Is your degree worth as much as your connections?

Posted on 18 May 2011

Besides earning that degree, make sure you take advantage of alumni networks and other similar events.

By Subhas Avadiar

CONTINUING Education is a never-ending quest for improvement-seeking Singaporeans. Which is why we are constantly being pressured to pursue tertiary education to keep up with others. While getting a degree is important, is it really more important than putting in the energy to cultivate a strong network of contacts?

Here’s a story about my friend: While he was in his second year of his three year programme in university, he asked me if I knew someone in the banking industry that would be a good contact for him. Two years on, he holds a good position in a reputable bank.

The truly wonderful twist is that he did not graduate with a particularly good degree but edged out his peers with better results to land the coveted position.

So how did he do it? Bottom line, he did it with a strong recommendation from that very same contact I gave him. He was proactive in seeking connections. He knew that he had to leverage himself against his peers. He had to possess something his peers lacked: Considerable social capital.

Building a vast yet deep network takes a whole lot of energy and time but Rome was not built in a day. Start by exposing yourself to people who could help you one way or another in furthering your career objectives.

The simplest way is to participate in alumni networks. They are there for a reason, so tap on it. Another avenue is networking events organised by the Chambers of Commerce which is well attended by established business owners. These business owners traditionally carry with them a strong network, which is essential to their goals.

Always have this question at the back of your mind – “Why would people want to help me?” Be proactive in asking for help, but be ready to return the favour. Even as an undergraduate, you have the ability to play with the big boys – the experienced business people. Trust me, they are more than willing to lend you their support only if you are humble and ready to ask.

Possessing a first class degree could eventually lose out to having a strong network that will carry you where you want to go. You are the main protagonist in your career story and you can draft a fairy tale ending by starting to cultivate a strong network of connections.


Subhas Avadiar is the founder of Business Referral Organisation(BRO). BRO is Singapore’s most exclusive business networking platform. We create the opportunity and provide the tools for SMEs and professionals to cultivate business partnerships which are strategic and high value in nature.

This post was written by:

- who has written 230 posts on New Nation.

Contact the author