minutes, followed by time to network. The speaker, a high-level personality in the business, artistic or civic field will also network with those in attendance.

"The idea is to create a topic for discussion among the attendees," says Deleers. "This format also allows more direct access to the speaker, in contrast to a bigger talk or training events, and it prompts more questions and answers between the attendees and the speaker."

Speakers under consideration include the general manager of BNP Paribas speaking on the worldwide financial crisis, the architect of the France Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo and French author Michel Houellbec on his newly released book.

Organizers are seeking Chinese speakers, such as the founder of Internet company Alibaba.

At last night's event at the Kee Club, Kan spoke about her experiences setting up a cosmetics company and the possibilities of setting up similar ventures in the current climate.

Speakers will also be invited to discuss their experiences in China and how current events are affecting them.

Venue: Kee Club (Twin Villas, 796 Huaihai Rd M.) or Pavillion Costes (House 17, 181 Taicang Rd)

For more information, check the French Chamber of Commerce Website (


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