Building Your Social Network

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hermit crabHeads up — I’m not talking about adding/following more friends on Facebook or Weibo here. Rather, this post shares some of my thoughts and experience about building real social connections, or specifically your business network as some might call it. Read on.

I think many folks don’t understand how important this is. Whether you’re a geek, designer, or business developer, when you start out, it is common to be a little shy or tentative. I was a hermit crab hiding in my shell and believed that I could do more by staying put at the work desk.

But somehow the nature of my job forces me to meet new people, drink coffee, shake hands, and network. It does take some courage for a shy person but the learning journey has been awesome so far.

To me, every new relationship established provides a possible reach of new connections which could be tapped on in the future. But of course, don’t be an asshole and only befriend someone just because they might be “useful.”

I’ve learned that it is good to meet up with anyone if time permits you to do so. Whether they are successful people or someone who’s struggling, every new person you meet is a new learning opportunity. Just as you can learn a lot from successful people, there is probably just as much that can be learned by talking with those who have failed.

Many of our business collaborations come from referrals (often friends of friends) or through people we meet at events. And interestingly, people who are seen as “less important” tend to be important in some part of the journey.

Also note that not all meetings should be business focused. Rather, it is a good habit to have meetings that are focused on building/strengthening relationships. So instead of calling it your business network, call it your social network. It makes it sound more friendly that way.

I like how Mark Suster wrote about why coffee meetings are so important to entrepreneurs. He has listed six reasons to explain why and I particularly like number three — relations with journalist (and bloggers, yes i stuffed this in myself!). Somehow, Asians don’t seem to get how journalists and bloggers — not just us but also others — are helping to tell the story and spread awareness in this ecosystem. Obviously, as a blogger I could go on about this, but I’d better keep it short.

And on the point on recruitment, all of our team, like Rick, Steven, and Charlie were recommended through friends of friends. My friend Serkan recommended Rick who in turn recommended Steven. We randomly (and quite fortunately) found Charlie in the hopes of possible collaboration on a writing gig.

So there you go. Like it or not, relationships and connections are a large part of business. I’m ending off with a quote from Suster — “Go on. Get out of your fraking office and make it happen.”

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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