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EFB-KPMG 2020 Global Tax Monitor

Thursday, 03 December 2020

In this challenging year, KPMG have explored the situation of taxation on family businesses in 54 countries and territories in order to offer an


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Family Business Management Programme 2020

Wednesday, 04 March 2020

The Family Business National Centre of Excellence is inviting business founders, next generation managers and those with an interest in learning how


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Growing a family business - LEO Enterprise Week BOI Workbench Centre Fri 6th March 8am

Wednesday, 04 March 2020

Phil Cone of Acadeny Crests Ltd and Michael Finn NSG Ltd will be interviewed by JJ O'Connell of Family Business Ireland to discuss their growth


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5 Misconceptions About Networking
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 10:27


A good network keeps you informed. Teaches you new things. Makes you more innovative. Gives you a sounding board to flesh out your ideas. Helps you get things done when you’re in a hurry. And, much more (see my recent Lean In video on how networks augment your impact).

But, for every person who sees the value of maintaining a far-reaching and diverse set of professional connections, many more struggle to overcome innate resistance to, if not distaste for, networking. In my 20 years of teaching about how to build and use networks more effectively, I have found that the biggest barriers people typically face are not a matter of skill but mind-set.

Listening closely to my MBA students’ and executives’ recurrent dilemmas, I have concluded that any one or more of five basic misconceptions can keep people from reaping networking’s full benefits. Which of these are holding you back?



Misconception 1: Networking is mostly a waste of time.

 A lack of experience with networking can lead people to question whether it’s a valuable use of their time, especially when the relationships being developed are not immediately related to the task at hand. Joe, a Latin American executive in a large company striving to promote greater collaboration, for example, told me that every single co-worker who visits his country asks him to meet. Last year alone he had received close to 60 people, a heavy burden on top of the day job. Rightly, he wonders whether it’s the best use of his time.


But, just because networks can do all these things, it doesn’t mean that yours will. It all depends on what kind of network you have, and how you go about building it. Most people are not intentional when it comes to their networks. Like Joe, they respond to requests, and reach out to others only when they have specific needs. Reaching out to people that you have identified as strategically important to your agenda is more likely to pay off.



Misconception 2. People are either naturally gifted at networking or they are not, and it’s generally difficult to change that.

 Many people believe that networking comes easily for the extroverted and runs counter to a shy person’s intrinsic nature. If they see themselves as lacking that innate talent, they don’t invest because they don’t believe effort will get them very far.


Stanford psychologisCarol Dweck has shown that people’s basic beliefs about “nature versus nurture” when it comes to personal attributes like intelligence or leadership skill have important consequences for the amount of effort they will put into learning something that does not come naturally to them. People with “fixed” theories believe that capacities are essentially inborn; people with growth mind-sets believe they can be developed over time.


As shown in a forthcoming academic paper by Kuwabara, Hildebrand, and Zou, if you believe that networking is a skill you can develop you are more likely to be motivated to improve it, work at it harder at it, and get better returns for your networking than someone with a fixed mind-set.



Misconception 3: Relationships should form naturally. 

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about networking is that relationships should form and grow spontaneously, among people who naturally like each other. Working at it strategically and methodically, they believe, is instrumental, somehow even unethical.


The problem with this way of thinking is that it produces networks that are neither useful to you nor useful to your contacts because they are too homogenous. Decades of research in social psychology shows that left to our own devices we form and maintain relationships with people just like us and with people who are convenient to get to know to because we bump into them often (and if we bump into them often they are more likely to be like us).


These “narcissistic and lazy” networks can never give us the breadth and diversity of inputs we need to understand the world around us, to make good decisions and to get people who are different from us on board with our ideas. That’s why we should develop our professional networks deliberately, as part of an intentional and concerted effort to identify and cultivate relationships with relevant parties.



Misconception 4. Networks are inherently self-serving or selfish. 

Many people who fail to engage in networking justify their choice as a matter of personal values. They find networking “insincere” or “manipulative” — a way of obtaining unfair advantage, and therefore, a violation of the principle of meritocracy. Others, however, see networking in terms of reciprocity and giving back as much as one gets.



One study discovered that views about the ethics of networking tend to split by level. While junior professionals were prone to feeling “dirty” about the instrumental networking they knew they had to do to advance their careers, their seniors did not feel the slightest bit conflicted about it because they believed they had something of comparable value to offer.


The difference came down to confidence or doubt about the worth of their contributions, with junior professionals feeling more like supplicants than parties to equitable exchange. My own research suggests that the only way to conceive of networking in nobler, more appealing ways is to do it, and experience for oneself its value, not only for you but for your team and organization.



Misconception 5: Our strong ties are the most valuable.

 Another misconception that gets in the way of building a more useful network is the intuitive idea that our most important relationships in our network are our strong ties — close, high trust relationships with people who know us well, our inner circle. While these are indeed important, we tend to underestimate the importance of our “weak ties” — our relationships with people we don’t know well yet or we don’t see very often—the outer circle of our network.


