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Forget LinkedIn: Davos shuttles are the ultimate networking tool

By Isa Soares, CNN
updated 1:15 PM EST, Fri January 25, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The six-seater shuttle buses at Davos are the best way to meet fellow attendees
  • Seats face each other so passengers tend to make small-talk
  • The shuttles have provided an excellent point of introduction to VIPs, says CNN's Isa Soares

Editor's note: Isa Soares is a Quest Means Business producer. Follow her on Twitter. Quest Means Business is presented by CNN's foremost international business correspondent Richard Quest. Follow him on Twitter and watch Quest Means Business on CNN, 0700pm GMT weekdays.

Davos, Switzerland (CNN) -- Walk the halls of Davos and you're bound to bump into celebrities, heads of state and even princes and princesses.

This is where you can be seen, be heard and be indulged.

The World Economic Forum's little white book which provides contacts for each attendee is the best business bible around.

But you don't need to hang around the halls or wait to stake out your favorite executive to get their contact.

The best way to network here is to take the shuttle.

It's free, it's warm and -- being Swiss -- it always arrives on time.

Inside, the six-seater bus has been made for interaction, with passengers facing each other.

With eye to eye contact and closed doors, they are forced to engage in conversation.

I have been taking the shuttle since Saturday, and on each occasion, I have made small talk with the passengers.

South African actress Charlize Theron picked up the 2013 World Economic Forum Crystal Award for her humanitarian work. The Oscar winner reportedly said: "There is such incredible brain trust in this room I feel I'm getting smarter by osmosis." South African actress Charlize Theron picked up the 2013 World Economic Forum Crystal Award for her humanitarian work. The Oscar winner reportedly said: "There is such incredible brain trust in this room I feel I'm getting smarter by osmosis."
Davos 2013: More than just suits
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In pictures: Davos 2013 In pictures: Davos 2013

Of course, I am always the one to instigate it, but it does just take one person to get the conversation flowing.

On Wednesday night, post dinner, I met the Dean of the Said Business school in Oxford.

Last night, I was lucky to start a conversation with the head of Standard & Poor's.

The beauty of the shuttle is that no one knows anyone, so conversation normally begins with "Are you enjoying Davos? When did you get here?".

Midway through the journey, if you're lucky enough to be stuck in traffic, then will you get into the most important question: "What do you do?".

That's when I smile and they frown.

I get excited that I have met a CEO, a vice president or the head of an NGO.

They are disappointed that I'm a journalist.

I'm quick to tell them that I'm not working and that everything is off the record. In cases such as this, when you have all of five minutes, it's crucial that you show your journalistic integrity and present them with a picture of a person rather than a journalist. I always think to myself: "Don't force it, be natural."

This attitude has enabled to me make more contacts than on any other occasion.

During a half hour shuttle journey on Thursday, I met a New York hedge fund manager, the chairman and CEO of Bayer, the VP of a Norwegian bank and many many more fascinating people.

In true traditional networking style, they exit with well wishes and all, without exception, hand out their business cards.

So forget LinkedIn -- come to Davos and the shuttle.

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