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The Runaway MBA: This city is so small you can see everyone in your sector just by sitting in the same cafe every day

Welcome to the second installment of our new blog from "The Runaway MBA", an American financial professional who's looking for work in Hong Kong and Singapore. If you haven't read her first blog click here.

Even before my arrival in Singapore, I started to sense that my sector of financial services would be small. As I continued to add contacts on LinkedIn, I saw that everyone was connected to each other.

An endless list of emails and personal introductions from people in the Americas led to a packed first week of meetings. I added more than a dozen addresses to my outlook and budgeted for time between encounters.

But I soon discovered that they were all centered around Raffles Place. Most of the meetings occurred outside of the office, and I soon sampled many Americanos at Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and the occasional boutique cafe.

By Thursday I had determined that Starbucks was a less than ideal place to meet unless you were a tourist lost after visiting Clark Quay. Black cafe nestled inside the Chevron Building was dramatically less formal, but the coffee and ambiance was the best in the city.

It was in the 6 Battery Road building, however, where I discovered the true size of this city state. When several people that I had met earlier that morning seated themselves next to me in the lobby cafe, I realised that Singapore is not small in my industry. It is tiny.

Stay put and make contacts

The cafe isn't just in a building with a high concentration of companies from my sector; it is at the perfect intersection between several key places in the city, has a professional atmosphere, and (most importantly) is off the tourist walk.

As I meet people in Singapore I want explain myself in the best light possible, get to know who I'm meeting, and further my insight into his or her business. I am seeking to understand the marketplace and hope to come away with a perspective on trends in the economy. Because the community here is small, these trends and insight are tremendously valuable.

It is very important to treat each interaction with care as I build my local network. More importantly, the ambiance in which I am networking serves as a conduit to improving the chances of a more productive interaction. By productive, I define my ultimate goal as a referral, introduction, or recommendation.

I think that in Singapore the heat and abundance of tunnels in the city centre, makes casual run-in encounters on the street less likely than in New York. However, remaining stationary in a popular meet-and-greet place (like this cafe) has increased the probability of more interaction with the people I have met over the last few weeks.

If the secret to developing a relationship is in the number and quality of interactions, why not increase the probability of this happening by positioning yourself in the best location possible?

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