The recent ARUPS (ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies) conference in Singapore was a great success; providing a forum for delegates to think about the unique challenges faced by psychologists working in this part of the world. As a delegate (photo above) I was intrigued to see the opportunities for our regional societies to collectively develop in much the same way as other geographical bodies such as EFPA (European Federation of Psychological Associations). The workshop on the therapeutic applications of virtual reality was not to be missed!

Being part of the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) is one of the highlights of working in Singapore. Discussing lessons I have learnt as a member of the New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPS), and the New Zealand registration framework governed by the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, as well as contribute to professional development in Singapore, is an opportunity I relish. The SPS (and other local professional networks like the Community of Organisational Psychologists in Singapore (COPS)) provide a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, share stories and receive professional support.

While SPS provides this opportunity as psychologist, the Australian Institute of Directors provides similar opportunities on a business front. As a Director of companies in 3 geographical regions, the updates through the Company Director magazine, published by the Institute, are always relevant and helpful. The events organised by the Institute are invariably valuable.

What the Aussies can do, however, the Kiwis will do better! The New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (NZCC) is a home-away-from home for Kiwis in Singapore. The regular monthly drinks and the business forums are superb for catching up with other New Zealanders and hearing from great speakers. As mentioned to me by the New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Singapore, the NZCC is the first stop for any Kiwi business person after immigration.

Then there is BNI, the local business networking group. This is one of the best grass root organisations for getting connected in Singapore. As an expat, BNI is one of the fastest ways to become integrated with local businesses. Moreover, BNI provides a weekly entrepreneurial boost from other business people looking to grow their business.

These groups provide both opportunities for professional development, networking, as well as rewarding social events. Networking is a great example of work-life integration. For this reason those who are often passionate about their profession and their business are also passionate about networking.

Unfortunately many people equate networking with social media and in doing so miss the real opportunities offered by participating in professional groups and societies. People also tend to associate networking solely with sales, which is equally a shame, as networks offer so much more than a forum to sell. The irony is that the sales that occur through networking come from building trusted relationships, not networking per se.

So if you are serious about your profession and not afraid of work-life integration, I strongly encourage you to consider joining professional and business groups. While LinkedIn and other online forums have their place, nothing beats the benefits of in-person networking for building strong professional relationships. You owe it to yourself, your profession and your clients.