Broadening your network

71235878 – delegates networking at conference drinks reception

I was recently asked “how is it that someone from a financial sector background ended up as a judge at the Australian International Beauty Pageant?

I thought for a moment and without hesitation answered: it’s due to the power of networking”. Let me explain further.

My father, who came to Malaysia as a 13-year-old migrant and went on to become a successful businessman, taught me everything I needed to know about networking.

When I returned to Australia from Malaysia, I knew very few people in Sydney. I was a woman, I looked different and I had an accent. I had to work hard at meeting people to become better known in my chosen field of financial services. I participated in many industry and networking events and, thanks to my networking efforts, I was rewarded with a management role. After that, all of my subsequent jobs came about through networking.

In my second career move, when I left the corporate sector and became a personal branding specialist, I had to start all over again. I joined the International Association of Image Consultants, was appointed to the Sydney Board and became its President. This gave me the opportunity to be better known both here and overseas by attending, and sometimes speaking at conferences. Now I can draw upon my network of people from around the world to source critical information on topics such as intercultural protocols.

In my latest career move, I have developed a program to help skilled migrants to integrate seamlessly into our Australian society. I am drawing on all of my previous experiences in networking so I can help other migrants find opportunities in their chosen field.

Such is the power of networking.

So how can you broaden your network to help you in your business?

Why not speak to someone you don’t know when you are buying your lunch, standing next to someone on the bus or the train or at the supermarket or newsagent. I am not afraid to walk up to someone and compliment them if I think they look good. And many times, people have told me that I have made their day.

Similarly, I have received compliments from total strangers. Recently, I met a lady at a train station who complimented me on my necklace. We got chatting, so then the couple chose to sit with me and we discovered mutual interests. We ended up exchanging numbers and she insisted on taking a photo with me. What I have ended up with is a new contact and who knows where that may lead to in my network?

So why not try broadening your network today. See my blog on ‘Seven tips for networking success’.

Soraya Raju is the CEO and Founder of Migrate Success. She is a cultural integration expert and has developed the LAB program© – LOOK, ACT, BELONG – which covers workplace etiquette, language and cultural integration for professionals and skilled migrants.

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