“There is a need for a bridge between useful social and professional networking, and we appear to be serving some of the people who are seeking to make new connections” – John Murn
For All Hands Taiwan, this year has started promisingly: A series of events are planned to provide foreign job seekers with insights about Taiwan’s job landscape. The first two panel-style discussions took place at the Red Room space and welcomed more than 80 listeners coming from various working backgrounds. As Taiwan’s foreign community expands, the requests regarding the working environment arises – and All Hands follows their demands to respond and spark the debate about what, where and how to realize their professional needs.
You will never know who you will shake hands with – and how this will influence your life
Moving to Taiwan 11 years ago, John Murn worked as an English teacher who then transitioned to a marketing professional. Given the gaps in Taiwan’s foreign employment infrastructure, John has dedicated his volunteer work to establish a platform to provide better resources and networking opportunities for foreigners in Taiwan. His founding partner Daniel Miller has experienced the working life in both China and Taiwan. Among other things, Daniel’s work at All Hands aims to support skilled international youth in Taiwan. He sees a great mutual benefit in networking young international talents with Taiwan’s hiring community, which is still far away from exploiting its potential in business relations.
How to put yourself in the right spot and maximize your potential of being hired as a foreign professional?
“The best guidance I can offer to a job seeker is to network prolifically, and if you do that long enough and widely enough, then the help you need will begin to come to you – just don’t expect immediate returns”
The first panel talk “Love Your Next Job” was all about the importance of networking and outreaching. Settling as a foreigner in Taiwan, your job opportunities often remain oblique and it is hard to tell if you are even eligible for that particular job for which you are indeed qualified. The lack of transparency in Taiwan’s hiring community challenges foreign professionals and at some point, you might ask yourself: Does it even help me to meet all the job requirements if I am not a native speaker or a local after all?
“Taiwan will not feed you a job, but it is willing to give you one, if you just try hard enough” – Daniel Miller.
You have to try in order to figure it out. One key message within the panel discussion was the call to be shameless while networking. Just try and shake hands with someone left or right, it might impact your carrier. Be brave, send your application for that one position although you might be turned down, and even if so – do not give up – learn by doing.
Besides not limiting yourself when it comes to self-promotion, reconnecting to your clients when you have already pursued a job is essential to be successful in the long run. All Hands puts a lot of emphasis on running that extra mile – getting to know your niche, keeping your customers updated. That particular additional insight you will receive possibly opens up new opportunities and enables you to adjust to sudden changes within your market.
“We aim to foster a positive environment in which people can come participate in and practice the kind of fruitful networking mentioned above” – – John Murn
With that said, All Hands did not intent to provide their listeners with a general recipe for success about how to build a lasting network, rather giving them a broader perspective of possibilities how to do so – each panel speaker shared an individual strategy of how to reach out, depending on the market and the profession.
Be your own boss: “Acknowledge your priorities and always stick to them” – Solene Cornilleau
Three foreign small business owners in Taiwan were engaged in the second panel starting the debate “How to be your own boss”. Setting up a business and running it takes a lot of courage and effort – most certainly even more, if you are a foreigner in Taiwan. One thing is for sure, each business division comes with its own individual challenges to face. Whether it is about legal issues or internal business relations, reaching out to people who have done it before will once again save you time and effort. By planning your project step by step, you will be less intimidated by any kind of barriers and encouraged to take your business to the next level.
“20% of your customers are making most of your revenue. Know their needs well” – Jun Lee
It is not about being an expert within your business segment, but you should always be up to date and well informed about your niche.
How high is the demand? Who are the people who work with you or buy from you? Who is your competition?
Knowing your numbers such as how much you are able to burn but also how much revenue you are expecting will keep your business on track and prepare yourself for possible inconsistencies on the long run. Even if there are internal disagreements while figuring out the direction of your business, sometimes it is smarter to let the numbers speak for itself.
Be your own Boss – but don’t forget to be your own employer, too
A profound topic that has come up multiple times during the debate is the fact that being your own boss comes together with treating yourself as an employee in order to succeed. Having the freedom to choose the directions your business is following means you have to drown yourself into the whole work complex. Having knowledge about all your departments and the different jobs will equip you with negotiation skills and empathy for your workers when they are facing frustrations. “Be your own boss doesn’t imply that you are the one boss, rather, you are the one who knows your business the best by learning”, is Jun Lee’s personal take home message from All Hands second panel discussion.