Why you need diversity in your network. And how to achieve it.
A diverse network is a powerful network
Whether you’re looking for your ideal clients, trying to land your dream job or internship, or searching for the right mentors and advisors, it is critical to develop relationships across multiple industries, practice areas and sectors. You need to get to know people who have a wide range of experience and backgrounds, different insights and diverse networks of their own.
Don’t limit your circles of influence
Unfortunately, too many people make the mistake of limiting their networks to their immediate contacts. I’m always disappointed when I hear a professional say “I don’t work with the people in other practice areas”, or “I only go to my own industry events”, or “I don’t know anyone in those types of firms”. I realize it seems easier to focus on people who are just like you, who you already know, who share common experiences and environments. These are (usually) the easiest and least stressful groups to approach. But you need to get out of your comfort zone.
How to build a diverse network
To develop a diverse network, you should actively cultivate relationships with people across different ages, cultures, races, religions, education, industries, geographic locations and other distinctions. A diverse network can include friends, family, peers, alumni, co-workers and colleagues. It can also include managers, employees, vendors, clients, entry-level staff, the C-Suite, entrepreneurs, students and retirees. There are no limits on networking: talk to strangers, open your attitude and stretch yourself. You never know how the next person you meet might change your life. Click To Tweet
Allied professionals and other examples of diversity
For example, if you are looking for your first job as an interior designer, don’t limit yourself to connecting only with design firms. You’ll find it valuable to meet people in related fields (aka ‘allied professionals’), such as architects, engineers, contractors, real estate brokers, furniture distributors, fabric designers, public relations and marketing consultants. All of these professionals contribute to design projects and to the design industry, and they can be great sources of information and advice. They know industry trends, how teams work, what clients need, what employers look for, which firms are expanding and which departments may be looking for interns or associates. Get to know these allied professionals and make them your allies too. These allies can answer broad and specific questions such as: With my skills and personality, where do you think I would fit in best? Which industry associations I should join as a young professional? What are the pros and cons of working at a small, privately owned firm? What are the pros and cons of working at a large international firm? Allied professionals understand the industry challenges and opportunities and they know the players. They provide a wider and richer range of perspective, insight and opportunities.
My own experience testing my limits
I have worked in diverse career areas – including theatre, medical social work, commercial real estate, hospitality, marketing and training. It was always a bit intimidating and stressful at first, being ‘the new girl’ and trying to catch up and fit in. It was also exhilarating to be surrounded by new and interesting people, constantly stimulated and challenged. Being on the spot forced me to pay attention, learn quickly, and adapt to each new situation. I had to overcome my insecurities and shyness. I developed a new confidence because I stretched myself. Click To Tweet And each experience has made my career and my life much more interesting and rewarding.
Fireball Network provides networking coaching, presentation training, business development consulting and career coaching to a very diverse range of clients. We empower emerging leaders and established leaders to build their confidence, skills and powerful networks for success. If you’re ready to expand your network and your life and want our expert advice, schedule your free consultation. Fireballs are passionate about helping people connect.