Gone are the days of “a job for life” or the “one-company individual”. Statistics show that the average person changes jobs 11 times in the United Kingdom. In the United States, a person will change roles, on average, 10.8 times between the ages of 18 and 42 years, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

Globally and in Singapore, average job tenure is shrinking. According to DBM, a human resource consulting firm which surveys professionals in transition each year, recent results of a career choices and transition survey shows a reduction in tenure duration within an organisation from seven to six years.

In Singapore, specifically, a study by Khatri, Budhwar & Cheong across the industry verticals Food and Beverage, Marine and Shipping, and Retail finds average job tenure at 6.4 years.

Despite the growth in print and online job advertising, networking is by far the most effective way to land a new position. Every year for the last five years in Singapore, DBM research has consistently shown that networking is the source of 60 per cent of all new jobs.

Networking should not be done only when you are seeking to make a move. Building and expanding your network should be a constant element and activity throughout your career.

Here are a few tips for successful networking:

* Think long-term. Networking is not a process of asking for a job or passing around your resumé. It is about relationship building, information sharing, letting people know who you are and what you are working on and making long-term career connections.

* Do your homework. Get to know your network contacts, their companies and their industries. Try to maintain a 90/10 ratio of research to actual contact time. That is, for every 10 minutes spent with a contact, try to support that with up to 90 minutes of research on the contact and his or her company and industry. It will help you take charge and be a value-added contributor to the conversation.

* Consider your personal network. Think of all the people you come into contact with on a regular basis, from your family members to your doctor. These relationships are invaluable door openers to expanding your industry network.

* Join professional and trade associations. Become an active member. Membership and active involvement in an association’s activities can open the door to new job opportunities as well as keep you abreast of industry trends and developments.

* Join chambers of commerce. Those such as BritCham or AmCham, and professional organisations such as ICPAS (for CPAs) or SHRI (for HR professionals), offer many opportunities to network and meet people in various industries through monthly meetings, informal dinners and business seminars.

* Keep on learning. Consider taking management and executive development courses to enhance your career development and network.

* Market yourself. Promote and publicise your achievements within the company. As Singapore is host to many multinational companies with regional and global operations, it gives employees the opportunity to excel. By promoting your achievements in high-profile and successful projects in Singapore, you will open up opportunities for possible overseas postings or lateral movement within the company or even a promotion.

* Update your address book regularly. In this age of constant job churn, it pays to make a social call or to send a short e-mail, every now and then, to a select number of people who may be able to give you referrals or job leads.

* Use direct marketing to your advantage. With some creativity and thorough research, you can put direct marketing to good use by targeting companies or industries you want to get into. Depending on the nature of your target company, explore different ways of catching their attention and don’t limit yourself to the traditional letter of application.

* Create a web presence. Use social networking tools for professionals such as LinkedIn. This not only allows you to find and connect with current and previous colleagues, it gives you the space to share your career history, progression and achievements while expanding your network by connecting to others of interest through your connections.

Generally, people like to help others. By networking, you are giving your friends, colleagues and associates the chance to assist with your next career step if they can. Whether you are looking for a job, considering self-employment or keeping your options open, networking is a lifelong skill that will help you at any stage of your career development.

Use a variety of forums, maintain consistency, create a presence within your firm and your industry and when the time arises, you should have no trouble calling on your networks to assist you in your next career endeavour.