“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!”


The origin of this saying is unclear. According to etymologist Barry Popik, there are already two citations of the phrase more than a century ago in the US. It then became frequently used in business from 1937 onwards.

Competence is not enough

We all like to think that competence is the most important determinant of professional success. It is certainly the case over the long run, but it is not enough.

Clearly provocative, the title of this editorial aims at emphasizing the growing importance of effective business networking. Everything else being indeed equal in terms of professional expertise and competence.

An effective network

When appropriately performed, business networking is an effective, low-cost marketing method for developing contacts for career development, job search and/or sales opportunities, based on personal referrals and introductions. It offers a way to reach decision-makers who might otherwise be very difficult to engage with using conventional methods. But don’t forget, creating an effective network can take years. It is also a twoway street. It is about building relationships. We all have something interesting to share, so why not give first?

One of the 2 missions of SolvaySchoolsAlumni is the support we offer to our members:

  • developing solidarity and fraternity between our Alumni;
  • helping our members to achieve a fulfilling professional life based on their needs: to be high performing, experts in their field, connected, free, employable.

A tradition of excellence

What we all have in common is the same tradition of excellence, which is one of the building blocks of our unique emotional connection as Alumni. It is the wide diversity of functions, industries, generations, backgrounds and languages, as well as how each of us has gone on to develop personally and professionally after graduation that creates the richness of our network.

Ernest Afterwork

Following on from a recent survey, earlier this year we launched a new type of networking event: the ERNEST AfterWork – the name being a grateful nod to our father, Ernest Solvay. Every three months we look to produce a place where our Alumni can feel at home and share their experiences and ideas at the bar with other Alumni.

There is none of the segmentation that a specific conference would bring. This is because we believe that over the course of our careers each of us will change function and industry a number of times and that industries are increasingly interconnected. And crossgenerational discussions can benefit both younger and older Alumni.

We hope to see you at the next AfterWork event.

Christophe Segaert (1990)
Vice President Consumer Market @ VOO



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