What is networking? "Networking is about giving, not taking," says Kingsley Aikins
Research shows that trust is at its lowest level today. This makes networking and building strong relationships even more important. Always keeping in mind that networking is about giving without expecting something in return.
“We live and work in an economy where people have no or little trust. Especially when it comes to trust in public institutions and private companies. Building strong relations to i.e. customers and business partners is therefore crucial if you want loyalty and trust in return. This is no different when working in B2B exports,” says Kingsley Aikins, CEO of the Networking institute and professional networker.
Trust is key
According to Kingsley Aikins, rule number one in business is that people do business with people they like and trust. Build trust among your customers and you will have a great competitive advantage.
“Life is a game of inches – the difference between winning and losing is tiny. Facts and emotions are important in business – often emotions win, so you need to have good relations. Here networking is the difference maker,” explains Kingsley Aikins and elaborates:
“For example, when entering a new market, you need connections and people that will give you referrals, because new clients will rely on what others have to say about you and your company. Here existing clients, local networks or institutions like the chamber of commerce, local trade counsels etc. can help you out.”
Be a good listener
When networking, put your own needs aside and listen to understand how you can help someone with their challenge or problem.
“Listen when others talk and listen to understand and learn – not to know what to say next or how to respond. Networking is about giving and supporting others with knowledge and connections,” says Kingsley Aikins and adds:
“Introvert people are actually some of the best networkers, because they are good listeners. Extrovert people on the other hand are often not paying attention as others talk, because they are listening all while thinking of what they want to say next.”
Networking is not...
Relationships are important and often new relations and opportunities are created by random chance. But how do you create this chance and make luck happen to you?
“Luck doesn’t happen sitting at your desk. It happens when you move, when you break your routines and put yourself and your company out there,” says Kingsley Aikins and gives an example:
“Make sure to attend the right events and conferences where you can meet the right people. And do it with a strategy in mind. Who is coming to the conference and who do you want to meet? One introduction can change your life. This is what serendipity and random chance is all about.”
About Kingsley AikinsKingsley Aikins, an Economics and Politics graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, has lived and worked in six countries in a career in trade and investment, philanthropy, education, diaspora and tourism and has worked for major organizations, governments and countries. Throughout his extensive experience he has come to appreciate the power of networking and he sees it as the ‘glue’ that makes everything happen.
Spend time with people that are different
If you want to evolve, seek out people who are different from you and avoid living in an ‘echo chamber’. And make sure that your company reflects the diversity of the economy and society in which it operates, otherwise it will underperform.
“On average 95 percent of our conversations are with people we know. But very often you learn nothing new from people that you already know. Innovation comes from diversity,” says Kingsley Aikins. He explains:
“Spend more time with people that you don’t know, look to develop relationships with people that have different views and opinions than you, and you will learn something new.”