Your professional network is often just as important as your business idea. Yet, many founders and executives find themselves staying within familiar circles. This might feel comfortable, but it works to your disadvantage. By broadening your connections locally and globally, you can open doors to opportunities, insights, and collaborations that can fuel the growth of your venture.
We talked to leaders in the Powderkeg community and beyond who shared how they approach diversifying their professional network, both locally and globally. Keep reading to learn new ideas about how you might diversify your professional network.
Create Content with Experts Outside of Your Geography and Industry
Create compelling content. And invite interviewees from outside of your geography and your industry to contribute. Your network expands naturally when people see themselves (and people like themselves) in your content and in your perspectives. This can be as simple as sharing an article or a post with an additive comment or perspective from someone outside of your current network demographic.
Talk to Your Customers
Talk to my clients as they often have connections and are willing to introduce them to me because they trust me.
Be Open to Connections
I’ve found it helps to be less restrictive and more open to possibilities in connections you make. We have a tendency to focus on ideal or target profiles as we make connections, but the real gold often lies beyond those first-level connections. For example, I have multiple valuable colleagues who were people I interviewed but did not hire, or who were total chance connections. Open yourself to hidden potential and watch your network grow.
Host a Podcast
Hosting the Approved Perspective Podcast has been a valuable strategy for diversifying our professional network. It allows us to connect with tech leaders, experts, and professionals both locally and globally. By featuring insightful conversations and sharing these episodes on various platforms, we not only grow our audience but also foster partnerships, referrals, and affiliates who promote our product.
Participate in Global Events and Online Forums
One strategy I use to diversify my professional network is to attend and participate in niche, local, and global tech events, webinars, and conferences, especially those focused on underrepresented groups. This ensures a broad spectrum of perspectives. Additionally, I engage with online tech forums and communities from various regions, which allows for global connections. This multi-pronged approach ensures a rich, diverse network of professionals from various backgrounds and geographies.
Participate in Industry Events
One effective strategy is active participation in industry events. I attend local meetups and join tech organizations to connect with peers and other sales and marketing colleagues. Globally, I leverage online platforms, mainly LinkedIn, to engage with professionals worldwide, broadening my network.
Make an Extra Effort
Middle aged white guy here and it’s super important for people like me to put in extra effort to diversify our networks. Why? Because in Indy especially we can throw a dart and hit a room full of us. PureInsights sponsors TheStartupLadies and the wonderful work Kristen Cooper and her team are doing to serve these under-funded founders. Currently I’m working to expand my network more with black/brown founders and others – please connect with me if you have suggestions!
Attend DEI Tech Industry Events
I like to attend tech industry events focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to meet tech professionals with different identities. The events attract very diverse audiences, so I rarely find myself in a room full of people like me.
Since I live in a metropolitan area with a strong tech presence, I try to keep a pulse on DEI events hosted by companies with local offices. Almost all in-person events have some amount of dedicated time for casual networking.
I also attend online meetups hosted by HR tech companies, which have been a fantastic way to make connections across the country.
Learn at International Tech Conferences
I attend international conferences both in and out of the country. Traveling allows me to connect with professionals who work within the same industry but have very distinct contributions to the field because of their cultural backgrounds. For example, the technology in one region may vary from that in another, so I get to learn new techniques from my diverse colleagues. Connecting internationally is guaranteed to enrich your networking experiences, as it has mine.
Volunteer to Expand Tech Networks
One strategy I use to diversify my professional network within the tech industry is by volunteering with a professional networking and social group in the city where I live. This approach has not only allowed me to contribute to growing the community but has also facilitated meaningful connections with a diverse range of individuals working in tech. By actively participating in events and initiatives organized by this group, I engage with professionals from various backgrounds, expertise, and experiences that I would otherwise have never met in my everyday life. Volunteering with these groups has fostered a rich and multifaceted network that enhances my professional growth within the ever-evolving tech industry.
Embrace Discomfort for Diverse Connections
Diversifying your network goes hand in hand with discomfort. You need to be in spaces different from what you are used to. This is the only way to meet people different from yourself. Attend events that cater to minority groups. Talk to organizations that focus on cultural diversity. Integrate yourself into spaces where you can meet different people. Understand and embrace that this can often feel uncomfortable. This is exactly what will give you a new perspective and help you grow. Do not be afraid to acknowledge the differences.
Network at Local Business Seminars
Attend any seminars that are hosted or sponsored by local business publications. These are networking-heavy events that bring together real decision-makers in the tech industry. Attendance gets you a chance to speak on a panel later on, which can really advance your career as an industry thought leader. You’ll learn a lot about trending topics and have the chance to go deeper with one-on-one conversations.
Meet Tech Peers at Local Events
It may sound a bit low-tech, but I think the best way to do this is by going to in-person mixers and meet-ups in your local area. It helps if you live in a major city, but even fairly small towns usually have tech meetups, often organized on Facebook, Meetup, Internations, etc., where you can bump into people you likely would never have the opportunity to meet in the course of your normal work in the tech industry. It can help you shortcut levels of access—for example, I once ran into the center manager for a major client, which helped smooth the way to get them onside.
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