Diversifying Your Network Not Easy, But Important

It’s much harder to extend ourselves far beyond our inner circle.

I was at a book signing this week for a good friend who’d written a book for young professionals just entering the business world.

What struck me was his ability to make his literary work less about himself and more about the people that were a part of his professional career. During his presentation, he called up myriad people from all walks of life that had supported him throughout his career.

It made me think about how important it is to consciously develop a diverse network of people as you build your career. It’s human nature to flock toward the people with which we have common interests. It’s much harder to extend ourselves far beyond our inner circle to connect with people who don’t seem to have the same interests.

The risk we take is having to identify common threads with those who seem to be outside of our world. The reward we reap is expanding our network by connecting with people who may not naturally fall into our realm of experience or sphere of influence.

It’s been said that diversity is its own reward. Ron Burt, a professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, says you can expect even more good things when endeavoring to expand your network. People that do this:

  • Have a hand in and exercise control over more rewarding opportunities.
  • Are paid better and promoted faster
  • Move information faster and to more people
  • Use less time and energy to get good results
  • Can tailor solutions instead of relying on one-size-fits-all answers to challenges.

All of these benefits are a result of an expanded professional network. But what’s even better is the fact that by expanding your network, you will be able to relate a diverse group of people at a more personal level.

It’s that human connection that will determine your success or failure in business and in life.