Kingsley Aikins is a man who knows how to network. He must do, having raised 250 million dollars for projects in Ireland when he was worldwide CEO of The Ireland Funds for 17 years. Now CEO of the Networking Institute, based in Dublin, he shared some great insights on the need for and benefits of networking when he addressed a Shannon Chamber Skillnet webinar last week.
With companies now seeking to hire networked people, his advice to attendees was to invest time in developing their networks and to aim to have a network of contacts that reflects the diversity of the economy.
“Your network is portable, it does not get out of date and it goes with you throughout your career. That’s why it’s important to work at networking” he stated.
Describing networking as a process, he encouraged attendees to look on it as a necessity and to invest time in making new connections, even in the current environment where many of these connections may be made online.
Having attended or delivered 67 webinars in 9 countries since the onset of the pandemic, Aikins has unearthed what he described as a ‘whole new tribe’, which would not have happened without COVID-19.
“Take the hi-tech, hi-tour approach and over time you will develop a new set of connections, which, in turn, will lead to new referrals,” he added.
“COVID is the elephant in the room. It has resulted is us all living in a world of turbulence but turbulence is followed by creativity, innovation and growth and that’s why making connections and networking remain important,”
Stating that career paths are so different today to what they were in the past when the horizontal world of teams and hierarchy reigned supreme, Aikins said that people today may move through 20 different jobs in their careers and that many of these jobs won’t be advertised but filled through connections to the right people with the right skills.
With research showing that people with strong networks live longer, earn more and are happy, Aikins also stated that companies should have strategies for networking.
Describing performance as the mandatory part of employment, which only accounts for 10% when measuring the value of an employee, and reputation and image accounting for 30%, he said that the exposure an employee can attain for self and the company is the critical 60% of the employee’s value.
“That’s why companies need to develop a network culture; it will enable them to hire highly connected people, he added.
Commenting on the value of a webinar of this nature, particularly in the times we now find ourselves in, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes stated: “The past six months have been difficult for many people, particularly those who are office based and now working from home. The networking they would normally do on a daily or weekly basis has been lost but we all have a basic desire for interpersonal connections. As we have learnt, this can continue but in a technology environment. We can still make connections, which may lead to new opportunities. Networking in any environment is an important part of living and working and we must continue to work on this, even while working alone in a home office environment.
“As Kinsley Aikins said, we should strive to make new connections every day,” added Ms Downes.