The Value of Networking

– and how to be good at it!

We had a fascinating discussion with Kingsley Aikins, Chief Executive of The Networking Institute at our recent virtual members’ meeting on the importance of networking and how this has been affected by the lockdown.

Kingsley Aikins

Some of the many key points were:

  • Downtime presented by Covid-19 is an opportunity to audit your network. “When business is down that’s when you paint the shop”. Key questions to ask are: Is my network good enough for where I want to be in 5 years’ time? Where are the gaps? Who have I let slip? Can I segment my connections into contacts (lowest level), connections (we both know each other), relationships and friends?
  • Life is a game of inches – the margin between success and failure is so tight. In a very competitive world, you need every advantage you can get and having a strong and diverse network can make all the difference. Your network can help ‘tip’ a deal in your direction. It can be the nudge factor in a very competitive world where very often decisions can be 50/50.
  • Contrary to what many people think, networking is all about giving not getting.
  • Decide what you want to be known for. Do you want to decide it or allow others to do so? Be in the driving seat by investing time in your network.
  • Make serendipity happen in a methodical and systematic way by your choices, behaviour and attitude.
  • You need mentors and sponsors i.e. people who will speak to you and people who will speak about you.
  • The number one key to being a successful networker is to be a world class listener – nobody can resist the power of rapt attention. Don’t be a narcissistic listener. Ask Who, What, Where, When, Why, How.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of decency, honesty and integrity. Introverts are often the best networkers because they tend to be authentic.
  • Every week you have 5 opportunities to network – breakfast, lunch, dinner – a cup of coffee during the day or a drink after work. If you just take two of these opportunities a week it amounts to 100 a year and begins to build up.
  • Replace cold calls with hot coffees.

View Kingsley’s 50 Networking tips in 50 days.