NUMEROUS surveys on career choices and transition shows that job tenure is shrinking.

In Singapore and around the world, average job tenure has been reduced from seven to six years according to global human capital management consulting firm DBM, which surveys professionals in transition each year.

Statistics now show that employees will find themselves in the midst of a job change at least eight times in this lifetime.

What will make this inevitable event a success depends on the depth and breadth of your personal network.

Besides tapping opportunities from print and online job advertising, networking is a very 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.

It is always the right time to build networks - whether you are looking for a job or you are gainfully employed.

In the hurried pace of life in Singapore, it can be easy to neglect or avoid networking but it is vital to your long-term career success. The current gloomy economic outlook should make networking one of your top priorities.

Here are a few tips for a successful networking:

* Networking is not a process of asking for a job or passing around your resum. It is about relationship building, information sharing and making long-term career connections.

* Do your homework and 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 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 associations and become an active member. Membership and active involvement in an association's activities can alert you to new job opportunities.

* Join the chambers of commerce such as BritCham or AmCham, and professional organisations such as ICPAS (for certified public accountants) or SHRI (for HR professionals). They 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.

* Promote and publicise your achievement within the company. As Singapore is host to many multinational companies with regional and global operations, it gives employees the opportunity to excel and be model employees to their overseas counterparts.

By promoting your achievement in high profile and successful projects in Singapore, you will open up opportunities for a possible overseas posting, 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. Direct marketing need not be limited to large companies bombarding consumers with flyers and product brochures.

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 do not limit yourself to the traditional letter of application.

Whether you are looking for a job, considering self-employment, or just keeping your options open, networking is a lifelong skill that will help you at any stage of your career development.

No matter which outlets you choose to tap, the key to success in networking is to stay active and keep your networks working for you!