Steps to Networking – Step 6: Diversity

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 1st, 2010

STEP 6: Diversity

In building a network, create a multi-faceted superstructure that includes contacts who possess a wide variety of skills, interests and backgrounds. Fill you life with network members whose help can quickly be accessed so that their assistance will be available to you when you need it.

Visualize your network. Don’t picture it as a chain or a single column of contacts who all share similar areas of expertise. Instead, see it as a multi-dimensional meshwork made up of people with differing talents, experiences and viewpoints that radiate and link in all directions. Ideally, your network will spread in many directions so it can operate like a blanket to cover any conceivable topic, discipline or target.

Make your network diverse. Fill it with experts in areas that differ from and compliment your skills. Think of the members of your network as your support team; consider them experts who are fluent in languages you don’t speak. Blend a mix of talents, interests, age, gender, race and backgrounds. Besides filling in your gaps, the differences can stimulate, enrich and expose you to knowledge and perspectives that can broaden your life.

NETWORKING NUGGET

When graphic designer Marta Salas-Porras was a student at Art Center College of Design, the students majoring in differing disciplines seldom mixed. For example, graphic design students and transportation design students kept their distance. Salas-Porras; however, was intrigued by other disciplines and found herself spending considerable time with students from the automotive and industrial design departments. Not only did the processes and materials involved in automotive and industrial design play a major role in shaping Salas-Porras’ career, but a student she met from the transportation design department introduced her to his childhood buddy — who she married.

“School and alumni groups are ideal places to begin networking,” Salas-Porras advises. “They put you in contact with like minded people who have the same goals as you, who know what you’re going through and the hurdles you’ll face. Contacts from school and alumni associations can become your friends, mentors, sponsors and advisors throughout your life.”

By not diversifying your network, you run the risk of having a group with too many similar skills and areas of glaring weaknesses. You also run the danger of duplicating yourself, of surrounding yourself with “yes” men and women, which undermines a major asset of networks – – – in influx of fresh, independent support.

How can you diversify your network? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

List your weakest areas __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Who could help you diversify? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Although it’s essential to surround yourself with the best network members that you can reach, be careful not to consider anyone too small or insignificant for membership in your network. There is always a role they can play and you never know what connections people have or what the future may bring. The receptionist who greeted you today, might be the executive assigned to your account tomorrow; the mechanic who services your car may work on the CEO’s racing team and hang out with him/her at the track and the kid who delivered your lunch, just might be the bosses child.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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