HR professionals are doing a lot more networking than they were 10 years ago - in large part thanks to online platforms - but they could be doing even more, says Vincent Romano, managing director of recruitment firm Elliott Scott HR, South East Asia.
“HR people typically get networking, as they are ultimately ‘people people’. If they are involved in hiring, they will want to be involved with as many people as possible or if a new labour law comes out they’ll want to call friends and colleagues to get their perspective,” says Romano.
Kent Ip, an HR business partner at Mercer in Hong Kong, is an active networker and a strong believer that if you’re generous within your network – offering ideas, time and job opportunities – the goodwill comes back to you. Like most well-connected HR executives, LinkedIn is his primary platform and he has more than 24,000 people in his LinkedIn network.
“Because of my connections on LinkedIn, I receive job opportunities every week. Of course, not all are suitable for myself, but I can help others and refer friends and by doing that I further expand my network,” says Ip.
He has grown his LinkedIn network in his five years on the site, initially by connecting with people he already knew and then by searching for people according to job title.
Fung Mei Ip, head of strategic resourcing at Prudential Co Asia, also cites LinkedIn as her primary resource for networking.
“I use LinkedIn extensively as part of my work. My focus area is resourcing so it’s all about people. I use the platform extensively to reach out to people and get some insight on the individual’s profile,” says the HR professional.
Kent Ip, meanwhile, teaches business strategy part-time at the Open University and says that helps extend his network.
“I stay in touch with all my students. They all have my personal email address and we start a Whatsapp group for the course and keep it going even after the program has finished,” he says.
Conferences are also a great way of expanding your network. The market for HR conferences is much greater in Singapore than Hong Kong and Romano puts this down to different ways of working.
“In Singapore, HR conferences are very well attended and Singaporeans like to find out what’s happening in the environment and get involved in the Q&A, whereas in Hong Kong they are more focused on the job in hand and don’t get involved as much,” says Romano.
Where HR professionals could improve, right across Asia, says Romano, is in networking outside HR with other industries.
“We don’t see many people from HR at the Chambers of Commerce. They would benefit from getting involved. And I also see they’ve got a way to go in terms of networking with IT, finance, sales and marketing,” he says.
Kent Ip’s extensive network looks like it’s about to pay off in an unexpected way. His firm, Mercer, is sponsoring a basketball league in Hong Kong and invited nine big multinationals from among its clients to form a league.
“I know someone who works in HR in the NBA in the US and I messaged him and asked if we can invite an NBA star to come to Hong Kong. I think we’ve got a good chance,” he says.