As part of the MBA personal and professional development programme, we recently had the privilege of learning about the essentials of networking from Kingsley Aikins and Ed Kelly of Networking Matters. Kingsley is a former President and CEO of the Worldwide Ireland Funds and during his tenure cultivated an international network that raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cultural, community and educational projects across Ireland.
Through their four-step method, and highlighting some fascinating examples, Kingsley and Ed described how networking is a continuous process of research, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. The concept of cultivating relationships certainly raised a few eyebrows in the room, but through learning from real-life examples of patient persistence and attentive mutual respect, the rewards of such techniques became increasingly obvious.
Undoubtedly, the most challenging aspect of networking then becomes the “ask”. It is also the most important. Whether it is asking for a further contact, reference, advice or even donation, learning how to do this successfully from Kinglsey and Ed was invaluable. In closing this uniquely beneficial session, the importance of maintaining and evolving existing relationships through real and regular contact was summed up brilliantly; “A bad day on the road beats a good day in the office.” To a current MBA student however, they both sound considerably better than a long day in the library!
– David Pierce