The problem with our trusted advisers and circle of usual suspects is not that they don’t want to help. It’s that they are likely to have the same information and perspective that we do. Lots of research shows that innovation and strategic insight flow through these weaker ties that add connectivity to our networks by allowing us to reach out to people we don’t currently know through the people we do. That’s how we learn new things and access far flung information and resources.


One of the biggest complaints that the executives I teach have about their current networks is that they are more an accident of the past than a source of support for the future. Weak ties, the people on the periphery of our current networks, those we don’t know very well yet, hold the key to our network’s evolution.


Our mind-sets about networking affect the time and effort we put into it, and ultimately, the return we get on our investment. Why widen your circle of acquaintances speculatively, when there is hardly enough time for the real work? If you think you’re never going to be good at it? Or, that it is in the end, a little sleazy, at best political?


Mind-sets can change and do but only with direct experience. The only way you will come to understand that networking is one of the most important resources for your job and career is try it, and discover the value for yourself.





What is Family Business Law?
Monday, 09 May 2016 09:55

Family business law is not a substantive specialty like mergers and acquisitions, securities laws, trusts and estates or federal tax. In fact, a good family business lawyer will probably identify first and foremost as a practitioner in a substantive specialty like one of those, rather than as a family business lawyer.



Family business law is also not a body of law built around an industry the same way bodies of law have developed around fisheries, restaurants, telecommunications and other specialized industries – although family businesses participate in (and make up large percentages of) nearly every industry.



Family business law is the practice of business law, whether through corporate, securities, regulatory, estate planning or other substantive areas, with a unique sensitivity to the challenges, goals and values common to most or all family businesses, and absent in most other businesses. A family business has different constituents than just shareholders – it has mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children and, hopefully, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even when profitable, it is not successful unless it is transmitting the values of the family behind it and preserving its legacy for the generations to come.



Family business lawyers must excel in their substantive field of practice. But they must also go further. They must understand the family dynamics behind the businesses they are representing. They must appreciate the core values that the first generation wanted to preserve and that the current generation wants to maintain. They must understand the importance of community in any family enterprise, appreciating that family businesses are the bedrock of community and local philanthropy. Finally, just as their clients, they must always be thinking about the future of the business.



In ordinary businesses, people retire, new people are hired, existing shareholders sell and new owners take over. This is the natural cycle we can rely on if a company is financially successful. In a family business, though, this is not what success looks like. The older generations work hard, not just for financial achievements, but also to see the business they've built carry on in the hands of their children and grandchildren. Family business lawyers work to ensure their family businesses clients can achieve those goals.



Celebrating 100 Years And Still Going
Thursday, 05 May 2016 15:25

Great story on a business that is still here today.


Rosie Kennar, fourth generation Chairman of Hoburne Holiday Park Group on the family business entered a centenary year and is still going strong.


Rosie Kennar is the fourth generation Chairman of the Dorset-based Hoburne Holiday Park Group. She took over the role from her father when he reached the age of 70 in 2002. She is the first woman to hold this position, and, 14 years on, she is relishing her position with the company 



"My father is a hugely respected and highly successful businessman, and 10 years ago, the idea of filling his big shoes was an intimidating one. However, the company was fit and strong, and as I had had the privilege of working in the marketing department for the previous 10 years and had also sat on the Board for several years too, I had got to know the business really well and had, I believe, earned respect in my own right. Therefore, when the time came for me to take the Chair, I had the unconditional support of our extraordinary management and staff – many of whom I have known for most of my life. With this vital support, we have been able to build on our success together, and I am immensely proud that Hoburne is in such great shape as we have reached our 100th birthday."



The policy that this family-owned business has adopted over the years has been one of continual investment to provide impressive facilities, accommodation and service for families and couples at the seven popular holiday parks in the south and south-west of England.


"In the current economic climate, families appear to be increasingly looking for holidays they can trust to give them great quality and value. Many are looking to relive the simple family breaks they remember from their childhood – time spent together with a bucket and spade on the beach, or picnicking in the countryside – and our aim is to provide a great base from which to do just that, along with good quality leisure and entertainment facilities for when they want them."


Hoburne has seen holiday booking figures increasing year-on-year since 2008, and was named the KPMG Company of the Year in the 2011 Dorset Business Awards in November.


"What a fantastic start to our centenary year! I was so proud to collect our Award in front of around 600 local business colleagues. The Award went to the company that demonstrated all-round business excellence, and we were competing against all other business types, not just tourism-based ones, so it is a great accolade to our extraordinary Hoburne team."


At the core of the Hoburne brand are values such as integrity, value and warmth, and Rosie and her senior management team work tirelessly to ensure these values come through in all they do. Rosie is also an enthusiastic promoter of the caravan industry and believes it to be a great British success story; one of which Britain should be proud.


"Britain can boast some really beautiful parks in breathtaking locations, and manufacturers offer a vast range of models from budget to state-of-the-art. We are incorporating increasingly stylish design and technology into our top-of-the-range models, and we are always delighted by newcomers to our parks who are almost shocked by the high standards they find."


