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9 Networking Tips to Meet People Outside Your Industry


Photo from GET to Meet, April 2023


To better understand the advantages of networking beyond your industry and how to make meaningful connections, we reached out to nine professionals from various fields. From collaborating with curiosity and an open mind to finding common ground personally, these executives and founders share their best tips for expanding your professional network and reaping the benefits.


  • Collaborate with Curiosity and an Open Mind

  • Embrace New Perspectives and Connections

  • Learn New Strategies and Engage

  • Expand Your Business with Curiosity

  • Treat Everyone as Potential Clients

  • Discover Benefits with Genuine Interest

  • Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

  • Create Memorable First Impressions

  • Find Common Ground Personally


Collaborate with Curiosity and an Open Mind

Networking outside my industry has immensely benefited me in my role as a country manager of a financial comparison site. It has opened up avenues for collaboration with organizations from different sectors, enriching our services with diverse perspectives.


A prime example was when we partnered with a travel agency. Initially, it seemed unrelated, but we found common ground in providing value to our customers. By integrating our services, we offered package deals, enabling our users to compare financial products and book holidays simultaneously.


My best tip for making such connections is to approach networking with an open mind and genuine curiosity. It's about understanding their business, discovering intersections, and exploring how you can mutually benefit each other. In the process, you'll find more common ground than you might initially think.


Lorien Strydom, Executive Country Manager, Financer.com


Embrace New Perspectives and Connections

Networking outside of your industry or discipline can have many benefits for your professional development. For one, it exposes you to new perspectives and ideas that you might not have encountered otherwise. Additionally, it can lead to unexpected collaborations and opportunities.


One real-life example of the benefits of cross-industry networking is when a software developer attended a networking event for architects. At first, he felt out of place, but he soon realized that he could apply some of the architectural principles to his software development work. This led to a new collaboration and a successful project.


For making those connections and finding common ground, my best tip is to be curious and open-minded. Don't be afraid to attend events or reach out to people outside of your immediate network. Approach the conversation with a genuine desire to learn about their work and how it might intersect with your own.



Learn New Strategies and Engage

Networking outside of my industry or discipline has hugely benefited me professionally. For instance, I recently connected with a successful entrepreneur in social media marketing. Through this relationship, I developed an understanding of new fundamental strategies that I now apply to any project.


My best tip for making these connections is to truly get interested in the topic—start researching and asking questions related to it before jumping into a discussion. Never assume you know what others already do—engage to discover their perspectives and make them feel appreciated by acknowledging their successes and ideas.



Expand Your Business with Curiosity

Yes, networking outside of my industry has been a game-changer for my business. By branching out and exploring new opportunities, I have been able to grow my network far beyond the world of SEO. From attending marketing conferences to joining local business groups, these experiences allowed me to connect with others who eventually became not only peers but also potential clients!


My best advice for making outside-industry connections is to stay curious and open-minded. When you are looking to network beyond your scope, first think about what skill sets or experiences the person can bring that you do not already possess yourself.


It's important to identify any areas where there may be synergy between your business goals and those of the person in question, as this will help form a sound basis on which to build your relationship.


By tapping into different networks you would otherwise never encounter through traditional means, you can significantly expand your professional horizons!



Treat Everyone as Potential Clients

As a creative services provider, I don't work in any one industry. I collaborate with local, national, and global clients to create digital content for blogs, social media, and other purposes. My simple yet powerful approach to networking is to treat everyone I meet as a potential client or referral source.


You never know where your next client will come from. You never know who they know that might need your services. Your best bet is to perfect your elevator pitch and share it organically. People are naturally drawn to people who are authentic about what they do, and they'll be happy to refer you to others if the opportunity arises.


Alli Hill, Founder and Director, Fleurish Freelance


Discover Benefits with Genuine Interest

Networking outside of your industry or discipline can benefit you professionally in a variety of ways, such as providing opportunities for collaboration and innovation, expanding your perspective on industry trends and best practices, and broadening your career opportunities.


My best tip for making those connections and finding common ground is to attend events, conferences, or meetups that are focused on topics that interest you but fall outside of your immediate field. This can help you connect with individuals who share your passions and allow you to establish a common ground for conversation.


Additionally, don't be afraid to initiate conversations and ask questions to learn more about the other person's background and experiences. Showing genuine interest and curiosity can help establish a firm foundation for developing professional relationships that may be mutually beneficial in the future.



Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Networking outside of your profession requires a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone and be open to new experiences and connections. Activities like a book club, a hiking group, or volunteering for a cause you care about are great ways to meet and connect with new people.


By attending events and activities that interest you, joining social groups, being curious and open-minded, finding common ground, and making sure that you follow up, you can build meaningful relationships and expand your professional and personal network.



Create Memorable First Impressions

After landing my first corporate gig and working my side hustle as an Instructional Designer in my 20s, I entered my first networking event—shaking in my stilettos. I didn't know what to say, how to pitch myself, leaving me wondering—is this worth it?


My answer now: YES! Networking outside of my industry has helped me create a strategic collaborative partnership generating an extra five figures in revenue for online training, boosting my email subscriptions up to 1,800 without ads, and did I mention more authority?


The best tip I recommend is being obsessed with other people. Ask them about where they are from, what they do, and genuinely compliment them. Make things personal—ask them about their family or professional goals—you'll be memorable.


Your first impression is the most important, so leave people with a smile, handshake, and remember relationships are key.



Find Common Ground Personally

Networking outside of my industry has allowed me to gain new professional connections with people that have unique insights, helps diversify my network, and expands my perspectives on different topics. It also allows me to add someone new to my personal board of directors. Simply reach out when you need sound professional advice and vice versa.


The best tip for finding common ground is to understand more about the individual from a personal level. For example, ask if they play a sport? Are they married? Do they have children? What do they like to do to relax? Understanding more about the individual will help you find at least one point of connection. You never know until you ask. Happy Networking!


TK Morgan, Founder and Visionary, Tuesday At 1030


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.

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