5 TIPS FOR NETWORKING IN SINGAPORE
Regardless of who you are and who you’re looking for, Singapore is practically a networking heaven. There is an event for every day of the week, and in addition to some food for thought, you can easily get your pockets full of business cards. People are easy to network with and are eager to meet the newcomers.
Here’s something to get you started and turn you into a networker of the year.
1. Choose the right events
While casual networking sessions can be great, you often don’t know who is coming. Make sure to prioritize something with content to make sure you meet the right people. Usually, it’s a short talk or a panel discussion around a topic, followed by a mingling session. It’s a great way to pick up a conversation with a stranger knowing they share the same interest, be it recruiting talent or investing in cryptocurrencies.
To help you get started, check out Eventbrite Singapore or Meetup Singapore for interesting upcoming events. Co-working spaces such as WeWork, Collision 8 and The Great Room organize lots of events, get on their mailing lists for updates. And don’t forget the Finnish Business Council’s event calendar!
Majority of networking events take place in the evening so be prepared to stay after office hours.
If you’re not used to small talk, it may be tempting to choose the lonely person in the room and go talk to them. Don’t! There is, of course, a chance that they end up being exactly who you’re looking for but most likely not. And it’s really difficult to leave the conversation when there is only the two of you.
Instead, choose a group of people who are already talking. Walk up, the nod to everyone and just listen in. There is definitely someone in the group who will acknowledge you joining in, and often people start introducing themselves or the topic they’re discussing.
There’s a higher probability you’ll find someone interesting in a group of people – and if not, it’s easier to excuse yourself without being rude. Don’t worry, everyone is there to network so joining different conversations is not just understandable, it is expected.
Whatever you do, don’t end up standing in the corner with your friend comparing crossfit results over a beer.
3. Ask to be introduced
What could be a better way to get to know new people than to be introduced to them! Singapore is called the Little Red Dot for a reason, it’s small and people know each other, especially if they come from the same industry, went to the same school or come from the same country (or Scandinavia!).
Ask the person you’re talking to who is the person-to-know in your industry. Most people feel proud of showing you that they know the “who’s who” of their circles and will definitely link you up with some great people.
Don’t forget to return the favour and do the same for others.
4. Remember the relationship
Asians value relationship building over self-promotion or sales talks. Be genuinely interested in others, ask lots of questions and don’t go too hard on your pitch. While it’s perfectly acceptable to tell what you do and what you’re looking for, don’t push for it.
The family is important in Asia, and talking about yours or asking about theirs is a great relationship builder (but remember that the concept of family is different for everyone). Another great conversation starter is food. Anyone from taxi driver to the big boss in Singapore loves their food, and it’s a great way to get yourself invited for a local meal.
In Singapore, though, you’re not expected to go drinking whisky or sing karaoke before you can do business. Unless you love whisky and karaoke, of course. In that case, you may actually make some real friends!
Returning from a networking event is like coming from a round of Trick-or-treat on Halloween: your pockets are full of goodies. In today’s world, that means business cards. But there’s a great chance some of them will get lost in your messy table drawer or you will forget what you talked about.
To avoid this, do a follow up right away, latest the next day. A quick email to acknowledge the conversation, and even better if you can add a one-liner about the next steps.
If there are no next steps or you don’t really know what to write, it’s usually a sign of you speaking to the wrong person. This happens a lot in Asia because people are eager to exchange business cards before they even say hello. In such a case, don’t waste your time – dispose of the business card and move on.
Remember: not having a job is not a valid reason not to have a business card. Make sure you get one done, with your email and phone number. You will use it a lot.
Head of Slush Singapore