The Science of Networks: How Connectivism is Changing Our Interactions

By: R.E.H.

Connectivism Can Change the Way We Work

Psychologists are Divided About the Implications of Being Constantly Connected to the Digital Sphere

Developing Connections Within Networks is Actually More Important Than Acquiring the Knowledge Itself

ConnectivismImage source: ematrix.uk

Almost everything these days revolves around our gadgets and, more specifically, the networking apps that help us get through the simplest of daily tasks as well as social or professional situations. This is evident everywhere from catching up over social media with friends or e-meeting potential business contacts to finding a personal assistant through a gig economy app or even getting a virtual doctor’s check-up!

Everything is networked. Everything is connected. This newfound sense of being connected has led the academic world into a tailspin as social scientists and psychologists try to understand the implications. While there are many different theories that explain individual elements of the impact of digitalisation and how networking has changed the way that modern society functions, none are quite so poignant as the emerging study of ‘Connectivism’.

What is Connectivism and How Does it Affect the Workplace?

Connectivism is rooted in the belief that everything belongs to a network. Networks are the basis for biological life—the integration of cells to form a living object. Networks are the basis for social life— the integration of relationships to form a community. Networks are the basis for technology: nodes connect to hubs to create complex digital applications.

Connectivism emphasises that the capacity to learn through these networks and foster them are a core life skill. Essentially, it is through networks that all knowledge is acquired and distributed.

The originator of the connectivism theory, George Siemens, wrote in his article “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age” that “Connectivism also addresses the challenges that many corporations face in knowledge management activities. Knowledge that resides in a database needs to be connected with the right people in the right context in order to be classified as learning”.

Connectivism also highlights the surprising idea that learning to maintain and develop connections within networks is actually more important than acquiring the knowledge itself.

One example of this is recent research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research publications, which has found that being connected to a large social network within an organisation is more influential than being knowledgeable or holding an important title.

Social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn are great examples of connectivism at work in the business sector. These networking sites demonstrate that the more followers you have, the more influence you have to disseminate information. LinkedIn has recently capitalised on this accessible connectivity by creating an invite-only LinkedIn Influencer program.

According to the Nordic media monitoring company, Meltwater.com, the program is made up of “… a global collective of 500+ of the world’s foremost thinkers, leaders, and innovators”.

While LinkedIn Influencers are primarily made up of public figures, social media influence is present even on a smaller scale across the internet. The research report, “Enabling Community Through Social Media”, published by JMIR Publications, comes to the conclusion that “Prominence in the network appears to be related to familiarity with individuals, for example, more active participants receive more attention in terms of mentions and retweets”.

This opens the possibility for employees who may have been confined to the ‘lower ranks’ of an organisational hierarchy, to gain an audience as large as the managing board, dependent on their ‘connectivism’ skills to entice followers.

In this way connectivism is already organically encroaching into organisations large and small. Traditional hierarchies, which place power at the top level of management, are being replaced with models that allow for greater levels of power distribution. Models that promote feedback networks in which reflexive learning and decision-making give a voice to employees at all levels of the organisation are starting to be seen as the future in office culture.

Workplaces are necessarily moving away from “Do as I say” to “What do you think?”, promoting employee engagement. This demonstrates that connectivism is helping companies to fully value each member of the team, while equally supporting each member to become more invested in the company’s goals. Both results are achieved in companies that perform as an integrated network, rather than a top-down pyramid.

How Does Connectivism Relate to Vietnam?

Connectivism, and understanding its role in Vietnam, is perhaps most important when applied in training the next generation.

ConnectivismImage source: Shutter Stock

Corporate Connective Open Online Courses (COOC) should be used to make the future Vietnamese workforce more connected, according to Nguyen Manh Hung’s article “Using Ideas from Connectivism for Designing New Learning Models in Vietnam”, published in The International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol. 4. A COOC is basically a networked way of learning that allows corporations to offer targeted online training courses for future employees or clients.

Nguyen expresses the need for Vietnam to move away from traditional learning methods in the education systems towards COOC, which can be used successfully in “education environments with developing infrastructure like Vietnam”.

