Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

The personal touch

Last week, we discussed how important it is to maintain personal connections as well as your virtual networks. Introductions via technology are a great starting point, but professional relationships are often cemented in person.

Meeting in person gives a professional edge and if you want to succeed, sooner or later you'll need to meet the people you would like to turn into clients, suppliers or staff.

That's why we advise candidates at all levels to develop their softer interpersonal skills as there are gains to be made, whether within or outside your organisation.

There are several useful tips I can give you that can help you network effectively in the 21st century.

Do not let yourself become isolated by e-mail, LinkedIn or other connection tools - make appointments to meet clients, suppliers or colleagues in person as well. Although much of your day-to-day contact may happen online, it is important to establish and retain formal face-to-face meetings too.

Seek out individuals with whom you can have a win-win connection for mutual benefit - both those you need to know in your current role, and those who can help you achieve your career goals. Remember to always build personal relationships based on trust.

Cultivate your "weak ties" - those individuals encountered casually or unexpectedly who could develop into new and useful relationships.

Open up established groups to others in your organisation to share knowledge and best practice and to revitalise networks.

Finally, don't just talk - listen to what others have to say too.

Marc Burrage is regional director of Hays in Hong Kong