While it’s not possible to plan who we get to meet in this lifetime, we can definitely take the initiative to foster great relationships with the ones we do meet. Ever heard your peers, seniors, and even career guiders talk about professional networking as if it has the power to make or break your dreams? Here are 9 ways to building a professional network in Singapore that will prepare you for smoother, more enjoyable interactions to reach your goals!
One mistake Singaporeans make as they begin to network, is to enter an event feeling like their dreams and lives are at stake and in the hands of whoever they meet. While that is incredibly daunting, it is also false because networking is not as scary as it seems. Though it does require time and effort as all relationships do, it can also be fun while you’re at it no matter what personality type you are. So let’s dive right into these ways to developing a professional network in Singapore!
1. Choose Networking Events And Organisations That Are Significant To You
What matters to you?
Professional networking can seem like such a huge thing from afar, but it actually starts with, what matters to you? It is actually easy for people to tell when someone’s heart is not there.
So, choose an event or organisation that’s closer to your heart. It should be something you know about, something you can talk about and would even love to find out more. Extroverted or introverted, when you show up with a desire to make meaningful connections because it holds significance to you, the battle has already been halfway won!
Research, platforms, and conversation
To better prepare yourself, do some research about the event/organisation, as well as the attendees beforehand. This will help to manage your expectations and give you ideas on what kind of conversations you can have while you’re there.
Another alternative is to have an honest conversation with friends and family about what you’re passionate about. This gives them the opportunity to look out for you in the future if as well, if they have contacts, or know of events that you will be interested in!
2. Be Genuinely Interested
To gain a friend, one must first be friendly
Perhaps, this is one of the most popular ways to building a professional network in Singapore that can’t be said enough. As you show up, make it worthwhile by being attentive, and being curious!
When you are interested in a topic or a person, you naturally become interesting yourself! Make it your personal goal to always ask open-ended questions. Come up with a list of such questions as well before meeting anybody in case you wind up unsure of what to say.
Transparency promotes diversity
It actually doesn’t matter so much whether the person you’re talking to is of high status or not, because every connection counts. Diverse contacts allow you to tap into different potentials!
Be open to people you meet by first introducing yourself, and it doesn’t have to be just your name. Talk about what made you come to the event and why you love what you’re passionate about. If you can be transparent about who you are and what you do, it will become a great foundation of trust for the relationship.
3. Offer Help First
Successful networks are a two-way street
If you want to develop a professional network in Singapore, offer help first! It’s almost always a turn-off when someone comes up seeking favours but gives none in return. Though networking can open doors of opportunity for your future endeavours, these contacts are not withdrawal machines to obtain favours from! They are real people who are potential friends, not just contacts when in need!
One way to establish that is to extend sincere help to them first! This will steep trust in the connection, and render you memorable. Don’t worry if you are not completely confident in your area of expertise yet. Or maybe you are still discovering what that expertise is for yourself. That’s alright because sincerity will go a long way, and this can aid transparency in the conversation too.
Look for an entry point
As you create a conversation with the person you’re talking to, listen to them carefully and search for an entry point to extend your help. For example, if they mention the latest project they’re working on, ask more questions about it, and jump in to express your fervency to help. However, if there is no entry, extending help can also be a way to end the conversation on a good note.
4. Your Body Language Makes A Difference in Building Your Professional Network in Singapore
Your body language as others speak
A key to making a professional network in Singapore is body language. For most people, we are comfortable being with others who show they actually care and are listening to you. As you listen and talk to a person, show them that you’re actually processing what they’re saying.
Body language is key! Some essentials of body language are: not multitasking when they’re speaking, nodding at intervals, smiling, or mirroring their expressions. This is especially comforting for people you’re not very familiar with. It makes someone’s story feel much more interesting than what it may be!