The digitalisation of the workplace has created an increasing demand for employees who are flexible, agile, resilient and able to make connections—to learn as the job requires. The recommendation to promote skills that make us effective lifelong learners, which started as a whisper, has turned into an urgent cry.

It is no longer enough to train youth in industry-specific knowledge. Now it is necessary to train them to know how to make connections. Future leaders need to know how to make connections between information pools in order to create, innovate and make refined decisions. They need to be able to connect to networks in order to become influencers, visionaries and leaders. Connections are what will allow them to continue to be a part of our evolving human story.

A giant in the research of networks, Dr Barabasi, said, “Each of us is part of a large cluster, the worldwide social net, from which no one is left out. We do not know everybody on this globe, but it is guaranteed that there is a path between any two of us in this web of people. Likewise, there is a path between any two neurons in our brains, between any two companies in the world, between any two chemicals in our body. Nothing is excluded from this highly interconnected web of life.”

Like this article? Read more about Business and Networking on CityPassGuide.com.

Banner Image source: Shutter Stock


The Golden Circle

By: Patrick Gaveau

Too few organisations effectively know WHY they do what they do. And by WHY I don't mean “to make money”, that's just a result. I mean... 

What is your purpose?

The Golden Circle is an inspiring model and concept that challenges the status quo. Developed by Simon Sinek in 2009, it has been used as a guide for anyone to vastly improve their life, leadership, corporate culture, hiring process, product development, sales, and marketing. It defines loyalty and dictates how to create enough momentum to turn an idea into a social movement.

As we face turmoil, many realise how strong tides and winds can quickly affect your life or your business. Nothing fun about it. What stands between these individuals or enterprises who still strive regardless of the conditions, and those who may not, is often linked to their capacities to move forward. It is this intrinsic motivation for the cause or the belief they stand for, that can make or break them.

Understanding your own purpose is an essential question to be addressed, and the sooner you do, the better. Unfortunately, most will choose not to, simply because it’s easier to follow others and the current trends. This compliant reactive posture often leads to having disappointing lives and/or failed businesses. 

So let’s address what we stand for together, so that you can unleash your true powers. This practice is effective, and it can transcend your life or business with increased meaning and authenticity to propel you forward and prepare you for the long run.

The Golden CircleImage source: smartinsights.com

If you look at the golden circle in more detail, you can see three circles:

- Why? – Describes the mission and core belief of a business, organisation, or of an individual. It’s why the business exists or your actual reason for being. An essential start when strategizing.

- How? – Illustrates the way in which your ‘WHY’ is most often achieved. It’s how the business or person fulfills their core belief. 

- What? – Describes the activities of the entity. It’s what the company or person does to fulfill their core belief. It’s an action, a belief, a product or service that you offer to others or to the market.

When you have determined your WHY and clearly defined your HOWs you may have an accompanying sense that you carry an important mission that is going to leave a positive impact on this world. This is often the most powerful feeling of being alive. All masterpieces that were created in this world began with a WHY, and so should your life. 

“ The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why. ” - Mark Twain

A strong life WHY helps you clarify your purpose out of life and helps you focus and push yourself. If you establish your life WHY correctly, it should serve you as a roadmap, helping you make your dreams and passions a reality. Your life’s WHY and HOWs are your best compass to help you live a full life.

However, having only a WHY isn’t enough. If your WHY isn’t powered with specific HOWs and WHATs, as well as a strong commitment to your strategy and tactics, then your WHY is merely an illusion. 

When you identify your big WHY, ask yourself, “Why would you fight for it? Why you? Why do you care? Why does it matter?” 

When these answers are clear, you have a powerful WHY and you become more passionate, more innovative, and more progressive in your marketing and communication. You have one more important reason for waking up in the morning.

The implications of defining The Golden Circle reach far beyond what one can imagine.

The Golden CircleImage source: stackpathdns.com

At a corporate level, think about the typical challenges that you often face ...

- Why can’t you sell more? Your product is good, your teams are motivated, and you know that people need what you propose.

- Why are your competitors, big and small, able to pull customers away from you?

- How can you inspire greater loyalty and engagement among your customers and employees?