The Hoburne Holiday Parks story began on May 7 1912, when Rosie's great-grandfather John Burry, a tenant farmer, purchased 'Hubborn Farm' in Christchurch.


Eight years on in 1920, he bought nearby Naish Farm – 100 acres on the cliff top at Barton on Sea, with stunning views across the Solent. In such a fabulous location, it is perhaps not surprising that one by one people applied for permission to put up temporary holiday homes, including disused railway carriages and old buses, around the edge of the fields.


By the time he died in 1947, there were some 400 holiday homes at Naish, and with following generations purchasing more Parks and investing heavily in them, the rest, as they say, is history.


"Hoburne has always been part of my life. My earliest memories of the Parks are walking through a field of kale opposing Hoburne Park at Christchurch, and of Mr. Punch the carthorse, who lived and worked at Naish. My first work experience in the 1960s was picking up litter and working in the coffee shop at Bashley in the New Forest. I'm not quite sure how I escaped the toilet cleaning duties that fell to my sisters!"


Today, where old railway carriages once stood, there are now spacious timber lodges and stylish caravans, and this year sees the first luxury lodges with first floor sun decks being constructed at Hoburne Naish.


"What a long way we have come in 100 years – who knows what the next 100 years will bring!






Succession planning among business owners’ top concerns
Thursday, 05 May 2016 09:55

Deciding on a succession plan often falls down the list of things to do in busy growing businesses, but new research suggests it is causing headaches among business owners.

The Close Brothers Asset Management survey revealed that issues around succession planning make up four of the top ten worries keeping family business owners awake at night.

Unsurprisingly, maintaining profitability was top of directors' concerns, but that was followed closely by management succession planning.

The top ten concerns also featured issues including:


(4) planning for later life (pensions, IHT, transfer of assets and so on),

(5) engaging and developing the next generation, and

(6) ownership succession and developing responsible future owners.

In many ways this research is encouraging, showing that despite the pressure to deliver short term results, SMEs do have one eye on the long term.



Careful planning needed

Penny Lovell, Head of Private Client Services at Close Brothers Asset Management said: "UK SMEs face a multitude of challenges and family-owned small businesses can have an especially hard time navigating regulation and adapting to changing policy while remaining loyal to their unique set of family values.

Beyond that, all this must be done while running a profitable business.

"Succession planning is naturally a significant concern for family businesses and requires careful consideration. Not only must owners consider developing their replacement, and ensure family values are adhered to, they also must plan for their own retirement.

Taking advice early and developing a personal financial plan is crucial to alleviating anxiety and meeting long-term goals."






3 Team-Building Secrets of Successful Small-Business Owners
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 10:26

Small businesses depend on talent: finding it, nurturing it, and retaining it. But what does that mean, exactly? In honor of National Small Business Week, we spoke with a few successful entrepreneurs to learn about their team-building strategies.


As more than one founder told us, getting the right people is just as important as having a compelling vision and making sure the bank account has enough to cover payroll.


"I believe the CEO of a small-to-medium business has three major duties: to make sure there is money in the bank; to get the right people in the right roles; and to guide the long-term vision for the company," said Nick Gray, the founder and CEO of Museum Hack, a team-building company in New York City that counts major brands, including Facebook, among its customers. "After that, I try to get out of the way and let our team do their best work."


In fact, we found a few common themes among these entrepreneurs.


First: Make sure you hire the right talent. Second, create an environment of mutual trust and respect, so people can do their best work. And third, invest time and thought into developing processes to help those people (and your growing company) accomplish things as efficiently as possible.


Here's what these business owners told us about each of these principles:



Hire the right talent.

When you have a small team, each new person has a proportionally large impact on your company and its trajectory. Whether you're talking full-time employees or contractors, you need to find the people who can best help your company grow.


For Holly Cardew, the CEO of photo editing company Pixc, "always be hiring" took on new meaning when she started her company.


"I thought I needed money [first] to hire key players, however, in fact, I should have been making a list of amazing key players that I wanted to have on the team, ready to hire as soon as we grew." If you don't do that, she said, you waste too much time once you do have an opening: Recruiting, vetting, interviewing, and deciding. You can move much faster if you already have some amazing candidates in mind.


Hiring to address shortcomings in your current team's skill set is an ongoing process, not just something you do when you have enough cash to open a new position. Even if you're not going to hire staff, you can contract out work.




Sometimes that means making judgments about what the current team is capable of -- and what it's not so good at. "I'm not afraid to say if we aren't good at something and we need to call in someone to support our needs," said Nicole Snow, the president of Darn Good Yarn. Darn Good Yarn won last year's Community Excellence Award presented by the US Chamber of Commerce, so Snow is definitely doing something right.


And that brings us to our next point.



Empower your team to make decisions.

Once you have talented players, you want to give them the freedom -- and the respect -- they need to do their best work and to bring in others when they need to.


