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Young innovators exploit networking

TWENTY-SEVEN-year-old John Egan is chairman of Archipelago, a network for entrepreneurs under 30, and the Dublin ambassador for Sandbox, an international group for young innovators. He is also one of the World Economic Forum's "young global shapers".

Archipelago helps innovators to commercialise their concepts. It holds talks where they can engage with each other and generate ideas.

"It's the largest regular enterprise event in the country," says Egan. "About 250,000 people made interactions online about the last event in the three days prior.

"Most of what we do on the networking side is on Facebook. For example, Archipelago is hosting an event for Sophie Morris from Kooky Dough's book launch, which will mostly be promoted through Facebook groups.

"We're starting a podcast series talking about up-and-comers and success stories and interviews, distributed through iTunes."

Sandbox launched a Dublin hub eight weeks ago and has 700 members globally, with events supported by the likes of Richard Branson and Bill Gates. Thirty million people interacted online about it in the run-up to its launch.

The discussion forum is alive with networking quests. "In the past week we've had requests for experts in underwater robotics, and even for Somali pirates [from someone doing research into 'the misfit economy']."

Egan adds, "The network is so well-established and well-connected. If someone wants to get in touch with Bill Gates or Lady Gaga or Richard Branson, it can be arranged. There is a very high level of trust, so people are willing to share resources and connections.

"We will sit down with members in Dublin and ask what they want to achieve in their field internationally rather than just locally. We've got network maps of who's connected to each other to help."

The World Economic Forum is a big-shot global networking outfit regularly attended by world leaders. "It provides access to a very high net worth network and opens a lot of doors," says Egan. Find its Global Shapers discussion groups at weforum.org/globalshapers.

Smartphone group messaging platform WhatsApp plays a big role in Egan's peer contacts. "There are a number of different groups that are really active."

Community discussion network Ning is used to a lesser extent, he says.

"If you're looking at younger people, LinkedIn is useful, but for my demographic, Facebook groups and WhatsApp are more used."

Sunday Indo Business