LinkedIn 23 may 15

Generally we perceive networking as an activity to gain visibility and connections within your sector and region. For some people, meeting professionals who work in the same sector but at a different company can feel thrillingly audacious. However in reality, networking at its most effective will push you far out of your comfort zone and help you learn to connect with professionals who might be your polar opposite. Here are five important points to consider when networking:

  1. Get fresh – really fresh – perspectives

We definitely do need support from our entourage on a regular basis to keep our motivation going. Nonetheless, to truly innovate and achieve excellence, it’s primordial to exchange with people who know little or nothing about your business, products, or services. Their perceptions might take you completely by surprise, not to mention that their expertise could provide you with a much-needed spark for a new idea.

“I had started to mistake friendship, trust, and accessibility for real expertise in new domains,” wrote Rob Cross and Robert J. Thomas in their article “Managing Yourself: A Smarter Way to Network” for The Harvard Business Review. “This didn’t mean I was going to dump these people, as they played important roles for me in other ways. But I needed to be more targeted in who I let influence my thinking.”

2. Loyal New Customers Out of Left Field

Branching out and networking with professionals outside your comfort zone can superficially appear unproductive, but it actually gives you a real competitive advantage. Say you are a website designer specialised in e-commerce. You might be reaching out to local clothing and accessory boutiques, but generally those are also the first to be solicited by your competitors. What if you reached out to a local bakery and proposed setting up an online system for large orders, e.g. delivering croissants every Monday to a corporation for their regional meeting? Or if you approached a beauty spa about creating an online appointment system for them? Not only would you gain new expertise, but the new clients would most likely be quite loyal since you found a solution for a problem they didn’t even know they had.

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3. Word Might Get Around

By having the courage to approach people outside of your usual region or sector, you also expand the number of people who will think and talk about you. That local bakery that you helped increase sales by 25% in one month? Very likely that they’ll mention your skills to their friend in a city a couple hours away, who then in turns hires you to help them with their bakery. Networking with one new person outside your usual circle can translate over months to many, many new contacts in a short amount of time.

4. Someone Might Know Someone…

Imagine checking out CityHour while visiting the other side of the country. Although you are a surgeon, the profile of a startup entrepreneur intrigues you, so you meet up for a quick coffee. After about 30 minutes, the Millennial tell you his uncle’s company is looking for surgeons to speak at a local conference. The conference happens to be in your favourite seaside town. Congratulations! You just created your own serendipity.

5. … Or Maybe You Know Someone!

And what better way to solidify relationships you already have than by sharing your new contacts with them? One day you get an invitation to meet up for coffee with a geologist. It’s so completely random because you own a skateboard shop, but whatever! You go anyway. Turns out that the geologist is looking for interns and you remember that your best supplier’s son just graduated from university and is looking for an internship in natural sciences. Bingo! Just got a 10% discount on your next order thanks to your openness and quick thinking.

It isn’t easy to get out of your box and challenge yourself, but with the CityHour app you know the other users are there because they, too, are open to disruptive networking. Everyone on CityHour has a broad vision of themselves and how they relate to others, using creativity and receptivity to boost their careers with a minimal investment of time and money. You select the criteria around specific industries, objectives, locations, or time. Either connect with someone nearby  in the next two hours, or plan a meet-up for your next trip out of town. It’s not only fast, easy and free, results are virtually guaranteed!