professional networking
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Updated 11 months ago

It might be challenging to establish a professional network, especially when relocating to Manila. But if you know where to look for the right pool of connections, this does not need to be such a daunting task. Here are some tips for building your professional network and get the most of the various opportunities available in Manila.

The importance of professional networking in Manila

When you settle down in a new place and want to grow your career there, it’s important to develop a professional network for yourself. Interacting and connecting with new people is essential no matter what your profession is or how long you’ve been in the industry. This is no different in Manila, where the opportunities you’re most interested in often come in through someone you know.

Popular networking websites

Naturally, your first stop would be to look online. And luckily there are plenty of good jumping-off points to get started with networking. There are several professional or semi-professional events that take place during the week or weekends, especially in the CBDs such as Makati in Metro Manila. You can find out about these events through websites like Eventbrite and Meetup, not to mention Facebook, which remains the most popular social network in the Philippines. These professional events are good places to get your foot in the door. For example, QBO Innovation hub organises events supporting the tech startup community, and the Asian Development Bank hosts events with a focus on social and economic development.

When you do actually attend an event, don’t forget to use the sign-up sheet at the event to add your contact info so that you can be invited directly for similar events in the future and not miss out. Besides online websites, the business section of your local newspaper can also be a good source of events.

Conferences and expos in Manila

Finally, don’t forget to watch out for more prominent conferences that may be taking place in your field - early-bird tickets can get sold out quickly. Although less intimate than group meetups, such events can keep you abreast of what’s happening in the industry. Examples include the Philippine SME business expo and conference targeted towards small and medium business owners, and the Asia Food Expo dealing with the food processing and packaging industry.

Attending a professional networking event in Manila

A networking event often revolves around an existing topic or agenda, e.g. a presentation or talk by one of the members, but usually allows plenty of time for mingling. That said, it is entirely your responsibility to take advantage of the opportunity and introduce yourself to new people. This need not be formal at all - for instance, it’s perfectly okay to break the ice by making small-talk about the weather or the traffic!

Attendees are usually keen to talk about their own professional lives, and it’s very important to be a good listener. Ask them questions and be interested in their answers. Try to develop an attitude of aiming to help other people - perhaps you know of a solution to the difficulties they’re facing, or perhaps you know someone else that they should definitely talk to.

Don’t forget to exchange contact info - if you don’t yet have a business card, you can easily order them online for as low as 350 pesos, for example at Photobookphilippines. After the event has ended, you can connect with them online by sending an email or perhaps adding them on LinkedIn. There are more impactful ways of getting noticed - for example, if you are knowledgeable in your field, one excellent approach is to offer to give a talk or presentation at the group’s next meetup. Most event organisers would be more than happy to include you in their line up.

Online professional networks

Online professional networking is another important avenue. LinkedIn, for example, is gaining popularity in the Philippines as in other countries. You could detail your work history in your profile and also use the website’s social-networking features to trumpet your achievements. Moreover, having Linkedin in your arsenal also allows you to make use of your existing professional network from your home country to try to expand into this new country. You never know if someone you used to work with in the past can now connect you with someone they know in Manila or the rest of the Philippines.

Networking at the workplace

If you are already employed and spend your days at the office, networking within the company is very important too. Not only would this help create useful connections within the company to generate ‘synergy’ and improve its existing business, but it would also add more people to your pool of people who could lend you a helping hand in the future. After-work team dinners or happy-hour drinks are a low-stress way of socialising with the team. Besides, try to invite newer work acquaintances to such lunch or dinner outings so that you can expand the circle.

With these approaches, your professional network in Manila should be off to a great start!

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