- How can you achieve and sustain large amounts of success for years on end?

- How can you define an ideal and clear persona that can be used to reach your key target segments?

- Why is it so complex to formulate a clear consistent marketing strategy that sustainably addresses what you stand for, who you truly are and what you believe?

The Golden CircleImage source: zenogroup.com

Now let’s look at some of the benefits associated with having a clear Golden Circle ...

- When companies cannot articulate their WHY, the price, features, and quality of their product/service become the only forms of differentiation. Starting with your WHY can be a great way to justify a higher price point or overcome shortcomings.

- Your buyers know and believe in your mission. This helps create the framework for long-lasting and meaningful relationships that increase customer lifetime value.

- Purpose and values are easy to identify with and creates personal connections.

- Simplify your marketing copy and next time you're writing an email, a blog post, or a landing page, start your writing with WHY.

- A majority of B2B decisions are made before speaking with sales. As a result, it’s critical to position yourself to stand out in order to create sales opportunities.

- Start clearly defining your ideal customer profiles and personas. Then, create messages that specifically target those companies and roles. Finally, engage their teams across all channels - both online and offline.

- Millennials are quickly coming into positions where they will influence B2B buying decisions. Doing business with companies that share their values and beliefs matter most.

- Starting with WHY helps vendors establish trust and clearly differentiate the value in their offering. 

- Creating trust and starting with WHY can be cornerstones for B2B businesses in 2020 and beyond.

The WHY is the soul of any business or person. This is your purpose, your belief, the reason WHY you exist, WHY you’re doing what you’re doing now. Businesses and people need to understand WHY it is we do what we do.

With that understanding, you can tell a compelling story to your audience of prospects and clients that will help them be driven emotionally by your message, converting them into life-long customers.

The goal is not to sell to people who need what you have, the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe.

Let’s look at some examples from the business world to learn in detail why having a powerful WHY is so important.

For the past 6 years, everyday I drive my Ford Escape XL 1987. Why is it that I drive a Ford you might ask? Simple, Ford's slogan "Go further". They challenge their statement by building bad-ass vehicles. Vehicles that push the limits for your miles per gallon. They expertly produce the build of their product from years and years of testing. And are able to handle any on and off road experiences.

The Golden CircleImage source: ford.com.au

Ford’s Why, How and What are:

Why: We inspire people to “Go Further”

How: We use and develop cutting edge technologies

What: We build vehicles that suit your needs and driving desires

As a result, Ford has some of the most robust and best selling cars and trucks out there. The company inspired leadership demonstrates their WHY in everything they do. Employees, clients, and partners embrace it, it is exemplified within everything the company does both externally and internally.

WHY is a belief, HOW is the action you take to realize that belief and WHAT is the result of those actions. Of course for the golden circles to work, you have to be consistent in what you say and do.

Are you consistent in what you say and what you do?

Let’s also look at Airbnb as an example. By creating an online platform where travellers can rent a spare room from an Airbnb host, it allows people to interact in a way they previously couldn’t. People can rent anything from a couch to a castle in 8000 cities around the world, and while you’re staying in someone else’s home, you are essentially immersed in the local life.

The Golden CircleImage source: thinkdigital.travel

Airbnb’s Why, How and What are:

Why: Because travelling can and should be so much more than just staying at a hotel.

How: Create an environment where guests can immerse themselves within a culture and connect with local people of various backgrounds during their travels.

What: Provides a platform for individuals to rent out their lodging for travellers to stay. 

Do you see now why knowing your Golden Circle can make such a difference? 

On an individual level, let us consider the inspiring case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for whom music was everything. His WHY could have been phrased as, “To compose outstanding classical music so that it can transcend the test of time”. He also knew HOW he wanted his own music to be composed and played: It had to be for an orchestra, preferably in an opera, a symphony or a concerto. Centuries later, his legacy remains. 

There are few Mozarts, but we all have an intrinsic purpose to serve, something we are born with, our mission is to find it.

People that inspire, leaders, and companies of all sizes think, act, and communicate from the inside out. Companies as large as Apple and Google apply these principles in every aspect of their business. Smaller companies like mine or yours should also be using these principles in everything that we do and this is where I can help you find it. We as individuals should all strive towards a life that is meaningful and full of purpose. 

