Networking in Indonesia – Creating Business Contacts

Regardless of your industry, you are going to have to find useful contacts in Indonesia if you are to do ANY business here. This is the only time we have capitalized a word in this blog, just so you know. That is to stress that even though Indonesia is run on a rigorous bureaucracy you […]

Networking in Indonesia

Regardless of your industry, you are going to have to find useful contacts in Indonesia if you are to do ANY business here. This is the only time we have capitalized a word in this blog, just so you know. That is to stress that even though Indonesia is run on a rigorous bureaucracy you still need to know people and pay the right people to get things done.

The fastest and most productive way to go about doing this is to join an organization or two that either unite people from certain nations or regions, or deal with certain industries. But there are other ways to ease your transition into this new country. Some of the networking can even be done without leaving your computer.

Table of contents

    How to do it wrong

    The problem today is that there is simply too much information. The multitude of online sources is huge and offline there seem to be networking events that might potentially help your business grow at every step. Your time, however, is limited. We realize this.

    Trying to take part of every potential network can most likely leave you exhausted and, worse, without any results to show for all that work. Try to first have an overview of what people are engaged in what groups and only then choose the right ones for you.

    Emerhub has interviewed many CEOs and owners of foreign businesses in Indonesia. Each of them has a different yet useful perspective on how networking in Indonesia should be done and what networking groups are most useful.

    The most obvious theme throughout the interviews we’ve done with executives here in Indonesia is that having a good network is no replacement for knowing the local language and culture. It is as simple as that. You can surround yourself with your countrymen outside or within your industry but a really useful network can only be created if Indonesians are involved.

    Having said that, connections with local business circles are still best established with the help of your national or industry ‘clubs’. Our point is to keep in mind establishment of good relationships with locals when attending events and communicating with people within these associations.

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    The ‘right’ way to go about it

    Now that heading is a bit too much. Naturally, there actually is no single right way of networking in Indonesia. But there are some basics you want to cover.

    Having all your eggs in the same basket is a situation you will want to avoid and if you, being a German for example, think you will only need to go to EKONID and you will surely find the connection you need – think again.

    So here are 4 points you want to think about, and possibly act on, when networking in Indonesia:

    #1 Chambers of commerce and business associations

    • Many countries have a chamber of commerce in Indonesia exactly for the purpose of easing the transition their citizens’ businesses might encounter when entering Indonesia. They usually do not provide services but can most likely help you with valuable advice. Non-members are welcome at most events but at a slightly higher cost.EuroCham, AmCham and BritCham seem to be the most active chambers in Indonesia right now. We have compiled a short bio of these chambers.EuroCham Indonesia logo

      EuroCham – The European Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia

      Number of members

      The Euro Business Directory lists over 700 companies. These include members of EuroCham.

      Main events and activities

      EuroCham organises more than 70 meetings and events per year.

      • Working group meetings
      • Regulatory briefings
      • Business luncheons
      • Round tables with Government
      • Position paper drafting sessions

      EuroCham also organises a number of social events including a Golf Tournament, Gala Dinner and Netoworking Cocktails.

      Membership fee

      Membership fees start from 6.500.000 IDR for companies that want representation in Indonesia.

      Benefits of being a member

      • Copies of EuroCham publications
      • Access to inside information and timely updates through working groups and reports
      • Preferential pricing for members on advertising and sponsorship campaigns
      • EuroCham shares information about and invitations to a range of external events
      • EuroCham members are in many cases offered favorable prices or free passes for participation in external events that have been negotiated with the organizers

      BritCham Indonesia logo

      BritCham – The British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia

      Number of members

      At the moment, BritCham has 250 corporate members with more than 800 nominees based in Indonesia, plus overseas membership.

      Main events and activities

      • Business luncheons
      • Panel discussions
      • Seminars
      • Community days

      Benefits of being a member

      Members get access to not only networking opportunities with a number of events held monthly but they can also participate in a range of Sector / Issues Groups having a specific focus on your company’s field of business activity.

      BritCham also sends members invitations to regular briefings at which speakers address subjects of current interest to the business community.

      Membership fee

      Membership starts from 6.000.000 IDR for new members in the Overseas Headstart Programme.

