So, why should you network outside your industry? Do you attend the same networking events, conventions, and trade shows every year? While you’re there, do you visit the same companies and people over and over again? Do you only attend industry-related events? If you answered yes to all three, you might be missing a golden opportunity.
Why You Should Network Outside Your Industry
What Lies Outside Your Comfort Zone?
You know your industry inside and out. You can talk the talk, know who’s who, and people know you. You’re comfortable. However, stepping outside of your comfort zone by attending functions unrelated to your industry can be rewarding and eye-opening.
- Get a different perspective – Professionals outside your industry who don’t know you or your organization can give you a new view of your business.
- New Business – A signage and promotional product sales team I worked with discussed the idea of attending events outside of their expertise. So, we jumped online and looked for upcoming conventions in our area. For example, there was an Indiana Bankers Association event with 600 attendees. This team wasn’t in banking, and it wasn’t their typical audience. What the heck did they know about banking? I know this, the financial institution where my father banked changed hands three times in five years. That’s three rebranding efforts—signs, graphics, and marketing.
- Who do they know – Even if you don’t make a direct connection, you never know who knows who. I’ve learned to ask folks this simple question, “What person, company, or industry would you like to be introduced to?” Most folks reciprocate and ask me the same. Is there any way better to meet someone than through an introduction?
- References – A good connection outside your industry could lead to a great reference. They may not be an expert reference for your skill set, but if you build an open, honest, professional relationship, they can recommend your character, and what’s more important than character?
I Challenge You!
Get out of your comfort zone. Get online and look for events in your area. Here are a few examples for central Indiana.
- Trade Shows– Find a trade show outside of your core industry.
- Events– Search for “out-of-the-box” events.
- Eventbrite – Peruse Eventbrite to find meet-ups and more.
- Networking – Find networking groups in your vicinity.
Most likely, there are plenty of opportunities in your area. Are you ready to take the challenge? Here it is: Find and attend one event this summer outside of your box. If you do, let me know how it went. Isn’t it about time to get a little uncomfortable?
Are You a Good Networker?
I’d always considered myself an effective networker. I’m friendly, easy to talk to, and I’ve never met a stranger. However, none of that makes me a good networker – it makes me outgoing. If I wanted to be the most effective networker I could be, I needed a plan. That’s how my networking workbook, Help Networking started.
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