Those interested can contact me at patrick@innovo.vn.
Together, we can clarify The Golden Circle that applies to you and/or your company.

Banner Image source: anandaindia.org


Singapore-Vietnam Factsheet: The Lion Meets the Dragon

By: Keely Burkey

Diplomatic Ties: 45 years in 2018

Major Companies: Sembcorp, CapitaLand, Mapletree, Keppel Land

Overview:

One of Vietnam’s strongest diplomatic ties is with the powerhouse city-state, a relationship that comes primarily in the form of a robust business relationship. Singapore’s FDI in Vietnam is third overall, just behind Korea and Japan, though in the first months of 2017 Singapore briefly held the top position. In 2017, FDI increased 12 percent, with US$1.85 billion; it’s also Vietnam’s sixth-largest trading partner. Most of the investments focus on HCMC, thanks to the current real estate boom—799 projects, valued at US$9.75 billion, were reported in 2016.

Major Industries of Influence:

Real Estate: Look at the skyline and you’ll see the investments at work. The proof is in the numbers: Keppel Land has 20 licensed projects across Vietnam with 25,000 homes being constructed; CapitaLand has recently acquired land banks in District 4, a move in tandem with its 20 percent stake in Thien Duc Trading Construction; Mapletree acquired Kumho Asiana Plaza for US$215 million in June, 2016; and most recently, Lion City has jumped into the game as well, investing US$1.85 billion in commercial properties. Residential developments have been the main priorities for Singaporean real estate companies, though that hasn’t stopped CapitaLand from investing in commercial lands as well.

singapore vietnamImage source: blog.mogi.vn

Manufacturing Development: We’re not talking about manufacturing specific products: we’re talking about manufacturing the manufacturing plants themselves. The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP), a joint-venture between Sembcorp Development and Vietnamese-owned Becamex IDC, are the jewel in the crown of cooperation between the two countries, a statement fully supported by the numbers. In an email correspondence with Tran Thi Quynh Thanh, Senior Marcom Officer for VSIP, Thanh said the infrastructural offerings have helped to attract more FDI into the country while providing employment opportunities. VSIP have generated US$10 billion in investment from 738 multinational companies in 30 nations, though 11 percent of the companies in the industrial parks come from Singapore. At the moment there are seven different projects around Vietnam, and in 2017 they received an investment certificate for VSIP III in Binh Duong, totalling 1,000 hectares.

singapore vietnamImage source: datdautu.com

Healthcare: Although it’s not leading the pack in terms of money invested, Singaporean interests in healthcare have ramped up in the past years. In January, 2017 the Singapore Medical Group signed to create a second Careplus Clinic Vietnam in HCMC, to go along with the first clinic established in Tan Binh District. Chandler Investor, Clermont Group and Parkway all have presences in the country and have been investing in existing Vietnamese hospitals. Perhaps most visibly, Hanh Phuc Hospital, since its opening in 2011, has been touted as “the first Singapore-standard hospital in Vietnam” thanks to its hospital management agreement with Thomson Medical Centre Limited. As Vietnamese regulations continue to improve, investment in this sector is likely to grow. Michael Sieberg, Project Director of Solidiance Vietnam, said, “There’s a lot of interest to play a part in private-public partnerships [in healthcare], but I think the framework is still being worked out. Right now it’s mostly local investors.”

Social Issues:

While business ties are the bedrock of the relationship, cooperation has taken social forms as well. The Singapore-Vietnam Strategic Partnership was solidified in 2013, in honour of the two countries’ 40 year diplomatic anniversary. Cooperation has strengthened in areas like armies, counter-terrorism efforts, piracy, human trafficking and money laundering. Unfortunately, we could find no updates documenting concrete results of this partnership.

Banner Image source: media.baodautu.vn


Creating a Company in Vietnam

By: Keely Burkey and Jonas van Binsberg

What brought you to Vietnam?

