Networking 101 with Mervin Yeo

Last night, I was at the Association for Professional Trainers, Singapore (APTS) meeting and the speaker was Mervin Yeo. I didn't tell him that I would be present last night and so he was a little surprised to see me.

He talked about his pet subject - networking. Having attended events that he has organised and hosted, I must say that he is certainly an expert on the topic.

He cleared a few misconceptions about networking - about how people think it's only about talking to other people, that it's difficult and stressful, and that it's all about name cards and quick introductions.

Mervin reminded us that the mindset we hold when networking will determine the outcome of the relationships we form. If we are only there to 'push name cards' or collect them, we will form superficial 'contact' relationships. If, however, we take the time to find out how we can collaborate and help the other person, we form 'connection' relationships. 

We do this by introducing people to each other as well as to products and services that have benefited us. We also have the opportunity to share ideas, feedback and information, knowledge and expertise, as well as advice and encouragement.

With a right mindset about networking - how it's about helping others, and not just about yourself - it's going to be much easier to go up to another person and make a new connection.

Of course, networking benefits us as well. Mervin illustrates this by showing us that networking gives us:

1) Sources of inspiration

2) Job / Gig recommendations

3) Referrals

4) Connections to people we want to meet

5) Opportunities to learn and profit

6) Information about the industry, market and other things we may have never considered

7) A an avenue to stay on track of our goals

With such benefits, I ended up feeling that I've lost many chances to network (with the right mindset) in the past. I'm going to have to self-accelerate in this area and get out there to do it.

To top it all off, one of the founders, David Lee, encouraged all of us to write on two post-it notes. One note will contain an offer of value to someone else (for free, of course), that is, how we can help another person. The other note will contain a request for help in area that we need.

Well, I offered my help to guide and assist new fellow trainers in their presentation skills and their training processes, both of which I have been sharpening over the past 10 years.

I requested help getting into corporate training sessions, especially in the area of presentation and communication skills, as well as my pet topic - introversion, this time, in the workplace.

It was a great learning session, during which I also got to talk to some new people and practise my networking skills. And, as I'm now a full-fledged member of the association, I'm proud to be part of it.