Networking has garnered a bad reputation because most people think it’s all about small talk. Yes, pleasantries are part and parcel of it to kickstart the conversation, but it goes beyond rubbing elbows with the who’s who in the industry.
Used strategically, networking can help you find a career path, link you up with the right industry people, or even catapult you into the professional limelight. Think of it as an investment in your present and future career paths. Here are some ways you can network beyond the typical office gatherings and events.
Look at online communities
One pro tip to networking is to never limit yourself only to your industry. It’s great that you’re hobnobbing within your industry circle, but to extend your professional reach, you must look further. One of the best ways to go about this in Singapore is to join online communities such as She Says Singapore, Honeycombers, and WeWork.
SheSays Singapore is a global organization with 21 chapters focused on running free events and mentorship for women in the digital, creative, marketing & communications industry. Its biggest ambition is to see more women at the top, in leadership roles (C-Level positions, anyone?). They hold free workshops and inspiring talks every month and even have exclusive networking nights devoted to creating supportive relationships among its members, guest speakers, and attendees. It’s the perfect community for women empowerment and creative inspiration!
Credit: She Says Singapore
Honeycombers started off as an insider’s online guide to everything in Singapore but has now extended their offering by doing ticketed leadership and entrepreneurship events. In May this year, they held a “Honeycombers presents: Like A Boss Networking Event” that featured change makers and community builders who are leading the way for women in business in Singapore. It was a great event to pick up important advice on breaking out of your career comfort zone, realising and nurturing your leadership skills, and getting in the proper frame of mind to move forward with your career and business goals. Sign up to their e-newsletter to be one of the first ones to grab tickets to their always sold-out events.
Credit: Honeycombers Singapore
WeWork is a global co-working space brand that has exciting talks and events every month that revolve around the start-up life. Their events are great for budding or even current entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to build their businesses – some past events included “Building Your Brand’s Purpose,” “The How-To’s of Entering a New Market,” and “Growing a Start-up and managing your cash flow.” The sessions are informative and practical and are also inspired ways to start thinking about new income streams or perhaps even a career change! Add to these, they frequently hold recruitment carnivals (because the words, “career fairs” aren’t exciting to hear!) that feature fun activities such as fortune readings and of course, open access to hiring companies such as Grab, Carousell, Ninja Van, and Nokia – to name a few.
Credit: We Work Singapore
There’s this helpful but currently under-utilised portion on LinkedIn that allows you to connect with leaders in your industry. The site introduced this functionality in 2017 to help members with some lightweight mentorship opportunities. Right under your profile’s dashboard is the “Career Advice” button and once you click on it, you will be led to a list of profiles that you can connect with. These mentors can give you priceless career advice and even further link you up with the right people. They list down their areas of expertise and you can easily determine if he or she is the right fit for you. Take the first step and message them first! They are more than willing to lend a professional hand.
Beyond LinkedIn, you can always seek out line managers, ex-bosses, colleagues, or industry peers to become your mentor. My top three criteria in choosing one are (1) trust – he/she is someone who genuinely has my best interests at heart (it’s never a relationship of convenience nor is it a commercial one), (2) industry experience – they’ve been there, done that, and have a good professional track record, and lastly (3) authenticity – they are not afraid to give some tough love and dole out hard-to-hear advice and constructive feedback as and when needed. There is no point in having a mentor if he or she just tells you what you want to hear. It also doesn’t need to be a regular meet-up – if they don’t have time for a coffee or drink, you can always just chat via messaging apps. I always find it helpful that whenever I have a career roadblock or a tough professional decision to make, I have a couple of wiser and more experienced industry leaders on my speed dial.
Credit: Honeycombers Singapore
Provide thought leadership
Credit: She Says Singapore
Another way to widen your network and increase your professional reach is to share industry trends or write articles, thought pieces, and opinion posts on a platform such as LinkedIn. This is especially relevant if you have an area of expertise. For example: you’re well-versed with digital marketing, specialising in programmatic or you’re an interior designer with intensive experience in designing primarily for luxury resorts. It’s all about knowledge-sharing, not humble-bragging or downright bragging about your expertise – it shows your willingness to help answer questions or provide a professional opinion on relevant topics. I have seen numerous professionals practising this on LinkedIn and they attest that this strategy has helped strengthen their standing in their respective fields and have enabled them to connect with more people. When your peers are busy building their social currency on Facebook and Instagram with their #OOTDs, you’re wisely investing in your professional relationships instead. Start building that network today.