The Power of Networking by Kingsley Aikins

Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

I very recently got accepted into a mentorship programme in my college, run by the Trinity Student Managed Fund. The program offers the opportunity to connect with a mentor in the applicant’s industry of interest. And throughout the program, skills such as how to network, excel in interviews, polish CVs and set targetable goals will also be taught.

All in all, I’m really looking forward to it! The first session was on the power of networking and how to network, which was taught by Kingsley Aikins, the CEO of The Networking Institute. I just want to use this post to write down some of the cool and valuable information I learnt from that session, and share it with you guys🫠

  • While the concept of ‘networking’ sounds grubby and even quite deceitful to many, it is an important factor in determining your future success, happiness and longevity.
  • The three components of success can be determined through the PIE model. The first component, Performance, only accounts for 10% of success (surprising, right?). The second component, Image, accounts for 30% of what determines success. This means how other people perceive and think of you. If others have a fairly good image of you, success will most likely follow. Finally, the most important factor that Aikins says determines 60% of your success, is Exposure. Because when it comes to those big, closed-door board talks or fundraising talks, you’re going to need someone in there to have your back. Exposure means how much you’ve opened and connected yourself to others ,it is essentially the reach and power of your network. Fascinating, right?
  • Okay, but as a student, how can I even provide any value to anyone? Surely I don’t bring anything to the table, so why would anyone want to network with me anyway? Turns out, students actually have a lot of advantages at their disposal. The key things you need to do to be truly brilliant is to listen intently and ask good, hard questions. Keep your mentors on your feet, and be sincerely open and ready to learn.
  • These insights were more niche ones, but they had to do with sales and negotiations. There’s a very intriguing saying in the world of deal-making which states that “Whichever side speaks first after the deal is made, loses”. He told us an anecdote which directly relates to this saying, where one day he had requested a whopping £5 millions pounds of funds from a good friend of his (he was fundraising at the time). What followed was a torturous, awkward, hard silence in which both sides knew of the saying and were waiting it out until the other spoke. Eventually, his friend gave in and spoke first, and it was through this deal that he secured £3 million pounds of investment, or something roughly like that.
  • Some more direct tips to network more effectively include:

    -At events, act like a host and introduce people. It’s easy to not make an effort and do nothing, but it’s best to try be a connector at events and think who might be interested in who.

    -Give the power of attention. Kind of circling back to ‘listen intently’, but our natural tendency is to interrupt others and input our own opinions. No one is interested. The greatest gift you can give to someone is the gift of focussed attention. Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. From the writings of Nancy Kline’s ‘Time to Think’.

    -80% of success in networking comes not from meeting new people but from maintaining contact with your existing network. This isn’t to mean you shouldn’t go out and still try build weak connections (you can still access diverse people with diverse networks this way), but, and I quote directly from Aikins himself “We live in a world where it is not what you know or who you know but how well you know who you know“.

This was overall a really enjoyable event, and I look forward to applying some of these tips in the future, especially when it becomes time to meet my mentor!
Hope you guys found these insights interesting too, thanks again for reading and stay safe

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