Hello SOTGC community,
Fikas are a social phenomenon in Sweden, and it is one of the first customs you have to get used to when visiting or living in Sweden. Fika is a Swedish word and translates as “taking a break for coffee and a pastry.” Besides coffee, tea is okay too. A traditional fika must also include pastries such as cinnamon buns, cookies, cakes, or even open-faced sandwiches. To fika is a legitimate reason to set aside a moment for quality time with colleagues, family, friends, or someone you are trying to get to know. In that sense, it’s a traditional Swedish way of networking and keeping good relations with colleagues, friends, and family. You may have a fika at home, at work, or in a café. And preferably you do it several times a day. The fika tradition has been taken with great success to New York—see http://www.fikanyc.com/
A study recently published by Manpower Work Life showed that 40 percent of Swedish employees are treated with a fika by their employer at least once a week. There is a saying that many problems are solved at the coffee machine and at the fika break. Even new, innovative ideas often see the light of day at a fika, where new contacts might also be made and teams formed. Fika has for a long time been an essential part of the Swedish business life, and the importance of fika is actually increasing since it gives you a break in today’s very hectic and stressful business life. It’s enjoyable and makes you more efficient and productive.
The art of fika at work and why it’s excellent for networking is because it’s like making small talk in a relaxing atmosphere. While I was writing this post it crossed my mind that having a fika in Sweden is similar to going out for a drink in the U.S.
As in any meeting, you need to be clear and focused on your purpose for networking. Successful networking will create sustainable networks and is made by building trusting relationships. That requires good communication skills and being present and authentic in meetings. And it’s the same whether you do it offline or online. One way to be present is to ask questions and to listen actively. A simple way to keep a conversation active is to use the six W’s.
The six W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
The groundwork for rhetoric and communication is the six W’s, and it is also a base for taking you successfully through life. Successful networking requires you to ask questions and listen to the answers from both yourself and others. Asking questions and listening is also important for being successful in other areas of communication as well.
Where you network is also important. When looking for a fika place, consider an environment that feels comfortable and is relaxing. Look at the interior design: Are the chairs comfortable and is the noise level conducive for talking and listening? These are crucial factors for successful networking.
Tips for successful networking
- Go for a fika at a place with good coffee and sweets, or have a Skypefika online if it’s not possible to meet in person. It works fine as well!
- Be who you are
- Meet every person with the same curiosity as an unread book
- Develop good communication skills online and offline
- Pay attention and be engaged and focused on the person you’re talking to
- LISTEN first, reflect, then speak
- Make a distinction between the issue talked about and the person talked to
- Give and take. Givers gain (or sharing is caring.) The law of karma works.
- Relax, enjoy and smile a lot.
For successful networking, you have to be authentic and be active and engaged in the person you’re talking to. A sustainable network is built on trustworthy interpersonal relationships. In today’s digitized world, social business is emerging as the way to succeed in the new world of work. Networking is necessary for a successful life, both inside and outside the office.
So, I hope, by now, you are inspired to try networking the Swedish way by having a fika. If you want some more tips on the art of fika and recipes for sweets, take a look at the book, Fika – The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. It’s written and illustrated by the entrepreneurs Johanna Kindvall and Anna Brones. Check out them and the book at www.johannak.com and www.annabrones.com.
In this digitized era of work I do take Skypefikas with colleagues and friends. If you’re in for a Skypefika let me know! I’d love to network the Swedish way with you by having a fika online. My skype is cathrin.frisemo.
Treat yourself with a fika today, and even use it as an excuse to network with someone you thought about networking with for a while but didn’t know how to go about doing it in a good way.
“Meeting a new person is like opening an unread book”—Cathrin Frisemo
Enjoy your day!