Snow told us about a "magic question" she makes a habit of asking her staff: "How can I help you right now?" Asking this has empowered her team to evaluate and uncover issues she would otherwise have not known about. "It's a great time to stop the bus and take a step back. From there a business owner can help empower an employee to evaluate the root cause of an issue and come up with a system to catch it from occurring again. Thanks in part to this approach, Darn Good Yarn's revenue jumped by 170 percent in 45 days this year.


Michael Branco, the CEO of Fireminds, a software development and IT shop, underscored the importance of trusting staff with the most critical aspect of a business: The relationship with customers. "The success of our business is dependent on our staff," Branco said. "It may sound cliché but great staff and great customer care are the key to success."


"Quality people keep a company alive," Chris Huntley, the founder of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services, a small, independent life insurance agency, told us. "Without their talents we would cease to exist. So I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to create an environment of mutual trust and respect."



Invest in people and processes.

Once you have the right people in place, and you have entrusted them with their missions, you need one more piece: Process.


Even the most talented people get frustrated if they have to solve the same problem over and over. And well-defined processes are the key to growth, because they make it easier to get new contributors on board and up to speed.


Nate Ginsburg, the founder of Onset Interactive, an ecommerce and manufacturing business, said that nailing down processes was essential to maintaining growth once the company gained traction. "Once we started to get some traction, in order to continue to grow it has been essential to get processes down to manage our main business tasks. After the processes are in place, filling the roles to manage those processes has allowed us to continue to grow and grow faster," he said.


Cardew, of Pixc, echoed these sentiments, speaking from the experience of someone who didn't get on the "process" bandwagon quite as quickly. "I wish someone told me about all the tools and processes that I should be mapping and using along the way," Cardew said. "It would have saved a lot of time."


And for Fireminds' Branco, focusing on metrics is what helps him manage his business successfully. Branco constantly reviews the sales pipeline, monitors the profitability of each ongoing project, and tracks a few key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer call response times and customer satisfaction ratings.



Bring it all together.
When you're starting a business, it takes a while to figure out what combination of products and services, what pricing, and what processes will work best.


Ginsburg told us that identifying what works and acting on it quickly was essential. "When you find something that works, move as fast as you can to blow it up as much as possible. Business can change quick," Ginsburg said.


And don't forget about the big picture.

"Think about how you, as a business owner, want to impact the world," said Darn Good Yarn's Snow, who has made it her mission to create opportunities for other people and small businesses within her supply chain. "A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in."








'My sister is laughing all the way to the bank, we will never speak again': Families at war over wills
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 09:43

WILLS – OR SOMETIMES their absence – are a bone of contention for many families.

Most of us have heard stories of families falling out over who gets what when a relative dies. It can create permanent divisions and deep wounds.

The Law Reform Commission is currently asking for submissions on Section 117 of the 1965 Succession Act. It leaves a legal window open for children who feel they haven't been given their fair share of inheritance.

Following on from this, we asked readers to get in touch with their own experiences of problems encountered, and families divided, due to wills and inheritances.
Below is a selection of your stories. All names have been changed to protect people's identities.


'We will never speak again'

Almost €12,000 was taken out of my father's bank account in the six months before he died. He was ill and unable to withdraw the money himself. We only copped that money was being taken out of his account when we saw a letter showing how much was left.

My father was not eating or sleeping the Christmas before he died, yet he 'spent' €4,000.
My sister moved into my father's house two days after the funeral and locked the rest of the family out. She was painting the house before the will was out.

She had previously fallen out with my father but reconciled before his death, and became the executor of his will within the last year of his life.
Based on our experience, the law protects a person who manipulates an elderly man and takes his money, and then can hide behind the executor position.
What's stopping any horrible child taking advantage of their parent? This has had a devastating effect on our lives.

I'm not someone who's down on a sister because she got a house, we want to highlight what she has done.
My sister is laughing all the way to the bank. We don't speak at all. We will never speak again. All our siblings feel the same.
- Mary


'My grandfather was pinned to a wall with a pitchfork at his throat'

My great grandfather and great grandmother lived in the house which had a bit of land attached, with their three youngest sons.
When my great grandfather died in the 1940s he left the house and land to his eldest son: my grandfather.

He and my grandmother moved into the house. After my great-grandmother died a year later, my grandfather asked his brothers to move out.
A huge argument over the issue became violent.

My grandfather was pinned to a wall with a pitchfork at his throat by one of his brothers.
This incident has rippled through the generations and the people involved rarely spoke, except at funerals.
My own father carried this during his life and made a point of being in a position to lower his uncle's coffin into the grave when he died (the one who held a pitchfork to his father's throat).

I eventually inherited the land. There is still bitterness about the original will from cousins and other family members.
It was never really resolved but I sold the house. The house accidentally burnt down soon afterwards, something relatives blamed on the sale.

- Michael


'My mother would have crawled out of her grave'

My mother died a few years ago. My parents were legally separated and my father had been living abroad for some time.
Shortly after my mother's death he contacted me to say that, as they never divorced, he was entitled to a share of the family home.

He told me to sell the house and arrange for the proceeds to be split equally between him, me and my brother.