I consider myself a product of the time and the places I grew up in. Born and raised in the Netherlands, graduated and started visiting Southeast Asia just before the financial crisis, in 2006. When the investment bank I was working for in the Netherlands started to run into difficulties at the end of 2007 and in 2008, I had heard of this large Vietnamese company that received support and relationships from international banks such as HSBC and Deutsche Bank. The owner and founder became known to me through the parents of my ex-girlfriend who was living in Australia at the time. We got introduced to each other, and he offered me a job. After that, I joined the export team of a multinational Dutch company responsible for the sales and trade of raw materials and ingredients of several countries in Southeast Asia. About 10 months into the job, this company also started to reorganise. I decided to stay in Vietnam because I was just engaged to my fiancee and strongly felt my time in Vietnam was not finished yet.

What is important when doing business in Vietnam? How does it differ from your experiences in Europe?

First of all, to pay attention to the people, to the relationships. In Germany, in Switzerland we would give a powerpoint presentation with four or five reasons why they should buy our product. Here, it’s all about who you are, where you are from, your family background, and then after that maybe the business things. Here the relationship comes before the transaction.

entrepreneurshipImage source: dbav.org.vn

Do you feel that foreign businesspeople are at a disadvantage here because they don’t share the same culture?

Well, language is one thing. The system is another thing. So, you have a slight disadvantage if you don’t know the language, but you can bring in good local people to work with you. You can have translators, you can have assistants. If you’re looking at the system, I think it’s getting a lot better. Where you might think people would be disadvantaged as a foreigner, Vietnam has already done all the reforms.

In the past few years a number of large international chains have entered Vietnam’s marketplace. Do you think these will hinder local growth, or create unreasonable competition for local companies?

I think local businesses still have a unique chance. They can get local support and they can also develop well because they are local. The local consumer is also buying local, I think. You see that more and more. You see a lot of people are very open to trying new things. You see a new restaurant to try. But I think in the long term, people will be more conscious about buying local products, and the government has already campaigned for a while now about Vietnamese people building local brands and things like that.

What are some of the biggest challenges you've encountered since doing business in Vietnam? What advice would you give people to avoid these obstacles?

In terms of life and investment advice, I would say: know your priorities and know your limits. Time is probably our most valuable asset. How we spend our time can say a lot about us. In the past, I often thought in terms of sacrifice. Sacrifice time for business, sacrifice money and give priority to the happiness of the family or the wife. But this is not right thinking. Right living is a life which is in balance. We intentionally choose to spend time with our loved ones; and we cultivate relationships, healthy habits, healthy living. Our priorities become visible through our daily choices. And what we can do should be within our limits. Unrealistic expectations or behaviour and risk which is beyond limits is dangerous and not a sustainable way of living and working.

What is Saigon Startups? Why did you create this company? 

I have noticed from my own experience, and from my friends here that we, start-up companies, small and medium-sized companies, all need the same things: product development, design, sales and marketing, bookkeeping and other services. The idea of Saigon Startups is sharing of resources, knowledge, experiences between entrepreneurs and companies. The idea is that, things that I have overcome already, or that I know already, can help you to grow your business faster. Saigon Startups is going to be a network of small and medium-sized companies, some invested by myself, some invested through friends or through fund investors. Together sharing information and targeting the same things: sustainable growth, good business, stability, health, wealth, happiness and profit in Vietnam.

entrepreneurshipImage source: media.baodautu.vn

Right now HCMC is seeing a surge in start-ups. Do you think these companies will create competition that will ultimately hinder expansion? Or is there enough room in the market for everyone?

It is a normal part of market growth, company growth and country development. Competition enhances performance and productivity. One thing that I would like to share is that each person and each business is unique. We do not have to copy or emulate one another. We have to find the one thing that ‘only I can do’, the one ‘calling’ that life has for us, our ‘passion’. Once we find that, there is no competition. There is only ‘doing what you love’ and other people sharing the same mission.

What sorts of start-ups are you seeing being developed at the moment? Which start-ups tend to be successful in Vietnam's business environment?

