The Power of Networking

Three Business Blog Team
On: 23 Oct 2015
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As the Pendulum Summit Powered by Three fast approaches, MC for this event Kingsley Aikins talks about the Power of Networking.

I’m thrilled to get the nod from Frankie Sheahan for the third time in three years to be MC for next January’s Pendulum Summit. I’m a Leinster fan and Frankie is a fanatic Munster player and supporter so this is taking sporting ecumenism to unprecedented levels! Good on ya, Frankie. Maybe it is the feel good factor enveloping Irish rugby right now.

I am particularly delighted this time because of the first Irish appearance of Tony Robbins, who can only be described as a force of nature. Anyone lucky enough to attend his 5-Hour Masterclass will never forget it. There is also a very good chance it will change their lives for the better, such is the impact of this phenomenal speaker.

The Pendulum Summit has quickly established itself as a ‘must attend’ event, coming as it does early in the New Year – when we are all reflecting on how we are going to change in the year ahead. I have always enjoyed the event, not just for that reason but also because of the great networking opportunities it provides. I have always been a fan of networking and believe it is now more critically relevant than ever. Yet here is what is curious and a paradox: schools and colleges don’t teach networking and companies don’t have strategies for networking, though everyone agrees it is crucially important.

Networking is important quite simply because the world has changed dramatically and is more competitive than ever. Life is a game of inches (just look at the rugby results) and networking can be the ‘nudge factor’ that gives you an advantage. Success in the past is no guarantee of success in the future and the strategies that got us to where we are today will not get us to where we want to go in the future. As famed US management consultant Peter Drucker said: “to create the future you have to be the enemy of today”. To stand still is to fall behind. So networking becomes a key differentiator in a world where it is not what you know or even who you know but who knows you. In this world of connected clusters of creative people, one simply can’t go it alone. You have to network your way to success. Opportunities don’t float around on clouds, they are attached to people. And the skills and qualifications needed to get your job in the first place become less important as you progress up the corporate ladder and relationships become more important.

All the research shows that people who have strong and diverse networks are more successful in business, are stronger mentally and physically, live longer and are happier. Networking allows you to escape your silo. Your network becomes a portable, personal asset that belongs to you and goes with you. Companies now want to ‘hire and wire’ – hire talented staff and wire into their networks. So now networks are critical to getting your next job! Great networkers understand this and know the way to new people and information is through people that they do know. They don’t keep score and they believe in the power of referrals. They are also fans of technology and, at the same time, know that they must be hi-tech and hi-touch.

The challenge then is to build Social Capital, which is made of the resources available to you in your personal and business networks. But it also requires changing your attitude to relationship driven rather than transaction driven; learning new skills such as becoming world class listeners and understanding the notion of ‘funnels of serendipity’, which is about making random chance happen in a non-random way. In other words, changing your behaviour so that there is a greater chance of luck happening.

The final piece of the networking jigsaw is to follow a 4-step process of Research, Cultivation, Solicitation and Stewardship. Bring all these elements together and networking excellence follows. This is what I teach, nationally and internationally, with my company Diaspora Matters. And this is what we will see when we welcome Tony Robbins on his maiden visit to Ireland.

About the Author

Kingsley Aikins, who was born and raised in Dublin, has travelled the world and has lived and worked in Australia and the US. Mr. Aikins is Founder and CEO of Diaspora Matters, a consultancy on all issues to do with Diaspora. He is also Chairman of Linked Finance, Ireland’s first crowd funding company aimed at small-medium enterprise, and is Co-Founder of Networking Matters which helps institutions and individuals develop strategies for networking and building long term sustainable relationships.