The importance of LGBT networking
Written by Philip Howell-Williams on July 16, 2015.
Having spent many years working in Asia in an industry that demands business development as a core fundamental, the ability to network has been a vital skill I have had to learn to further my career. Networking events perform different functions for different people - some people use them to make business contacts, others to make good friends, and still others as a way to get to know a place they have recently moved to. All these are valid reasons for networking and prove that these events have an important role to play.
Networking events come in many shapes and sizes from those run by the Chamber of Commerce to industry-specific private events. Others appeal to and are run by specific groups within society. Once such example is Fruits in Suits, a networking opportunity for professional people from the LGBT community, organised by the Pink Alliance.
I first came across Fruits in Suits (FinS) shortly after arriving in Hong Kong when I knew nobody outside of the work environment and felt a little daunted at the prospect of finding new friends and beginning a new life. It was recommended to me as ‘a good place to start’ and I never looked back.
The relaxed environment is extremely welcoming and attracts a wide range of people from different backgrounds and businesses. The monthly events immediately became a regular feature of my social life and through them I have made close friends, met good quality business associates and become involved in many excellent projects that aim to improve equality in Hong Kong.
FinS has been lovingly cherished and managed by wonderful volunteers for well over a decade. These individuals have injected their energy and passion to make a difference to the LGBT community. In spite of the fact that the event is an important crutch to this community and very dear to people’s hearts, a short while ago the future of FinS was looking a little doubtful.
Having heard many people make comments along the lines of ‘This was the first event in Hong Kong that I was able to really relax and be myself.’, I was convinced that this should not be an event that is left to die. Consequently, I am very proud to have taken over the mantel of running Fruits in Suits, under the umbrella of the Pink Alliance.
Everything changes and evolves and FinS will have to do that too. In recent years many other LGBT social event groups have sprung up in Hong Kong, each and every one of them doing great work, but FinS still remains a unique business networking opportunity where individuals can connect with prospects and provides a vital platform for businesses and other social groups to promote themselves. Debates and fundraising events organised by FinS underpin the very core of the LGBT community in Hong Kong.
Social media has changed the way LGBT groups and events are organised with events being posted and reposted on as many sites as possible to get as many likes as possible. Is all this social media activity justified by the value which is added by these LGBT networking events? In my opinion the answer is yes. If a group such as FinS can create an environment where even one single person can relax, enjoy themselves and get involved in the essence of networking when they would not otherwise be able to do so, then yes, it does add value.
There are many social groups available for the LGBT community here in Hong Kong and it is important that we work together to support each other. If you would like to know more about events that are happening in FinS then please visit our website or check out our Facebook page.