Back Three Tips to Transform Your Informal Social Network into Your Greatest Asset

Published 29 July 2021
There is an abundance of smart people in the world, but many are missing a key component to succeed. Having knowledge and talent is great but to progress towards your goals, you need to connect with people.

At a virtual dialogue held earlier this year, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam shared his thoughts with members of the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) Network, on the importance of nurturing and building networks, both locally and overseas. The dialogue was moderated by EDB Managing Director, Chng Kai Fong.

We take a step back and see where to begin building one’s informal social scaffolding. This informal social scaffolding refers to your personal network constructed outside of your formal education and job settings. Our lives are full of these mini-interactions which may at first seem irrelevant but could become key relationships in time. For example, you may meet someone at your child’s school and realise they have expertise in an area you are currently seeking. Recognising these moments and investing time and energy in building one’s social capital expands your available resources – making people your greatest asset.

There is no formula to developing one’s social capital, but here are three tips from us on how you can start:

1. Identify your informal social scaffolding
You may not realise how broad your informal network is or could be. Think about the people you meet as you go about your daily routine – the baristas at your frequent coffeeshop, or the regulars at your neighbourhood mart. Your informal network is hidden and rich with resources to drive you to your next destination. So, deepen your connection with them.

The next time you go about your day, challenge yourself to learn something new about a person every week. What line of work are they in? What common interests do you have?

2. Be interested in others
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – Dale Carnegie

This evergreen quote reminds us that being interested in others, makes you interesting to them – allowing you to build deeper and wider connections. As you interact with others, listen to them with intention. Show respect by valuing their point of view even if it’s different from yours. It may be challenging at times but allow yourself to be open-minded. Focus on your shared interests to keep conversations flowing.

3. Create value for others with passion and energy
As you learn more about others, identify how you can help them. Use what you know to create value for others without expecting returns. Always remember to be authentic. Instead of thinking about what you can get out of the relationship, focus on what you can offer. This can be as simple as forwarding them an article, recommending a restaurant you know they will like or connecting them with others. When people appreciate the value you give, opportunities will blossom.

Get Started Today
Start connecting in your workplace. Be an advocate to the practice of taking interest in your colleagues – supervisors, subordinates, or cross-department peers. Learn what they like, what their aspirations are, and when applicable, offer them advice and mentor them. Consciously build your social scaffolding and you may be surprised at how far this takes you.

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