The deeds to the house were solely in my mother's name.
My mother would have crawled out of that grave rather than have him benefit from her estate.
My solicitor confirmed that my father was entitled to nothing.

He wasn't happy about this and feels my brother and I have stolen from him.
He has cut us off, both from his will (which I care nothing about) and his life. The day I lost my mother I also lost my father. All because of an inheritance.
He said some really awful things to me about myself and my mother.

It really interfered with my grieving process.
He called me a gold digger and said my mother had conned the family home from him. He told me he has no children and that we would never see him again ... He said he'd rather die in agony than see me again, that I disgust him and that I am his enemy.
In response, I once told him I wished he was dead instead of my mother. It was not my finest moment.

I am sad that he won't be in my future but I'm even sadder that the man who had always been hero and my protector has become a horrible, bitter man who I'm ashamed of.
- Jane


'Dad's new wife got everything'

Dad remarried after our mother died. There was only my brother and I, both married with families of our own.
Dad promised us at the time that his second marriage would not change our inheritance. He had inherited the remnants of our mother's business. He had a few years of happiness and we accepted his new wife and enjoyed many family occasions together.

Unfortunately he got cancer and died last year. He changed his will one month beforehand.
When we inquired about the will we received a letter from our father's wife's solicitor stating that we were not mentioned in it.
We received professional advice and were told we had no case unless we discredited our Dad by proving that he did not provide for us.
Our love for our dad did not die even though he dismissed us. Our only consolation is that possibly he did not quite understand what he was signing.

- James and Susie

'The legal bill was just under €100,000′

My wife's family fell out over an inheritance. Her father had land and didn't have a great relationship with his two other children, one of whom is quite wealthy.
He was of sound mind when making his will.
The majority of the inheritance was left to my wife who planned to make sure the other sibling was looked after – until she received notice of court proceedings, citing Section 117, from both.
My sister's wealthy sibling withdrew their claim when it came to providing proof of assets.
The case continued and the legal bill was just under €100,000 when we were advised that it would be easier to make a settlement.
Section 117 is an archaic law that means any spiteful sibling can bring a case against the main beneficiary, even if they've no real grounds. The legal profession seem to be the main people who benefit from it, making large sums of money.
Now I ponder how I can possibly write my will and make sure my wishes are respected.

- John






A Matter of Trust: The Family Business Advantage
Thursday, 28 April 2016 10:46

Trust is an integral part of all organisations and in particular family businesses. Once established, trust must be nurtured as explained by Catherine Faherty, PhD research scholar in DCU Centre for Family Business.

A little girl and her father were crossing a bridge. The father was kind of scared so he asked his little daughter: "Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don't fall into the river." The little girl said: "No, Dad. You hold my hand." "What's the difference?" asked the puzzled father.

"There's a big difference," replied the little girl. "If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go."

Often, as researchers in the field of family enterprise, we are challenged to succinctly summarise what makes family businesses different from other forms of enterprise— what is it that makes these businesses a special kind of business? Family businesses don't have it easy.

The role of CEO is very different when the company was founded by your father, and when your mother and siblings sit around the boardroom table, just as they sat around the dinner table. But these intimate connections can constitute a major advantage for these firms.


Family enterprises draw special strength from their shared history, commitment, and stewardship of the business. When key managers are relatives, their traditions, values and priorities draw from a common source. Yet, with that being said, if we were compelled to boil the differences down to a single concept, a single word, the
one thing that underlies all of the competitive advantages and idiosyncrasies of family businesses, the word would have to be "trust".


No single variable so thoroughly influences interpersonal and group behaviour as does trust. It is the foundation for long-term thinking, commitment, loyalty, stewardship, and much more.

In the form of a definition, trust involves the willingness to take a risk and be vulnerable to the actions of another. Trust, or lack thereof, can be found in all relationships. Its salience in the business environment— between superiors and subordinates, among executive teams, with suppliers or customers—is undeniable.


When families become involved in business, relationships are often distinguished by greater trust than is available to mere business associates alone. Emotional bonds built through kinship, familiarity and shared histories can lead to higher levels of trust within family enterprises.
Obviously, not every family business is characterised by trust. But even those that are fortuitous to carry this key ingredient sometimes take it for granted. So it is important for leaders to understand how trust is nurtured in a family business. Behavioural scientists offer a useful roadmap toward accumulating trust.



They offer three main drivers involved in establishing the trustworthiness of another individual. They are:


1. Integrity:

This refers to an individual's reputation for honesty and truthfulness. In other words, if you say you're going to be there, you're going to be there.


2. Competence:

Does the individual possess the ability, or technical knowledge, required to get the job done? Can they do what they say they are going to do? This particular factor is situation specific, meaning, for example, that you may trust the Marketing Director to develop the annual marketing plan for the organisation, but you might not trust her or him to fix the engine in your car.


3. Benevolence:

This involves evaluating the individual's desire to do good to others. Does he or she genuinely care about me?






