Network Beyond Your Industry: 7 reasons to connect with “outsiders” [581 words]

Network as Broadly as Possible

In my programs on networking, I stress the importance of diversifying your professional network. This includes expanding your network beyond your current industry. The first step in assembling your CHAMP network, after all, is to build a relationship with your customer. And customers almost always work in a different industry.

Recently, Tony Cañas, a Super Networker in the Insurance industry (his collaborations include the InsNerds blog and the book Insuring Tomorrow: Engaging Millennials in the Insurance Industry), asked me a question that surprised me.

It’s an interesting perspective. My network is very diverse in race, age, experience, etc; but it’s very undiverse in industry, it’s 95%+ insurance. Why would I diversify it into unrelated industries?

Author’s note: This article is adapted from my book, Network Beyond Bias.

Why You Should Include “Outsiders” in Your Professional Network

My response to Tony was specific to the insurance industry. But these rules apply to everyone, in just about every line of work!

1. Innovation requires a variety of new ideas

New ideas come from new places. And evaluating them requires you to get outside an echo chamber of people who only know what you know.

2. Talent (and skills) can transfer between industries

Your next star hire might be working in a dead-end job in a different industry. Conversely, you probably have numerous transferable skills that make you attractive to companies outside your wheelhouse.

3. Industries affect one another

In Tony’s case, the Insurance industry affects every other industry, and vice versa. Consider how your industry is part of the larger economic picture, cultural landscape, or community ecosystem. What other industries affect your work? Which industries stand to gain or lose by changes that directly affect your company?

4. Industries overlap

Information technology, human resources, training and development, management, consulting, and other industries are often embedded within companies whose focus is elsewhere. Similarly, an HR consulting firm probably has an information technology department.

Consider a company that provides nurses with on-the-job technical training for medical devices. Would that company be part of the training industry, the nursing industry, the medical device industry, or the consulting industry? How might new training technologies or changes in nursing students’ demographics affect this company? These are simple examples, but they illustrate the power of thinking beyond industry silos.

5. Better understand your customers’ needs

Your customers are focused on their own problems, challenges, markets, and opportunities. By better understanding those forces, you can serve your customers more effectively.

6. If your industry lags others in technology, social trends, etc., you need to stay on top of what’s coming

Has your company seen the impacts of wearable tech, bitcoin, and artificial intelligence? If not, you can network with people in industries that are leading the way. Learn from them how they’ve adapted, what lessons they’ve learned, and what opportunities they lost to their competitors. This allows you to think strategically by applying this knowledge within your own company or industry.

7. If your industry leads others, you can create new business opportunities

Is your company or industry a leader in trends and tech? If so, consider all they ways you could share what you’ve learned…and monetize it. Blogs, consulting gigs, speaking engagements, books, and e-courses on these topics could all create new revenue streams for your company.

Next Steps

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Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at

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6 responses to “Network Beyond Your Industry: 7 reasons to connect with “outsiders” [581 words]”
  1. […] yet. In many cases, we don’t even know the questions! So we need to continue to learn and collaborate across disciplines to build flexible and unique solutions for myriad contingencies. Learning […]

  2. […] yet. In many cases, we don’t even know the questions! So we need to continue to learn and collaborate across disciplines to build flexible and unique solutions for myriad […]

  3. […] built a deep CHAMP Network through participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), attending conferences, and building your personal brand on social media. You’ve started to build genuine […]

  4. […] other contexts. By expanding my network, I began to synthesize information across disciplines and industries. I was better poised to connect more people to each other and to new ideas. By getting out of my […]

  5. […] of experience is required? Which skills are most important? How large is the company, and what industry does it serve? Does the recruiter know the target salary for the position? A little information […]

  6. […] for the position that you’re posting and post it there. Get out of your own company (and possibly your industry) and look around at where qualified people really are. If they are at association events or […]

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