By Sean Power And
MANY young professionals have only a vague understanding of what professional networking, or business networking, is.
They think it involves conferences and other business functions attended only by senior executives - and that it has nothing to do with them. This couldn't be further from the truth. All young professionals in Cambodia should think about networking opportunities because it can advance their careers and also make their jobs more rewarding.
Professional networking is about building business relationships with professionals outside your organisation. They might be your clients or suppliers, or they might be other professionals in the same industry or profession. They might even be former classmates from university.
In a close-knit business community like Cambodia, you can also network with people from donor agencies such as the World Bank, foreign embassies, unions, the media and the government.
You might be asking, What is the point of all this networking? Is it just an excuse for a social get-together? In fact, good networking can benefit you and your organisation in many important ways.
The most direct form of networking is with existing clients or suppliers. Making an effort to strengthen these relationships will help you to win their confidence and trust - which can lead to more business opportunities for your organisation.
Networking can also make you more effective in your current role
You might become aware of a particular project that would be perfect for your company. Or you might be able to explain to someone how your two companies could work together.
Networking can also make you more effective in your current role. You can learn about other companies and industries, about different business strategies, and even about government attitudes or policies that may affect your business. You may meet someone who has access to information that would really impress your boss, such as a particular report or database.
The more people you know, then the more potential sources of information you have.
On a personal level, networking gets you known to a wide variety of people, opening up new job opportunities. The more people who know you, the more people who will think of you when they are trying to fill a job position. More generally, you can become known and respected by your peers, which can do wonders for your self-esteem.
There is one other benefit from networking that we shouldn't forget; it can be fun. Attending functions and meeting lots of interesting people can break up the monotony of your working day.
There are plenty of networking opportunities in Cambodia, even if you are fairly junior in your organisation. Campronet (www.campronet.com), an organisation dedicated to providing opportunities for young professionals to get together, is a great place to start.
In addition, the following business associations sometimes hold public functions and seminars:
- Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA), www.camfeba.com
- French-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCFC), www.ccfccambodge.org
- International Business Club (IBC), www.ibccambodia.com
- Australian Business Association of Cambodia (ABAC), email@example.com
- Malaysian Business Council of Cambodia (MBCC), www.mbccambodia.org.kh
- Women's Association of Small and Medium Businesses (WASMB), www.wasmb.com
- Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), www.gmac-cambodia.org
If you want to network and influence government policy at the same time, try and join one of the Government-Private Sector Forum's working groups (www.cambodia-gpsf.org).
Don't think that you can only network at formal events. Remember that networking is about building relationships. This can be as simple as picking up the phone or taking someone to lunch. You could organise for a few people - perhaps former classmates - to meet once a month for lunch or dinner. As each of you grows and prospers in your career, the long-term benefits of this network will grow.
Next week, we will discuss how to network effectively - what to do, and what not to do.
Sean Power is a consultant to HRINC,
one of Cambodia’s leading HR services firms,
and Sandra D’Amico is the managing director.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.