Learn to Love Networking
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 12:05

I hate networking." We hear this all the time from executives, other professionals, and MBA students. They tell us that networking makes them feel uncomfortable and phony—even dirty. Although some people have a natural passion for it—namely, the extroverts who love and thrive on social interaction—many understandably see it as brown-nosing, exploitative, and inauthentic.


But in today's world, networking is a necessity. A mountain of research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction.


When we studied 165 lawyers at a large North American law firm, for example, we found that their success depended on their ability to network effectively both internally (to get themselves assigned to choice clients) and externally (to bring business into the firm). Those who regarded these activities as distasteful and avoided them had fewer billable hours than their peers.


Fortunately, our research shows that an aversion to networking can be overcome. We've identified four strategies to help people change their mindset.



1. Focus on Learning

Most people have a dominant motivational focus—what psychologists refer to as either a "promotion" or a "prevention" mindset. Those in the former category think primarily about the growth, advancement, and accomplishments that networking can bring them, while those in the latter see it as something they are obligated to take part in for professional reasons.


In laboratory experiments we conducted in the United States and Italy with college students and working adults, and in an additional sample of 174 lawyers at the firm we studied, we documented the effects of both types of thinking. Promotion-focused people networked because they wanted to and approached the activity with excitement, curiosity, and an open mind about all the possibilities that might unfold. Prevention-focused people saw networking as a necessary evil and felt inauthentic while engaged in it, so they did it less often and, as a result, underperformed in aspects of their jobs.



Thankfully, as Stanford University's Carol Dweck has documented in her research, it's possible to shift your mindset from prevention to promotion, so that you see networking as an opportunity for discovery and learning rather than a chore.


Consider a work-related social function you feel obliged to attend. You can tell yourself, "I hate these kinds of events. I'm going to have to put on a show and schmooze and pretend to like it." Or you can tell yourself, "Who knows—it could be interesting. Sometimes when you least expect it, you have a conversation that brings up new ideas and leads to new experiences and opportunities."


If you are an introvert, you can't simply will yourself to be extroverted, of course. But everyone can choose which motivational focus to bring to networking. Concentrate on the positives—how it's going to help you boost the knowledge and skills that are needed in your job—and the activity will begin to seem much more worthwhile.



2. Identify Common Interests

The next step in making networking more palatable is to think about how your interests and goals align with those of people you meet and how that can help you forge meaningful working relationships. Northwestern University's Brian Uzzi calls this the shared activities principle. "Potent networks are not forged through casual interactions but through relatively high-stakes activities that connect you with diverse others," he explains. (See "How to Build Your Network," HBR, December 2005.) Numerous studies in social psychology have demonstrated that people establish the most collaborative and longest-lasting connections when they work together on tasks that require one another's contributions. Indeed, research that one of us (Tiziana) conducted with INSEAD's Miguel Sousa Lobo showed that this "task interdependence" can be one of the biggest sources of positive energy in professional relationships.


Consider the approach taken by Claude Grunitzky, a serial entrepreneur in the media industries, when he set out to meet Jefferson Hack, founder of the underground British style and music magazine Dazed & Confused. As described in a Harvard Business School case study by Julie Battilana, Lakshmi Ramarajan, and James Weber, Grunitzky—then 22 and preparing to found his first business, an urban hip-hop magazine in London—learned everything he could about Hack.



"I read every one of his magazines, noticed what he was writing about and what kinds of bands he reviewed," Grunitzky recalled. "I did so much of this I felt I could almost understand his personality before we met." Armed with that knowledge and convinced that he and Hack had similar worldviews and aspirations, Grunitzky felt much more comfortable approaching the industry elder.


When your networking is driven by substantive, shared interests you've identified through serious research, it will feel more authentic and meaningful and is more likely to lead to relationships that have those qualities too.



3. Think Broadly About What You Can Give

Even when you do not share an interest with someone, you can probably find something valuable to offer by thinking beyond the obvious. Of course, this isn't always easy. We've found that people who feel powerless—because they are junior in their organizations, because they belong to a minority, or for other reasons—often believe they have too little to give and are therefore the least likely to engage in networking, even though they're the ones who will probably derive the most benefit from it.


This problem was highlighted in two studies we conducted at the law firm mentioned above, which involved different groups of lawyers at different points in time. We found that senior people were typically much more comfortable networking than junior people were because of their greater power in the organization. This makes sense. When people believe they have a lot to offer others, such as wise advice, mentorship, access, and resources, networking feels easier and less selfish.


A controlled experiment confirmed this finding: People in whom we induced feelings of power found networking less repulsive and were more willing to do it than people assigned to a condition that made them feel powerless.



If Networking Makes You Feel Dirty, You're Not Alone
Many people find professional networking so distasteful that it makes them feel morally and physically dirty. In a controlled experiment, we asked 306 adults working at various organizations to write about times when they engaged either in networking for professional advancement or in social networking to make friends. We then asked them to complete word fragments, such as W _ _ H, S H _ _ E R, and S _ _ P—a measure of subconscious preferences first used by Chen-Bo Zhong, of the Rotman School of Management, and Katie Liljenquist, of the Marriott School of Management.


