“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work.” Robert Kiyosaki
We’ve all been there – sipping a drink at a networking event, trying not to make eye-contact when a vaguely familiar face lights up with recognition. The person approaches; you smile – unsure whether you actually know them. You extend your arm to shake hands but they embrace you in a hug. They know your name, where you work, that you went skiing last December, and even what breed of dog you have. They’ve completely won you over in an instant because they’ve inspired a shared connection.
Some people are naturally better at networking than others. I’ve met socialisers who go so far as to take a picture of interesting individuals they meet and jot down notes about them. But for many, networking inspires a squirming wincing reaction, like when you have to flick away a monstrous insect that’s just plummeted onto your shoulder.
Networking often feels like this because it occurs in artificial environments. The strange corporate mating dance usually takes place at obligatory cocktail events – and if you’re not armed with a business card you feel trapped in a conversational cul-de-sac.
This is true for some of the world’s most powerful companies. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, met at Stanford’s PhD programme and worked together on a research project on the World Wide Web. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, met at a campus gym and discovered a shared passion for food. Together they took a correspondence course in ice-cream making. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, founders of Instagram, were also Stanford colleagues who shared a love of old Polaroid photos.
Sometimes it’s just about the simple joy of enjoying a coffee together in the canteen. Or relishing an intellectual joust with somebody who has an alternative world view. It’s helping a colleague solve a difficult problem, or coming up with a new business idea. Sometimes, it’s just about having a buddy to ask for help!
Online learning is a great equaliser. It enables people from all over the world to access the same level of education. It means more flexibility, affordability and time to spend on hobbies. But what about balancing these benefits with making alliances in the classroom?
At LCIBS we know the value of REAL networking. We facilitate the forging of life-long alliances that boost careers. That’s why we offer a blended learning model, merging the ease of online with the opportunity to make connections in world-class, technologically advanced facilities. Having students in the classroom leads to engagement and idea generation. It’s an opportunity for them to motivate and inspire each other, and have their philosophies challenged by our renowned lecturers. A blended online learning platform means students can use technology to continue fostering new relationships and share knowledge and ideas, often across borders.
A student once said to me, “Building relationships with my peers keeps me engaged and motivated. Relationships are an important support system and having people who can relate to my experiences.”
I advise anyone interested in executive education to nurture their connections. Whether it’s in the classroom or in an online discussion forum.
Author: Brett Kilpatrick