Get Out of the Ghetto
Some of the tragedies that have plagued the planet since recorded history is the ‘clique’. Ok, so that may be the understatement of the century but division is a universal problem because our nature is to be as comfortable as possible and that means being with people who are like-minded and similar to us. Whether that be people who are similar in age, education, race etc. In a business sense at networking events with several people in attendance, we find ourselves gravitating towards contacts we know or have something we can easily identify with so we stay comfortable. This can make it harder to do business with new people or companies that we want to do business with.
The crux of the matter is that you don’t know who people know because being successful at cultivating a business network is partly down to how diverse the network actually is.
Exclusivity with a certain group can have some advantages as you’ll have a rapport and a language with these similar contacts can save time but networking, for example, with similar clients all of the time will end up being a mistake. By all means, include similar people in your group but not breaking your walls to see what’s around you will only result in stagnation.
All over the world, we see ghettos of culture, age, interests and belief with walls surrounding them, keeping them away from others. It’s comfortable and it feels safe and we’re all like it to; we want to spend time with people who we can relate to and feel they understand us. We want to spend our time with people who have similar perspectives and experiences as us. Think about your friends, how many of them are friends with the same people? It’s probably likely, so why wouldn’t that be the same in the business networking context with similar contacts?
We look in history at where diversity is embraced and not enforced and we see progress; having a diverse network increases your overall reach as the contact who doesn’t know your contacts now has access to them and you to theirs. The homogeny that comes from staying in your ghetto is blown away as the reach grows and who knows what business you can do through the referrals from other groups?
It goes without saying that the stronger networking groups are the ones who are the most diverse as the likeliness of overlapping with your connectors (those who are opening up possibilities of business in other areas) into other networks. Get diverse and start talking with someone you wouldn’t normally, see what fruit can come from someone new!