Participants who had recalled professional networking wrote "WASH," "SHOWER," and "SOAP"—words associated with cleanliness—twice as frequently as those who had recalled social networking, who more often wrote neutral words such as "WISH," "SHAKER," and "STEP." In other words, although most participants viewed networking to socialize and make friends as positive, they saw networking to enhance their careers as distinctly negative. Their negativity was not simply dislike or discomfort. It was a deeper feeling of moral contamination and inauthenticity.


However, even those with lower rank and less power almost certainly have more to offer than they realize. In their book Influence Without Authority, Allan Cohen and David Bradford note that most people tend to think too narrowly about the resources they have that others might value. They focus on tangible, task-related things such as money, social connections, technical support, and information, while ignoring less obvious assets such as gratitude, recognition, and enhanced reputation. For instance, although mentors typically like helping others, they tend to enjoy it all the more when they are thanked for their assistance.


The more heartfelt the expression of gratitude, the greater its value to the recipient. One young professional we know told us that when she turned 30, she wrote to the 30 people she felt had contributed the most to her professional growth, thanking them and describing the specific ways each had helped her. The recipients no doubt appreciated the personalized update and acknowledgement.


When gratitude is expressed publicly, it can also enhance an adviser's reputation in the workplace. Think of the effect you have when you sing your boss's praises to your colleagues and superiors, outlining all the ways you've progressed under his or her tutelage.


When your networking is driven by shared interests, it will feel more authentic.


People also appreciate those who understand their values and identities and make them feel included. Juan, an Argentinian executive based in the Toronto office of a Canadian property management company, told us about Hendrik, a junior hire from Germany who rallied everyone in the office to join a series of soccer games that he single-handedly organized. His fellow expats—and there were many, because the company's workforce was internationally diverse—finally had something fun to do with their colleagues, and Hendrik's status and connections immediately shot up. In spite of his low-power position, he had brought something new to the table.


You might also have unique insights or knowledge that could be useful to those with whom you're networking. For example, junior people are often better informed than their senior colleagues about generational trends and new markets and technologies. Grunitzky is a prime example. "I knew I could bring something to [Jefferson Hack], which was expertise in hip-hop," he said. The relationship ended up being a two-way street.


When you think more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them, networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless—and therefore more worthy of your time.




4. Find a Higher Purpose

Another factor that affects people's interest in and effectiveness at networking is the primary purpose they have in mind when they do it. In the law firm we studied, we found that attorneys who focused on the collective benefits of making connections ("support my firm" and "help my clients") rather than on personal ones ("support or help my career") felt more authentic and less dirty while networking, were more likely to network, and had more billable hours as a result.


Any work activity becomes more attractive when it's linked to a higher goal. So frame your networking in those terms. We've seen this approach help female executives overcome their discomfort about pursuing relationships with journalists and publicists. When we remind them that women's voices are underrepresented in business and that the media attention that would result from their building stronger networks might help counter gender bias, their deep-seated reluctance often subsides.


Andrea Stairs, managing director of eBay Canada, had just such a change in perspective. "I had to get over the feeling that it would be self-centered and unseemly to put myself out there in the media," she told us. "I realized that my visibility is actually good for my company and for the image of women in the business world in general. Seeing my media presence as a way to support my colleagues and other professional women freed me to take action and embrace connections I didn't formerly cultivate."


Many if not most of us are ambivalent about networking. We know that it's critical to our professional success, yet we find it taxing and often distasteful. These strategies can help you overcome your aversion. By shifting to a promotion mindset, identifying and exploring shared interests, expanding your view of what you have to offer, and motivating yourself with a higher purpose, you'll become more excited about and effective at building relationships that bear fruit for everyone.






Sisters’ scarves stocked in Brown Thomas and Avoca
Wednesday, 27 April 2016 10:12

KDK is an Irish family business specialising in designer luxury scarves founded by Keira and Dairine Kennedy. Sisters who always wanted to create our own range of genuinely individual and cool products. After doing Degrees/Masters in Commerce & Marketing and getting over 10 years' experience in the business sector they decided to put this experience to work on their own brand.


Over the past few years they have pursued several creative avenues; painting, photography, jewellery design and sculpture which gave them a taste for what they wanted the brand to look and feel like. It was on a trip to India that the sisters were inspired to start a range of scarves using this incredible quality of the cashmere wool and the superior craftsmanship. They felt there was a niche in the market for high quality wearable scarves with artistic and unique designs and KDK was born. Luxury cashmere for everyday life.


The business was established in 2012 and has quickly grown to be stocked in Brown Thomas, Avoca and several exclusive boutiques around the country. KDK digitally prints Irish-inspired images onto scarves that are made from luxurious fabrics such as cashmere, silk and silk blends. the interview below gives insight as to how are are getting on. 



What sets your business apart from the competition?

The accessories market is very competitive but it's also a big growth market because people can tap into the luxury market without spending a fortune. Our scarves are different to other products in the marketplace in that we use our own photos as designs and try to make something that is specifically Irish while also being stylish.


