Networking within your inner circle or network is easy and comes naturally, but reaching people outside of your industry can be a lot harder. There are many advantages to networking with people outside your own network. That’s why it is important that you make it a priority.
You simply never know when you’ll want to change industries or when a connection to a different industry could wind up helping you further your career. So the more diverse your network is, the better it is for you. Although it may take some effort, it will certainly be worth it in the end.
Here’s how to start networking with people outside your network:
The first thing you need to do is to take inventory to determine how diverse your current network is. Start by listing the people closest to you along with their industries, then list as many people as you can think of in your professional circle. Fifty to sixty people is a good place to start.
Figure out how many people in your current network are in your industry and how many are outside of it. You should have at least 30% of your network in industries other than your own. If not, then it’s definitely time to start networking outside your network.
Play the Long Game
Networking is something that takes time, and fostering good relationships with people inside and outside of your network won’t give instant results. For that reason, don’t look for immediate results as you network outside of your industry.
Making connections outside of your industry isn’t all about getting immediate returns, or finding some way to use their connections to further your career.
Instead, be prepared to keep investing your time over the long run and recognise that the biggest advantage you may be gaining from fostering so many different relationships is the chance to grow personally and professionally.
Think Further Afield
Start thinking about people outside of your network that you can reach out to. These might be people that you know from personal circles or people that you went to school with who are now working in different industries.
Once you have your list, then all you have to do is start reaching out to them. More than likely, they’ll be glad to hear from you and eager to network with you, especially if they also see the value in networking with people outside of their industries.
Add it to Your Schedule
If you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to network with people outside of your industry, maybe it would be a good idea to add it to your schedule. Even devoting just 20 minutes a day to networking beyond your industry could have huge returns for you.
Pick a time during the day when you will do it, and make it a priority. Perhaps it’s something you can do every day when you get back from lunch as an easy way to ease yourself back into the workday. Or, it might be something you do at the beginning of the day when you’re already checking your emails.
Ask to be Introduced
The best people to ask about expanding your network beyond your industry are those who are in different industries that are already a part of your network. They can connect you to more people within their industry and will likely be more-than-willing to make an introduction for you.
It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not all about what you’re getting out of these networking relationships. You may end up helping someone else more than they help you, and that’s ok. Part of business networking is helping others succeed as well.