The 1% Podcast

Kingsley Aikins

  • 01

    Kingsley Aikins

    The Art of Networking Lincoln Recruitment Specialists

My guest today is Kingsley Aikins. 

Kingsley is the CEO of The Networking Institute, a consultancy company that specialises in training in the areas of trade promotion, philanthropy, and diaspora engagement.

Prior to founding the Networking Institute, Kingsley held a variety of roles including Chief Executive of the Worldwide Ireland Funds and Founder and CEO of Diaspora Matters.

Kingsley is an ardent believer in the power- both political and professional- of networking. He has spent his life striving to bring together people regardless of geographical location under the one umbrella of promoting Irish interests.

Kingsley firmly believes that life is a game of inches, so let’s hear what advice he can share that will help move us all just a little further along our respective journeys.




Show Summary


2:40 Kingsley’s early years

  • Early connections
  • His year off playing rugby in France
  • How French rugby is different from Irish rugby
  • The top players on his team

5:15 Moving to Sydney, Australia

  • Starting an Irish business network: The Lansdowne Road Club/Lansdowne Club
  • The importance of networking when moving to a new country
  • The Irish influence in Australia
  • “Kings in Grass Castles” by Mary Durack

9:10 Founding the Australia Ireland Funds and the Ireland Funds of New Zealand

  • Connecting with Tony O’Reilly, head of Heinz
  • Creating the conditions for “funnels of serendipity” through which random chance can change your life

11:30 How to make tall asks

  • “You just never know”: taking it one small step at a time
  • Remembering that every large organization started small

13:20 The American Ireland Fund

  • Taking inspiration from the UJA’s model
  • Tapping into Ireland’s global resource, their “diaspora capital”
  • Their projects: Offering support to Northern Ireland and establishing integrated schools
  • Collaborating with Chuck Feeney on sending Northern Irish leaders to meet Nelson Mandela in South Africa

18:47 Fundraising and philanthropy

  • Current donation tendencies at different income and age levels
  • The importance of building relationships with potential donors
  • Kingsley’s techniques when asking for money

25:52 The Irish diaspora

  • Why Ireland has invested so much in this area
  • Looking to the diaspora for help after the 2008 financial crisis
  • Ireland’s “soft” cultural power
  • How Ireland has become a leader in the diaspora space
  • Ireland’s connection to Africa

31:00 Emigration and immigration

  • Emigration caused by the 1846 famine
  • Why the strongest diasporas are victim diasporas
  • Making sure your networks reflect the diversity of the population
  • The negative connotations of the word “migration” and the positive ones of the word “diaspora”
  • Examples of large corporations founded by immigrants
  • The obstacles faced by Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai when going to study in the US
  • Kingsley’s work with the International Organization for Migration

36:52 FDI and the diaspora

  • The “nudge factors”: how small things can make a huge difference when it comes to FDI funding

39:00 Kingsley’s return to Ireland

  • Why he decided to come back

40:04 Networking

  • The Networking Institute and the Diaspora Institute
  • The negative associations we have with networking
  • Carla Harris’s advice on who you need to advance in your career: advisors, mentors, sponsors
  • The importance of having people who will defend you in your absence
  • Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed” by Harvey Coleman
  • Why how well you do your job only contributes 10% to your career progress, and exposure contributes 60%
  • How COVID will force people back into networking
  • Tom Peters and the idea of “Me, Inc.”
  • Taking responsibility for your own success and building your own personal brand

48:10 Exposure

  • Exposure considerations: How can I overdeliver? How can I make other people look good?
  • Becoming “known”
  • The importance of asking yourself: “What value can I add to other people?”

49:40 Mentorship

  • How to find and select a mentor
  • Kingsley’s younger “reverse” mentors

52:25 Building a network

  • Building a network with small steps taken over time
  • Suggestions for those who “hate networking”
  • Why introverts can be the best at networking
  • The power of good listening skills
  • “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
  • How technology reduces face-to-face interactions
  • “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle
  • The characteristics of good networkers
  • The lack of soft skills in new graduates
  • The Centre for Future-ready Graduates at the National University of Singapore
  • Building “social capital”
  • Networking within organizations
  • Companies who create alumni networks: the McKinsey example

1:02:25 Networking strategies

  • What Kingsley teaches and asks in his training sessions
  • Getting comfortable talking to strangers
  • “…and Death Came Third!” by Andy Lopata
  • In Ireland: “We’re great talkers and poor speakers”
  • The challenge of public speaking

1:07:25 Weak connections

  • The limitations of homophily (only spending time with people similar to us)
  • Why your next job will come from your weak connections
  • “Dunbar’s number”: the limited number of people we can have in our life
  • Gender differences in networking

1:10:20 Relational vs transactional mindset

  • Networking as an antidote to loneliness
  • The Kaizen philosophy
  • Examples of networking programs in various organizations and why networking should be integrated in the culture of a company
  • Examples of small gestures that bring small gains

1:16:49 Habits

  • Making networking part of your daily life
  • Kingsley’s daily swimming and walking routines

1:19:40 Stand-up comedy

  • Why humour is a great addition to public speaking