By Bob Salvas
 

“The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network – not a homogeneous one.”
-Dr. Ivan Misner    

 

Once you develop the skills necessary to network and you network consistently over time, you will likely have some success.
The basics of networking are simple: 1-Meet people; 2-Help them succeed and nurture your relationship with them; 3- Educate
them on what you do so they can refer people to you at the appropriate time. There is more to it, but those are the main steps.
 

To take your networking to the next level, you may have to get out of your comfort zone. Consider this: who are the people you
are meeting and are drawn to? The chances are that the people you like to talk to and become friendly with and hang out with
are the people that are very much like you. A recent study by psychologist Donn Byrne suggested that the greater degree of
attitudinal similarity between two people, the more they tended to like each other. Previous studies have also indicated
similar results for people with similar sociodemographic dimensions. According to Byrne, why this happens is because we need
consistency in our world, so “we tend to favor ideas and beliefs that support and reinforce that consistency.”
 

How does this affect your networking? Well, the MOST powerful part of networking is connecting to the networks of other people.
According to marketing expert and author Tim Templeton, we each know about 250 people well enough to refer and when I connect
in a positive way with YOU, that gives me the opportunity to potentially get referrals to some of the 250 people that YOU know.
But what happens if I already know 50% or more of the people you know? That reduces the number of those opportunities.
 

Conversely what if I meet someone who is from a different age group, different cultural background, grew up in a different
place, has a different world view than I have, etc.? I may not know ANY of the people who are in their respective circles and
that creates more opportunity. You don’t have to know everyone, but if you know a lot of people who know a lot of DIFFERENT
people, that is where your networking can achieve exponential results.
 

So, get out there and talk to DIFFERENT people at networking events! And when it comes to joining organizations, consider those
with a business focus: Chambers of Commerce or Business Networking International or other similar organizations. These
organizations often have a diverse membership base who all share the desire to grow their businesses. If you are ambitious, you
might even join or attend an event run by those who are very different from you. Most organizations are open to all who want to
join. But remember this important lesson: WHATEVER you join, COMMIT to it! Nothing happens just by paying your membership
dues. You must engage with the group, go to the events and even volunteer to help on some things. Often that means you cannot
join too many groups because there is still only 24 hours in a day.
 

And remember, if you really want to take your networking to the next level, you might need to take a step out of your comfort zone!