More and more Astana residents and foreign visitors have been attending Fryday networking events. Each function attracts over a hundred professionals from different walks of life. With Astana being Kazakhstan’s administrative centre, running into local government officials, foreign embassy staff, bankers, representatives of the oil and gas sector, interpreters or even one’s colleagues is not uncommon at such events.
“Our guests are mostly fluent in English and therefore, foreigners feel at home as well; there is no language barrier and they can easily communicate. Also, locals have the opportunity to socialise with foreigners, give advice and share their impressions and knowledge of the city. I think our guests like that,” Fryday project manager Merey Mustafina commented.
According to Mustafina, this was the first event of 2014; it didn’t have a theme. “We have just announced the beginning of the new Fryday season,” she said.
“I think we can have a mutually beneficial relationship with entrepreneurial and professional associations, trade representatives and chambers of commerce and other specialised professional networks,” Mustafina added. “Often, this type of network is limited to consultations on specific subjects and they are very formal. In a two year span, Fryday Astana has come a long way with its large scale events and now has its own data base of who might be interested in specific audiences and communities.”
According to Mustafina, finding a suitable location with an appealing interior and such details as good parking are key. She admits that sometimes cooperating with restaurants in Astana is a challenge, as “not everyone understands the need of brand recognition and PR. If they own a business [with a somewhat] recognisable name, they do not feel the need to promote it, the same goes for services unfortunately,” she said.
Mustafina went on to list some of the factors that reflect on the events.
“First of all, we are pioneering these types of events in Astana. There may have been such events in the past in Astana, but they were closed and overly formal. Secondly, our events have an air of freedom, we don’t have long presentations, speeches or programmes ‘You come when you please and leave when you so desire.’ Thirdly, the guests themselves create the atmosphere with assistance from the atmosphere of the venue. The fourth factor is that we offer a social platform for informal socializing. One person can simply walk up to another and offer a business card and start a conversation. Fifth, is our Fryday W events [on Wednesdays] which have a business focus; they help guests interact and discover new things both professionally and personally. Many have liked this type of gathering and we are planning to further expand them by inviting high caliber speakers. The sixth factor is that many networking events target ex-patriots; we target locals, but also welcome foreigners. The ratio of locals to foreigners is about 80 to 20 percent,” Mustafina explained.
The next event will be held on Feb. 28 and will most likely be dedicated to International Women’s day on March 8.