A lot of people are focused on technology start-ups. My personal interest is still mostly old-fashioned business such as manufacturing of agricultural products, healthcare products, things like that, but then combining it with and/or applying the modern tools available such as online marketing, online shopping or mobile phone apps. I think a lot of different types of start-ups can be successful in Vietnam. The key issues which I think are important are: long-term commitment of the team, financial pressure, great innovation... In my opinion, often things go wrong here when people change. No money or borrowed money, try for three to six months but then give up. An entrepreneur needs to have to ability to create, to have a dream, to create a vision, to create a product. If finance, commitment and creation skills are lacking, it’s going to be much harder for a start-up business to be successful.

entrepreneurshipImage source: wellesley.edu

Banner Image source: knowstartup.com


Dream Jobs in Vietnam

By: Frank B. Edwards

Southeast Asia: The Land of Employee Turnover

Paul Espinas sells dreams – dreams of better jobs – and he’s very good at it.

The 28-year-old marketing director of VietnamWorks oversees the employment company’s campaigns to find experienced workers to fill the empty desks of Hanoi’s and HCMC’s office towers with administrators, managers, technicians, sales teams and a variety of specialists.

Every day the VietnamWorks website – known in the recruiting business as a job portal – introduces hundreds of employers to tens of thousands of workers wanting a better job and more money.

Like most Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam has an annual 20 plus percent employee turnover, a frustrating reality for employers who must continually recruit new workers. (The largest job-search surge occurs right after the Tet employee-bonus season.) That reality has spelled success for a wave of job sites in Vietnam including Jobstreet, Careerbuilder, HR Vietnam, Careerlink and VIPsearch.

Turnover

At its busiest, the VietnamWorks website receives up to six million visits a month – and adds several dozen new job postings each day. In mid-January, the job portal listed 6,000 jobs, half of them in HCMC, with salaries ranging from $500 to $4,000 per month. The site requires job seekers to have a minimum of two years’ work experience. Currently, the company has a database of three million jobseekers.

Paul explains that Vietnam’s hot economy is just one reason for the frenzied employment scene. While employment companies certainly profit from high employee turnover in the short term (they charge employers a fee to post their job listings), he cautions that the Vietnamese workplace needs to improve its accommodation of young millennials (born after 1980) who make up the largest workforce demographic.

“Employers have to keep their employees engaged,” Paul says. “Management styles have to adapt because often the expectations of young workers aren’t being met.”

Money is usually a key consideration, but is not always the most important.

Ways to Grow

Several blocks away from the VietnamWorks headquarters, Jon Whitehead sits in a high-rise tower matching managers and executives with corporate employers. Having worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Vietnam, the newly appointed managing director of RGF Executive Search (formerly of HR giant Robert Walker) is familiar with hot job markets and has seen managers jump ship for increases as little as $100 per month.

While well-qualified workers can win increases of 20 to 25 percent, he advises his job candidates to be careful about quitting jobs too often.

“People here… will move for money. So you have to educate them that too much movement doesn’t show growth and doesn’t show consistency.”

He notes that the supply of Vietnamese managers has grown significantly in recent years but still can’t keep up with the demand. When new manufacturing and IT companies come here, “they want a staff right away but it takes a while to produce one”.

“Vietnam is a young country, it’s a young population here,” he observes. “They do want to learn. They are hard-working, but it comes down to education. Too often, they don’t know what is required of them. [Working for foreign corporations,] the demands are higher and expectations are higher.”

Viet Keu

Often, he says, applicants prefer to report to an expat manager in the belief that they can learn from and develop marketable skills more quickly with a mentor who has international work experience. The smart ones look for jobs with scope to grow so that they can move within a corporation without having to quit and find new employment to advance their careers.

An increasingly important source of Vietnamese management talent is coming from abroad – both from the Viet Kieu population of overseas Vietnamese who left the country after 1975 and recent university graduates who studied internationally and chose not to return to Vietnam immediately.

Jon has seen more of those graduates – many with advanced degrees – returning to the country after they’ve gained some Western work experience. “They come back with a different mindset,” he says, pointing to their experience with domestic consumer

traits and exposure to multinational corporate culture. But he cautions employers that they are not willing to work for “Vietnamese wages”:

“They want to be paid at the same level as expats.”