What was the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

My old boss in Leinster Rugby, Conor Hanratty, used to say: "Hard work never goes unrewarded." There are times when you're establishing a new business that you think you're pushing uphill. You're blindly doing a lot of work and you don't really know what's going to happen or you don't get immediate rewards. I think if you really put your heart and soul into something, even though it mightn't turn out exactly how you planned, you will see rewards.
What's the biggest mistake you've made in business.
Underestimating how much administration work would be involved. We thought that design and production would be our greatest challenges but it has instead been the administration of the business.


And your major success?

Being stocked in Brown Thomas for the past four years and getting stocked in Avoca, another store with whom we are proud to be associated. We've just been announced as finalists in the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards. To survive in any retail business you have to be selling the units. It doesn't come down to being "nice that you're Irish"; it comes down to whether the customers are buying your product or not. It's very satisfying to see your scarves selling alongside brands such as Alexander McQueen, Gucci and Valentino.



Who do you most admire in business and why?

There are so many women in fashion that are admirable to us, such as Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney, but from an Irish perspective, Shelly Corkery in Brown Thomas is someone who has worked her way to the top of the tough business of luxury fashion. She has longevity, she has stayed relevant and has taken brave decisions with huge budgets.
On a personal level she was very supportive of us with the CREATE initiative, giving young designers the opportunity to gain experience of a department store environment.
Based on your experience in the downturn, are the banks in Ireland open for business to SMEs?
We started at a really difficult time economically so we didn't even consider going to the bank looking for finance with a luxury product. We had saved money which we put in at the start. I think it made us more careful with our finances.


What one piece of advice would you give to the Government to help stimulate the economy?

Reduce the red tape for small businesses or to have a separate, simpler set of rules for companies that have less than a certain turnover. We find that adhering to all the rules and red tape really eats into time that could be spent growing the business.
The Irish Design 2015 initiative was brilliant for generating a huge buzz among designers. Through that initiative we also got funding to go to the Premier Classe accessories trade expo in Paris. It would be great if such really meaningful support for Irish design and fashion continued.


What's been the biggest challenge you have had to face?

Taking the first step in actually launching the business. We had to learn a lot about the fashion and retail industries and about how the whole system works. It was one thing for me, in my previous role, to sell something like Leinster Rugby, quite another to sell our own product and ourselves.



How do you see the short-term future?

The aim is to expand our volume and to be stocked in department stores in Europe and the US. We are also looking at expanding our product range while still incorporating our digital printing techniques. We have investigated the possibility of making the product entirely in Ireland – we would love our product to say "Made in Ireland" if that was a possibility in the future.


What's your business worth and would you sell it?

I don't know what it's worth and we wouldn't sell it. Well... unless someone like LVMH came along and made us an offer we couldn't refuse!







Days of generous inheritance over as parents need to fund old age
Monday, 25 April 2016 08:40

Parents are less likely to leave substantial inheritances for their children in future, due to increased life expectancy and economic pressures, according to the Law Reform Commission.


It said lifetime earnings are becoming "a safety net" so people can live comfortably in oldage, rather than something to be passed on to children.
The commission is now investigating whether changes are needed to inheritance laws due to the fact people are living longer and releasing equity in their homes to fund their healthcare. The remarks are made in a paper published today.

In particular, the commission is examining whether alterations should be made to Section 117 of the Succession Act 1965, which allows children to challenge a deceased parent's will if they don't believe they got their fair share.

The section has been successfully used in the past to increase a child's share in an inheritance where they believed a parent failed in their "moral duty" to provide for them.


his law was introduced to stop people from being disinherited, but other countries have begun to move away from making such awards.
A member of the commission, Raymond Byrne, said courts in New Zealand and Australia were moving away from the view that people were entitled to an inheritance if they have been cut out of a will.

"In more recent years you are finding judges saying maybe people are no longer entitled to inherit and so they are less likely to change anything that they do see in a will," he said.
He said the commission was not prejudging the issue and could not yet say what recommendations it would make.

The commission says there has been major demographic and economic changes in Ireland since the law was enacted over 50 years ago.
It said children now remain dependent on their parents for longer.

In turn, parents are also living longer and may themselves become dependent on their own children later in life.
"Lifetime earnings may become increasingly viewed as a safety net to provide for someone's later years, rather than a helping hand to give to the next generation," the paper said.
It cited research by English gerontologist Professor Sarah Harper, who found that many parents will be relying on the value of their family home to fund their longer life expectancy.
In the past, this would have been the main asset inherited by their children.

But the paper noted Professor Harper's view that the 20th century idea of getting on the property ladder, not only to own a property but to be able to pass it on, may be quite short-lived.
"The effect of this may be that in the 21st century, the older generation may consider that it does not owe much to the next generation, their children, once they are adults," the paper said.

The commission's questions are now being raised over whether Section 117 should take into account such demographic changes.
When completed, the review will contain recommendations on whether Section 117 should be repealed, retained or amended. It is also considering whether it should be extended to cases where a parent dies intestate.




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