A chance meeting at a networking club led to a gathering of minds and hearts for Szue Hann Tan, an architect passionate about sustainability and environmental causes.
He co-founded IxSA, the Innovation x Sustainability Alliance, a collective of business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to raise standards of innovation among sustainability startups.
Tan, who is also the Chairman of Sustainability at the Singapore Institute of Architects, says networking has brought him synergies with like-minded parties as well as meaningful friendships.
It is often the collaborative and synergistic efforts of people that make ideas and solutions a reality, he says.
“Professionally, business networking creates that very synergy; personally, it has created friendships that I cherish and treasure,” says Tan.
Tan adds that through his network, he has discovered cutting-edge designs, products and solutions, which have led to architectural and engineering marvels.
Tan’s story about networking isn’t unique. Remarkable things have happened as a result of expanding one’s connections. The story of Jimmy Fallon’s meteoric rise from a cast member on Saturday Night Live to the host of his own late night show is testament to what a genuine interest in people can deliver.
With Covid-19 restrictions on group sizes lifted since April 26 in Singapore, the chances to make new friends and leverage new opportunities at a networking club will be plentiful.
Those who want to embark on their networking journey will have their pick of networking clubs, which typically feature professional talks and leadership development workshops as places for business leaders and entrepreneurs to gather.
The Universal Benefits of Joining a Networking Club
There are a plethora of reasons people join business clubs. Here are some of the most profound ones:
More than just networking, it is about connecting with individuals and generating goodwill for a long-term outlook.
Covid-19’s social distancing measures have starved us of human connection. Loneliness and depression increased by 25 percent worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.
The need to connect has never been greater. Now that measures have been relaxed, the in-person networking can truly begin.
The rewards from building relationships, while somewhat intangible when compared with financial returns, have long-lasting impacts on businesses.
According to Ted Rubin, a leading social marketing strategist and chief marketing officer of Photofy, returns on business relationships can be quantified by calculating the number of referrals you get based on the number of times you have helped customers.
“ROR (Return on Relationship) is the value accrued by a person or a brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI (Return on Investment) is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations, and sharing,” says Rubin.
He adds that ROR is what drives businesses to build positive relationships with their customers and business partners.
Learning from experts and thought leaders
The immense popularity of podcasts, TED talks and self-improvement books and courses goes to show that people love to learn. In the same vein, networking clubs have a regular roster of coaches and experts in their field to share their wisdom and experience.
Joining a networking club means you don’t have to look through thousands of in-person or virtual events to pick one that suits you. As a member of such a club, you can leave it to the experts to curate a roster of events just for you.
These events serve to help members develop their interpersonal and management skills. For instance, workshops on creativity or on effective influencing and communication can help you develop your skills as a team leader.
Furthermore, networking clubs allow members access to rare insights from influential figures. It could be a fireside chat on current political and economic climates, or even lessons from surviving hardships and near-death experiences.
For more exclusive business clubs, where events are kept small and intimate, it gives you more opportunity to interact with the speakers directly too. It is a rare chance to meet and pick the brains of influential leaders, or even the people you admire.
Paying it forward
Founders know first-hand that entrepreneurship is filled with highs and lows. Navigating these challenges isn’t easy, and a guiding hand is essential to reach the next step of growth.
Networking clubs are a great way to meet and mentor young entrepreneurs, and to let them know they are not alone in their journey.
Oftentimes, they need the right connection to solve a problem, or some sagely advice from their more experienced counterparts. After all, seasoned entrepreneurs know too well how it feels to be stuck, while under pressure from growth targets as well as the demands of stakeholders.
It also feels good to do good. Business clubs often have community service activities that feed the soul. They can be volunteering in non-profit organisations or charities, or giving school talks to encourage youths to pursue entrepreneurship. It’s also a way to take a break from the daily grind and keep yourself grounded.
Opening doors for innovation and collaboration
While it is commonplace for entrepreneurs to seek out partnerships, sometimes, it works the other way around. It’s corporations who seek out startup founders.
According to McKinsey article Collaborations between corporates and startups, corporations want access to startups’ technologies, which are often cutting-edge and ahead of them in their markets. They may also want access to top talent, or to invest or buy over smaller firms to beef up their portfolio of services.
Business and networking clubs in Singapore
Whilst Singapore has its fair share of networking and social clubs, there are select business focused clubs that make the noteworthy list:
1880 is a private business club that has been hosting affluent professionals since 2017. Founded by Marc Nicholson, it has 50 reciprocal clubs all over the world, creating a global network spanning New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and more.
Touted as the next-generation private member’s club, Mandala Club has been hosting networking events for Singapore’s entrepreneurs, creatives and business leaders across a range of industries since 2021.
Unlike the business clubs listed here, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) does not feature in-person networking events. However, it is a rich source of knowledge in market intelligence, analyst viewpoints and geopolitical developments. On top of regular webinars by experts, it offers a body of speakers and experts who you can book to speak at your own event.
EGN was launched in 1992 as a way for professionals to exchange information and knowledge. It has grown to a global network of 14,000 members, representing 8,000 companies and 70 professions. Its Singapore presence has more than 550 senior executives and business owners.
The YLC serves young professionals between the ages 25 and 40. It aims to “catalyse practical, scalable solutions to global challenges by connecting human, financial, and educational resources”. It has 300 members in Los Angeles, New York, London, Singapore, and the Middle East and Africa region.
The Greater Club is a newly-launched networking and business club for members of co-working space, The Great Room. Inspired by hospitality, The Great Room was launched in 2016 in Singapore and it has since expanded its luxurious workspaces to Hong Kong and Bangkok.
Jaelle Ang, founder of The Great Room, launched Greater as a way to bridge communities and as a deeper platform for knowledge sharing, amid the elevated spaces of the Great Room.
The Greater Club touts itself as the business club for the future – a place where global affairs, purpose, commerce and culture intersect. Members can expect to mingle with the brightest minds and the boldest visionaries, through a carefully curated roster of workshops and events held in the Great Room spaces.
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