Your body language as you speak
Likewise, as you speak, there are also certain body languages that show whether you are really confident or not. Eye contact, facial expressions, mannerisms such as ‘umm’ and ‘like’, even the way you stand and your hand gestures, can give away a lot about you. These little reactions actually have the power to help you be engaged or engage better. Ask someone you trust to observe you as you speak, or as they speak. Let them point out to you the mannerisms and body language you have that could be misleading. This is one way you can practise developing your skill of professional networking.
5. Follow-Up And Follow-Through
Remember to leave your contact details with whoever you’re speaking with if you see the potential for a meaningful connection. And at the end of the event or meet-up, always drop the person a follow-up note to thank them. This would make the other party remember you better! Make it a point for yourself to invest into them from there. If there are any upcoming events that you share common interests in, invite them along. If you’ve extended help to them, ask them about it again and follow where that leads you. Following up will take time, so if your connection doesn’t immediately manifest into something great, it’s okay! Keep doing it on a regular basis that you deem fit for yourself, and be a friend! This would greatly help you in making professional contacts and developing your professional network in the Singapore context.
6. Utilise Media Platforms
Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, these are just a few examples of the platforms we all have access to that can help us with building our professional network. If a contact number can’t be given or obtained, social media platforms do just fine too! It’s still a great beginning to more meaningful relationships if you struggle to connect with someone right away. Casually commenting on their posts can also be a door for future conversations be it online or offline. You also can check out professional networking sites like Facebook pages as well as Telegram and Whatsapp channels.
These applications or sites have always been meant to make the world smaller. So, utilize this privilege to your benefit!
7. Identify Their Networking Style
This is one of the more unsung ways to creating a professional network in Singapore. There are many different types of people you will meet when you network. Identifying the personality type of the person you’re talking to is a chance to better articulate yourself so as to speak at a level that they most appreciate. This is because there are ways to speak where you can better appeal to who you are speaking to. To illustrate, if you identify someone’s behavioural style as collaborative from observing how they speak and what they say, you can have a conversation about teaming up together and they would appreciate it.
Of course, this is for follow-up meet-ups as you get to know more of who and how they are like. Take this DiSC Profile Assessment to find out more about your working style and those of others!
8. Find A Mentor
Is there someone in your life you aspire to be like?
This is another one of those relatively unknown tips to building a professional network in Singapore. A ‘master’ or a ‘mentor’ is not just someone with a position you desire. It is someone with a similar yet fuller set of strengths and abilities than you. Learn more about this person and don’t be afraid to ask him/her for a hangout.
Alternatively, you can ask mutual contacts politely to refer you to this person. This is something quite rare among millennials today, as many tend to stick around only with their age group. However, it is important to note that you will become more like who you hang out with. If there is someone you want to be like, pursue them and learn to ask of them without being demanding.
It’s okay to be intentional
A mentor should always first be your friend, so approach him/her with that mindset and let their life naturally inspire and challenge yours. Remember that finding a mentor starts with intentionality, and it is not to gain something out of that person. Rather, it is that you have already been inspired and desire to get to know them better. Having a mentor is a great lifetime investment, so, be eager to look for them and keep them close!
9. Be Consistent And Stay Positive
There are many more articles out there about networking in Singapore and it is easy to get tired or discouraged if the connections made still do not seem to last, or if things just don’t work out. Take breaks and pace yourself at a timing you can cope with, but be consistent with attending gatherings and meet-ups to befriend. Relationships take a lot of work, and it will take time for the meaningful ones to fully blossom. Stay positive about it because your efforts in building a professional network will not be in vain. As you keep going at it, the easier it will get for you to network and the more you will start to find balance after the first few rounds of faltering. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And in other words, be consistent and stay positive!
As you build upon these 9 ways to building a professional network in Singapore to get you started, remember that even though networking can get intimidating at times, negative experiences at events or meet-ups are not indicative of all networking interactions. There are many different types of people, and ways unique to yourself to network that only you can explore and discover. It might take a while before you find a comfortable pace for yourself, and there is nothing wrong with that! Professional networking is not just for a certain type of a person, you should be able to do it too. Enter with a smile, and don’t give up!
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