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Where happy hours are a basic part of the business

IN one corner a lawyer talks to a computer games designer and you can hear smatterings of English, Mandarin and Shanghainese being spoken around the room.

It is an ORIENTED.COM event where business networking takes on a global and local focus.

ORIENTED was founded in 2002 and holds meetings in 12 cities around the world on the last Thursday of each month.

The "happy hours" are a chance to develop Asian business links among members who describe themselves as BMW ?? "bilingual mid-career Western-trained professionals."

ORIENTED was started in Shanghai, Taipei and Beijing with a focus on building business links in Asia.

The group has quickly grown to the point where it now has 100,000 members in many cities including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, New York, Portland, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Shanghai now has over 5,000 members and its events regularly attract between 60 to 80 people.

Head organizer, James Wu, says the events were held at the same time around the globe (7-9pm) so that people could plan their schedules and also allow visitors to join in.

"A typical member is an expat or Chinese. Some have been here for a long time, some for just a few days but all are welcome," he says. "Compared with other mixers where they have a theme or a speaker, ours has more of a relaxed atmosphere where people can meet and greet."

Members come from a broad range of professions including the law, advertising, marketing, telecommunications and finance, says Wu. More than one-third of the members come from North Asian countries, with the rest from the United States, Canada, Australia, Southeast Asia and Europe.

In Shanghai events are held at one of The Melting Pot's three venues on Hengshan Road, Taikang Road and Pudong.

According to the group's Website the average age of its members is 33, and 85 percent of the members are single.

Most hold middle management or better jobs in their chosen profession and membership is divided equally between men and women.

"Our events have a professional focus but are also about just having fun and meeting people after work," Wu says.

There are three options for membership. People can pay 100 yuan (US$14.7) to get into an event, sign up online and pay 50 yuan or pay a one-off 450-yuan lifetime membership and go to any ORIENTED event around the world for free.

Anyone wanting more information can visit its Website at and go to the Shanghai city page.


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