Kingsley Aikins, guest presenter at the Mid-West Chambers’ networking evening (7th right) with (from left): Chris Adams, Adams Business Consulting; Helen Brown, University of Limerick; Padraic McElwee, LEO Clare (sponsor); Fiona Connolly, Lyons of Limerick (sponsor); James Ring, CEO, Limerick Chamber; Helen Downes, CEO, Helen Chamber; William Cahir, President, Ennis Chamber; Mary Considine, Shannon Airport (sponsor); and Helen O’Donnell, Lady Captain, Shannon Golf Club. Photo: Eamon Ward.
Having raised over a quarter of a billion dollars in twelve countries as CEO of a major international non-profit organisation, it’s an understatement to say that Kingsley Aikins knows how to network successfully; it’s in his DNA. This was immediately evident when he took to the stage at the Mid-West Chambers’ recent networking event in Bunratty, where he captivated his audience of over 150 business executives, members of Ennis, Limerick and Shannon Chambers, when he delivered a masterclass on how to become a good networker.
“Be hi tough as much as hi tech,” he urged his avid listeners, adding that while technology has its place, the benefits of turning off our devices and getting up to walk around are more critical now than ever before.
“Success in the past is no grounds for success in the future,” he said adding that as there is no coffee station on the web and, as business does not walk in but has to be found, the best way to win new contracts is to build social capital between you and other people. Companies are not hiring the smarter people; they are looking for people with broader skills including people who can get referral business.
Sharing his vast well of knowledge Aikins gave some very useful insights on how to network: print off your database of contacts; segment it in four ways: by contact, connection, relationship and friend and then look for gaps, find the gems and take action; think about building relationships, not transactions; talk to strangers; find out information and commonality; be a fantastic listener and be genuinely interested in other people; be humble about what you do and; put your network at the disposal of other people as if you give in a consistent way, it comes back.
“Everyone can access formal knowledge but informal knowledge, which helps a person make good decisions, can only be found through networking and remember, luck happens when you’re in motion,” advised Aikins.
Commenting on another successful collaborative networking undertaking, the Chamber CEOs said: “The format of this annual event, which includes promotional stands, has proven to be a great success. To have as experienced a networker as Kingsley Aikins give a masterclass this year was a tremendous boost and everyone went away with a determination to put his advice into practice. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, Local Enterprise Office Clare, Lyons of Limerick and Shannon Airport for making this event possible. A lot of new connections were made on the night and the event will deliver beneficial new business for many of our members.”