      AmCham Indonesia Logo

      AmCham – American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia

      Number of members

      AmCham Indonesia has hundreds of members representing more than 250 companies.

      Main events and activities

      • Monthly Networking Cocktails
      • Committee Meetings
      • Annual Kalkun Thanksgiving Day Golf Tournament
      • Special Programs with Executives and visiting dignitaries
      • Business Workshops

      Benefits of being a member

      • Eligibility for committees
      • Meetings with government officials and policy-makers
      • Complimentary publications from AmCham
      • Professional and social networking events
      • Access to creating exposure for your firm through the Chamber

      Membership fee

      Company representatives pay an annual fee of 8.800.000 IDR. There are however lower prices for individual members.

      Other Chambers

      Naturally, there are a number of other chambers and due to the more specific regional contacts they have, you are likely to find them even more useful:

      AustraliaAustCham – Australian Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia
      CanadaICCC – Indonesia Canada Chamber of Commerce
      ChinaChina Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia
      FinlandFinnish Business Council
      FranceIFCCI – Indonesian French Chamber of Commerce & Industry
      GermanyEKONID – German Indonesian Chamber of Commerce & Industry
      IndiaIndCham – India Indonesia Chamber of Commerce
      India Indonesia Business Association
      ItalyIBAI – Italian Business Association Indonesia
      JapanJETRO – Japan External Trade Organization
      KoreaKOTRA – Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency
      NetherlandsINA – Indonesian-Netherlands Association
      NorwayINBC – Indonesian Norway Business Council
      PolandPolish Business Club in Jakarta
      SingaporeBISA – Business Indonesia Singapore Association
      IBC – Indonesian Business Centre (Singapore)
      SingCham – Singapore Chamber of Commerce Indonesia

    If there is any group that we recommend you join, it is a chamber of commerce. Mainly because these organizations – in most cases – have decades of experience and existing networks that are currently expanding with the local economy.

    Emerhub will be glad to hear stories or suggestions on what other organizations and chambers of commerce have been useful to our readers. If you have suggestions, write them in the comments and we will be sure to include them.

    #2 Local associations and events in your area

    If you are not currently in Indonesia but are looking at starting a business here it makes sense to prevent making extra costs and just take part in events in your country or area.

    There are simply too many events on doing business in Indonesia scattered all over the world to make a compact list here. Turning to your local embassy will probably give you some dates. Going to these events might prove to be the best starting point to get contacts but also to demystify Indonesia for you.

    #3 Online networking in Indonesia

    There are several good networks that you can tap into online. It will in no way replace you coming over and seeing people face-to-face, but it does provide a good way to ease the process.

    LinkedIn

    LinkedIn is a great medium for connecting to potential partners, major customers and getting general know-how about local conditions. Many groups that sound promising have actually become platforms for spamming and there is little to no information in them. Yet there are some promising connections to be made on LinkedIn given that you’ve worked on your account. Without a trustworthy personal account you will not be trustworthy in the eyes of your hopeful partners.

    Using key words to do with your industry you will find groups similar to these examples:

    Indonesia Business Network
    Expat Network Indonesia: Moving to, Working in, Living in Indonesia
    Indonesia Oil and Gas
    Coal & mined minerals from Indonesia
    INDONESIA – Import, Export, Trading
    South East Asia Security Network

    MeetUp

    Younger generation in Indonesia (both expats and locals) arrange semi-formal meetings through a site called MeetUp. By ‘younger generation’ we mean people who are generally computer literate and are part of the new generation of business people. This is in no way a warning for more experienced business men and women to stay away. Rather the opposite – you could be valuable additions!

    Do not be hesitant to join one of these meetings as it provides an excellent chance to get some locals into your network.

    Online networking in Indonesia

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    #4 Find old relationships

    Surprisingly, people who do business here often overlook this. Don’t forget that this is a huge country and due to new opportunities there are many foreigners coming here. Have a look over your old contacts – maybe someone is here.

    They might not be in your industry, they probably do not own a business here, they might have been here for a couple of months; but old relationships can provide useful contacts and have a level of trust already in place. In networks, there is little else as valuable.

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