A few tips for Young Global Leaders attending their first WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

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Connecting Meaningfully

  • "You think you’re looking for an opportunity but you’re actually looking for a person." Think about your big vision for your organisation, and look for the people who may be able to help you make that happen.

  • Be Proactive, use Toplink to get in touch and set up time to speak. 

  • You can spend your time stalking celebrities for selfies and casual chats, or you can make something real happen. This is Davos, you can make life-changing connections. 

  • Make sure your Toplink profile is up to date.You will be scrutinised and you may get offers, these aren't random.

  • Don't feel obliged to accept all the meeting requests you get, you will be busy. Discernment is key. 

Sessions

  • Make sure you get in early for the your sessions. Last year I regretfully missed President Xi Jinping’s opening address because I arrived on time rather than early

  • Never eat alone - the breakfast, lunchtime, and dinner sessions were most impactful for me. Table topics. Intimate and interactive. The dinner sessions in particular are well worth attending. 

  • Remember that every session you are invited to is a specially reserved place FOR you, don’t make bookings "just in case"

  • You will get a lot of invitations to private events. Some of the best events weren’t on the formal schedule but choose wisely. It’s very easy to stretch yourself too thinly. One of my favourites was an off-schedule morning event by an organiation I'd never heard of that was discussing a topic I care about deeply (apprentiships as an alternative to formal higher learning). I met some fantastic people there, all of whom were interested in the topic.

  • Don’t accept invitations lightly: if you accept, go or cancel in good time. Every single person is individually added to lists and is expected, space is limited everywhere. Not showing up is disrespectful and reflects poorly. 

Publicity for your Work and Cause

  • The media is at Davos looking for stories like yours. 

  • Find out which journalists from your country and industry are attending and set up time for an interview in advance. The media follows everything that happens in Davos

Energy

  • Pace yourself. Eat healthily. Get enough sleep.

  • I’d recommend getting into top shape before the meeting. Besides the walking, you'll need stamina for all the meetings! 

  • There is a Communities Lounge for YGLs, Shapers and Schwabies. This is your home base. You can use this as a place for meetings, or simply to decompress and manage your schedule (you'll likely be shuffling your schedule based on opportunities that arise).

  • Don’t waste time doing your usual work here. This is DAVOS who knows when you’ll be back. Put an out of office. In fact, put an out of office that says you’re at the annual meeting in Davos!

Meetings

  • Davos is about the meetings you get to have with people you’d otherwise not be able to meet. Comb through the list and set up those one on ones and group meetings.

  • You will get a LOT of invitations. Only accept the ones where you have a direct interest.

  • Don’t accept meetings without an agenda. Investment banks and consultancies who set up meetings like a factory line. I thought there must be a special reason I was invited for meetings with two MDs of large banks, but in fact they’ve set up over 100 similar meetings of 15 mins each during Davos and for them if one in 10 comes through it’s worth it. In my case I wasn’t looking for investment so it was a waste of both our time.

    •  That said, if you are looking for investment, set up these meetings and come prepared with your pitch and financials. If you want to make a deal, it will happen MUCH faster if you get it done at Davos.

  • The bus rides are opportunities for serendipitous engagement. Don't waste them. Be brave enough to be first in connecting. 

  • The smaller and more intimate the venue the better. My best Davos meetings were at restaurants and coffee shops.

  • Track down the key people in your industry and don’t be shy about going to greet the. They’re there to meet people like you, and you will never find a more receptive audience with the movers and shakers in your industry than at Davos. Get into diaries well in advance if possible though.

  • Some people will say you should book yourself into sessions that don’t have anything to do with your field, I would advise the opposite. By targeting topics that you're interested in, you will meet the game-changers in that field and have the opportunity to deepen your network. 

Experiences

Some of the best memories weren’t sessions but rather experiences

  • Refugee experience

  • Microsoft hololens

  • Meditating with Matheiu Ricard.

  • Analysing and visualising my brainwaves

  • Fourth industrial revolution center

  • Company demos. They roll it out for Davos. You can get some mindblowing experiences and memories, not to mention photos.

Lastly, it's important to prepare but not over-prepare. You will meet people that will introduce you to ideas and worlds you didn't know existed. Leave time and space for this ahead of time, and when something amazing arises for you at Davos you'll be able to make the most of it. 

Your own preparation

  • It goes without saying that you should have sufficient business cards

  • Don’t waste time doing your usual work here. This is DAVOS who knows when you’ll be back. Put an out of office. In fact, put an out of office that says you’re at the annual meeting in Davos!

  • Tip from John Dutton: Use about a third of your time to represent your organisation; use a third for learning and experiences - stretch yourself; Use a third for whitespace and serendipity. 

YGLs

  •  Do: Organise a YGL meetup ahead of the main event with skiing, nightsledding and fondue.

  • It’s like the Harvard module: you will make friends for life among your YGL Davos cohort.

  • Participate as actively as possible in the YGL sessions. They are super special and memorable.

Logistics

  • Use the maps and take walking and travel distance into account when planning your sessions. 

  • There’s more walking outside the congress center than I expected. Snow grips (crampons) are really convenient but for extra safety I’d recommend getting non-slip shoes, I slipped once when I was in a rush and was lucky not to injure myself more seriously. 
  • Take a picture of your cloakroom tag on your phone, in-case you lose it. 

  • Download and use the Toplink events app

  • Take a backup battery - the days are long!

  • Davos and Klosters is beautiful in January. If you can spend a bit of extra time there, do so!

Any questions or comments, let me know on Telegram.

Posted
AuthorDave Duarte