How To Be a Master Networker in Southeast Asia
5 habits you need to cultivate
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Anyone in the start-up space knows that having a solid network can take you places.
“It has afforded me access and linkages to important people, influencers, movers, shakers, and tastemakers,” Arvi Lopez, head of branding and public relations at ALTUS Digital Capital, a private equity firm that invests in start-ups in emerging markets.
But just like any other skill, networking takes practice. Founder Sonia Thompson, in her Inc. article, suggests generosity-based habits that will help you become a highly-connected entrepreneur and expand your reach, impact, and business growth.
For Southeast Asian founders who want to harness their people skills, here are five ways to grow your network the right way:
1. Be genuinely interested in other people
“Effective networking necessitates the willingness to genuinely know and understand the other person’s perspective and what they are currently working on or…how you can both help each other on a long-term basis,” Lopez says.
He says networking is about building bridges with the aim of mutual growth and it is always important to start on a positive note.
2. Be a good listener
Spectres.Solutions CEO Therence John Resabal says, in an Inc. Southeast Asia article on making a good first impression, that during a conversation, he patiently waits for the other person he just met to finish talking to show that he is listening and that he empathizes with them.
Lopez encourages entrepreneurs to be more eager to ask questions and listen rather than pushing your agenda outright. In the course of his career in public relations, his network helped him support brands and, at the same time, swiftly fix crises.
“[Networking] has also given me a more balanced outlook on certain issues and often provides me with reliable feedback on how I can improve the way we do things,” he says.
3. Give with no strings attached
“Building relationships the right way is about helping other people with no expectation that will help you in return. It’s not about quid pro quo,” Thompson writes. Don’t have any ulterior motive, she adds. “Do it for the sake of making life better for the person. Nothing more.”
Lopez says, “Entrepreneurs should always be kind, positive, and collaborative when networking.”
4. Always keep proper etiquette in mind
With technology and social media being so pervasive in our everyday life, it is easy to forget how lasting relationships are built—through patience, sincerity, and proper etiquette.
“Smile, be confident, maintain eye contact, and firmly shake people’s hands at the beginning and end of any discussion. If you’re out with an objective of networking, and alcohol and/or food is being served, do not binge,” Lopez says.
He also has some tips such as: always keep your right hand clear for handshakes, always keep a modest amount of food on your plate, and it is best to repeat the person’s name after they have been introduced and always close the conversation by mentioning the name of the person as you say goodbye. And if you find that you have a common acquaintance, never gossip about them and keep the conversation positive.
5. Be patient
It pays to be patient when networking, because sometimes you may not even see the immediate need to connect with a certain person due to stark differences in views or industries.
Building a good and reliable network takes time and effort. “It is also important that you reach out to people not only in times of need or urgency, but even in times of comfort,” Lopez says.