5 Networking Tips I’ve Learnt to Build My Professional Network in a New Country with Zero Connections

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Moving to Singapore with zero connections, I faced the challenge of building a professional network from scratch. Networking can change your career trajectory, leading to opportunities you might never have encountered otherwise. Here are five tips I’ve learned to make networking more enjoyable.

1. Focus on Building Genuine Connections

Instead of targeting people based on their job titles, industry, or seniority, aim to make one genuine connection (and hopefully friend). This approach reduces pressure and makes networking feel less like work. Broadening your network naturally follows when you prioritise building authentic relationships.

2. Prepare Conversation Starters

Having pre-prepared questions can ease initial conversations. Some of my favourites include:

  • What brings you to [this event]? Why do you find it interesting?
  • How do you know the speaker or organisers?
  • What are you most excited about currently, both at work and outside of work?

3. Remember: Everyone’s in the Same Boat

If you find yourself standing alone, remember that others are likely feeling the same way. Most people will welcome your introduction. A simple smile and a “hi” can start a conversation. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to focus on you.

4. Apply Classic Networking Advice

Principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” still apply. Listen actively and show genuine interest in others. Smile often and remember people’s names. Everyone has something interesting to share if you’re willing to listen.

5. View Networking as a Skill

I approach each event as an opportunity to grow, reminding myself that networking is a skill that can be improved with practice. I’m not born with it – I’m learning and getting better.

Bonus Tip: Take Notes

After each event, I jot down notes about the people I met and conversations I had. This helps me strengthen existing relationships and make future interactions more meaningful.