Meanwhile, Viet Kieu millennials are also finding their way home, often against the will of their parents who have established comfortable lives and successful family businesses.

One such recent arrival is a young digital marketer who grew up in Ottawa, Canada, studied international commerce and then headed east, finally arriving in HCMC last autumn after several years working in Singapore.

At a recent social event, he moved easily through the crowd of young Vietnamese advertising executives (and hopefuls), speaking English effortlessly and offering energetic insights into the world of corporate communications. While he’s determined to be at the forefront of the new IT economy here, he admits that his parents are worried. “This is not the Vietnam they knew,” he says.

While recent university graduates and overseas arrivals are adding to the employee base, the biggest source of talent right now remains within the existing workforce, and that’s where the big HR companies are searching.

RGF Executive Search deals with positions paying $1,500 a month up to the stratospheric salaries of CEOs rising beyond $25,000 a month. (RGF charges employers a finder’s fee that is up to 25 percent of an annual salary.) These days most of the jobs at the lower end of that scale go to Vietnamese; the mid-scale positions are split between expats and Vietnamese while upper executive jobs still favour expats with international experience.

Ready for a Globalised Market Economy?

As employee recruitment continues to get more competitive, companies are becoming more creative. At VietnamWorks, Paul has organised job fairs to bring employers and job seekers together. His Boulevard For Success job fairs bring out thousands of Hanoi and Saigon workers interested in talking to HR personnel from a range of companies. He has a technology job fair and a mobile app in the planning stages.

A shortage of IT professionals is particularly worrying for Paul, whose research suggests that Vietnam will need 400,000 new IT workers by 2020. Even now, he says there is a problem because current IT professionals lack the communication and soft skills (like creativity, problem solving and collaboration) that are important components of the international workplace.

It sector Vietnam

Over the past three years, VietnamWorks has seen the biggest job growth in finance, IT and advertising – the latter two have doubled and tripled the number of jobs on offer. Ironically, 40 percent of its job seekers are pursuing careers in other fields. Accounting, administrative office jobs and manufacturing/production are the most sought-after career fields right now.

In a 2014 report called Skilling up Vietnam, the World Bank noted that the country’s 95 percent literacy rate was just the first step to preparing workers for a modern market economy. It claimed that 80 percent of technical and professional job applicants lacked the skills necessary to fulfil the jobs they were applying for – and that white collar workers lacked both technical expertise as well as leadership, creative, problem-solving and communication skills.

Jon Whitehouse, a Brit, and Paul Espinas, a Filipino, remain optimistic about the road ahead. Both arrived in Vietnam by circuitous career routes and both have declared their intention to stay.

Jon explains that for expat executives, Vietnam is a career stepping stone and the typical stay here is three years. But some fall in love with the place and have trouble leaving. He’s been here for five years and Paul has seven years under his belt; they have no intention of leaving any time soon.

 


Networking: Your Guide to Business Networking In Vietnam

By: Victor Burrill

Networking defined

Cultivating deep connections with the people you want to collaborate with

The secret to keeping your connections alive

Professional relationships are at the heart of every successful business networking can branch out to many opportunities if you are able to build a genuine connection with the right people. The question is, how do you get from where you are now to a well connected businessman? Find out how you can effectively build your own network to pursue your goals, keep those connections alive, and get help from the right people.

Let’s Get Started - What Is Networking? 

Networking is simply the process of interactions for establishing, building and maintaining relationships for personal and business purposes.

Networking will help you develop and improve your skill set, stay on top of the latest trends in your industry, keep a pulse on the job market, meet prospective mentors, partners and clients, and gain access to the necessary resources that will foster your personal growth and support your career and business development.

Keep in mind that networking doesn't begin or end at an event such as at a chamber of commerce or professional association. Networking can be done anywhere: at a bookstore, over lunch or during a conference. It can continue long after the initial contact was made, and in the best cases, it will branch out into other opportunities to grow your professional community. 

 Business Networking In VietnamImage source: vietcham.org.sg

Before you get out there for some live, face-to-face interaction, it's a good idea to get into the right mindset. One way is by developing an elevator pitch: a short description of what you do, who you work with and the value you offer to your customers or clients. The goal is to be able to deliver this ‘pitch’ in 60 seconds or less, in a conversational way.

