By SGN | 18 Sep 2023
Working hard matters – but it’s not always enough. Whether you’re seeking to advance in your career, broaden your horizons, discover opportunities, or find support during challenging times, having a strong network of professional relationships can make a huge difference. Here are five reasons why:
Networking opens doors for you
Networking increases your visibility to others. Making connections with potential employers or collaborators can open the way to opportunities such as job offers, referrals, recommendations, and even new business ventures. For instance, someone you know at a company you’re interested in could tell you about job offers that have not been advertised. Furthermore, if you can get a referral from an existing employee, your resume could get favourable treatment.
It expands your outlook
Engaging with a diverse group of people beyond your age group and community exposes you to new ideas, perspectives and knowledge. Networking gives you the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences and expertise. This can help you make better-informed decisions, recognise opportunities, and navigate common pitfalls in your career path and personal life.
You get access to support and advice
By cultivating a network, you can build a support system and seek advice and mentorship from those who have faced similar challenges or achieved what you’re aiming for. You’ll be surprised how often people are pleased to help, and how many lifelong friendships have started this way. Some famous pairs include Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey.
It builds your interpersonal skills
Networking is a great way to develop confidence in interacting and communicating effectively with different types of people. The ability to make human connections will empower you to form fruitful professional relationships and meaningful friendships. As you practise these skills through networking, you will emerge a stronger leader and a better team player.
You boost your relevance by staying in the know
Maintaining connections to professionals in your field helps you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in your industry. In turn, potential employers and contacts may regard you as proactive, knowledgeable and indeed interesting to talk to, and be keen to hire you or give you a referral.
How to get started and make the most of networking
Actively engage in networking events, conferences and industry-related gatherings. For instance, make the most of Singapore Global Network resources, which are geared to help you find your tribe and discover new opportunities.
Make a list for yourself of what you aim to achieve by attending these events – this is to help you stay focused and have productive conversations. If you’re very new to networking, prepare a concise introduction about yourself, highlighting your skills, interests and goals – having this in the back of your mind will help you speak about yourself succinctly and engagingly.
Approach networking with authenticity. Make the effort to understand others’ perspectives and needs; people will be more drawn to you and you’ll have better rapport if you practise empathy and emotional intelligence. In conversation, discover if you share common interests or experiences, as this can help to create a connection.
Make yourself an asset
Networking is a two-way street – be willing to share your knowledge, expertise and resources. Collaborate on projects – this can showcase your skills and build strong working relationships. Celebrate others’ milestones and achievements to foster a sense of goodwill.
Seek mentorship opportunities
Diversify your network
Connect with people from various backgrounds, industries, and levels of experience to expand your horizons. Join online forums to engage in discussions and share insights – again, LinkedIn is a good place to look. If you have a skill you’d like to develop, joining a relevant special interest group can be an enjoyable and organic way to grow your network.
Maintain connections by following them up
Drop a thank-you note after a meeting, for instance – this makes the other party feel appreciated and leaves a good impression. Remember to stay in touch periodically.
Remember, networking is a long-term investment in your personal and professional growth. Building meaningful relationships takes time, effort and sincerity, but the rewards can be substantial.
Creating your network abroad
Attend industry events
Look for conferences, seminars, workshops, and trade shows in your field that are happening in the country you’re interested in. Attending these events will give you the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals and get a sense of the cultural and work norms of the country.
These connections could also be helpful sources of information – from work visas to favourite eateries and preferable neighbourhoods to live in. To find out about social and business events and groups worldwide, try browsing the Meetup platform, which has useful listings such as International Business Networking groups.
Check if your alma mater has alumni chapters or events in your target country. The alumni who gather at these chapters are there because they are keen to socialise and network with others, and hence will welcome you with open arms and be a willing source of advice and mutual support.
SGN local networks
SGN has communities in every part of the globe, providing a ready-made local support network for Singaporeans abroad as well as for expats to Singapore. Or get in touch directly with your local SGN regional representative, who will be happy to connect you to groups and people in your area.
Joining the Singapore Global Network is free – check it out here.
Effective networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships, not just seeking what others can do for you. When you approach networking with generosity of spirit and an openness to new possibilities, you’ll find it can be a powerful tool for accelerating your career.