I was just reading email from Keith Ferrazzi from 2008 that talks about the type of connections that we have. The point that Keith is making is that oft times we create our network from people that are in the same industry, same Church, same city, or other similarities.
The problem with that practice is that you all know about the same opportunities and therefore your list of possibilities is limited. You need to connect outside your circle to develop a broad based network.
One of the first things that you need to do to expand your network is to put your prejudices on hold. Our prejudices cause us to jump to conclusions and potentially eliminate our best connections. In the LinkedIn world people identify themselves as LIONs or LinkedIn Open Networkers, meaning that they will connect with anybody.
We may not need to be that open, but it is a good example.
Last night I sat with my family and we watched the movie "Yes Man" with Jim Carey. As the movie starts Carey's character always says "No" when asked to do something. As a result his life is on a dead end course; no friends, same job forever, no relationships, people look past him, and basically he is a loser.
Eventually one of his few friends invites him to a "Yes" seminar, where he is challenged to answer "Yes" when asked to do something or a question is posed to him.
When he starts responding with "Yes" his life starts to change dramatically. The changes are a little questionable at first, but even those that appear to be questionable work out to be positives. By the time the movie ends Carey's character is friends with countless people and his life has totally changed.
When it comes to networking we need to say "Yes". I hear countless excuses for not having a network, but we need to take a page from "Yes Man" and break some new ground for ourselves. We must set aside our prejudices and judge people based upon their merits. You never know which contact is going to be your important connection.
Expand your circle of contacts; the reality is that your important connections will come from someone who knows someone who knows someone else. That's why when you are networking it is so important to ask the question of your connections, "Do you know someone that might know someone". It may seem hokey, but it actually works.
Tom is a Career and Accountability Coach helping with career management, resumes, and networking. Sign up for his 7 Tips Series of Articles.