Professional relationship development expert, Keith Ferrazzi, recommends creating a relationship action plan for every professional goal that you have. Make a list of people who can be instrumental in helping you achieve a goal, even individuals you don’t know but do admire, and reach out to them. Ferrazzi also suggests writing down why each person is important, and how you would categorise the strength of your relationship on a scale of zero to five. This will help you develop a strategy to pursue your goals—and home in on getting help from the right people.

Connection Is Essential In Vietnam

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou, Poet

Before you go out armed with business cards and an elevator pitch, be careful not to mistake networking for a face-to-face cold-calling opportunity. You are more likely to be successful if the people you want to influence know you, like you, respect you and trust you. An immediate sales pitch will not build that type of relationship. 

Successful networking aims for quality connections, not quantity. Instead of casting a wide net, direct it toward cultivating deep personal connections with the people you actually want to collaborate with. Figure out what you and the other person have in common—whether you went to the same school or love the same sports.

 Business Networking In VietnamImage source: chamberforge.com

It’s also helpful to know what others are truly interested in, from charities they support to any awards they’ve received. This shows your sincere interest in the other person as an individual, and also helps you understand how you can be of service. If you can offer something specifically geared to what’s important to them, they’ll be more open to connecting with you.

Always be real, humble and vulnerable. I’m the Chairman and Chief Connecting Officer of the Business Executive Network in Vietnam. We have a membership of CEOs, Country Managers or Senior Directors. It is not easy to impress these people with professional accomplishments. Instead, I recommend keeping it real and genuine, being ‘open’ and authentic, I even recommend ‘boasting’ about your weaknesses; this draws people to you quicker and wins sincere admiration and trust. 

Put Others’ Needs Ahead Of Your Own

“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person's needs ahead of their own.” - Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver

One of the biggest networking mistakes people make is asking for too much too soon. One cardinal key of successful networking is ‘Give before you can get’. 

I can’t emphasise this enough: if you want to form a relationship with another person, you first need to show them how they’ll benefit, says Keith Ferrazzi. 

 Business Networking In VietnamImage source: southerncharmgiftbaskets.net

As it is when you bring a small gift to a dinner party, it is a good idea to offer a potential partner a token of generosity. The gesture can be as simple as forwarding a relevant article or providing an introduction to someone who can further the person's own interests. It’s helpful to think of networking like a bank account: you have to make deposits before making a withdrawal.

Value The Strength Of Diversity 

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't.” - Bill Nye

We tend to hang out with people similar to ourselves. But leveraging on a diverse group of skills, knowledge and personalities is key to professional networking.

Seek relationships with totally different people who can introduce you to brand-new social clusters. Not only will you gain access to potentially influential individuals whom you’d otherwise might never meet, but it will help you stand out from the pack.

Someone I know became a member of an organisation of women business owners. They allow men to join, so he asked a female friend to sponsor him at a meeting. Everyone remembered him because he was one of two or three guys there and ended up getting a lot of business out of it.

 Business Networking In VietnamImage source: irishtimes.com

One way to diversify is to ‘network down’. Most people concentrate on ‘networking up’, building a rapport with someone higher than yourself on the corporate ladder. But it’s also smart to connect with savvy junior people in your industry because they might end up being portals of intel.

Keep Your Vietnam Connections Alive

“Great ideas often come from small talks around a drink” - unknown

After making new connections, too many people fail to maintain or leverage this new relationship. It’s most effective to send a friendly, sincere email to your new contacts as soon after meeting them as possible, noting some things that were discussed when you met.

In order to maintain or build on your relationships you should ‘connect’ on a regular basis. I suggest scheduling some time aside each day to these important relationships. The frequency and depth of your interactions depends on the strength of the relationship. For casual connections, the occasional retweet or Facebook comment might suffice. For deeper ones, think along the lines of a thoughtful email or meetup over a drink.

Finally, good luck and remember that it's not about who you know, it's about who knows you.

Banner Image source: wallstreetenglish.edu.vn


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