Networking outside your industry may allow you to corner your next client…

Does it seem difficult to get meetings when everyone knows exactly what you’re looking for? Your boss may be recommending you make friends at industry events but it might not be your only option. Most of your contacts are either competitive with you or have a contact they already refer their leads to. So if you’re looking to stand out from the pack, you should figure out what those other options are.

I’ve found one of the best ways to be a good networker is to think outside the box. Finding a way to network outside of your industry may set you apart and I’m going to outline a couple basic things to pay attention to while you’re getting started.

Think Ahead

If you know you can’t keep yourself from asking for the same thing in the same way, avoid contacting anyone considering the “ignore” button when you call. Your one job when networking within your industry is to realize that your industry is smaller than you think and you need to think through each action you take. Its as if you need to make a big splash without letting any water out of the pool.

Don’t Be Boring

Be honest with yourself. Are you fun to hang out with during the work day? Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. It’s definitely hard to shake the tunnel vision between 6am and 6pm and it’s even more difficult to find honest feedback from other people using similar tactics. However, if you think about your perspective on others within your industry making a big deal about how much they need you to send them business, you’d avoid them too. Everyone needs business but it takes patience and trust to get what you want. Some of the people we’re likely to send business to are the ones that hardly ever talk about work. They’re wise, fun and probably comment more about a funny movie or tasty restaurant than number of leads in their CRM. I’m definitely recommending you qualify your contacts before you send anyone a referral. Don’t just send all of your referral business to your friends. Just think about what would make you do that, it’s probably because you’re thinking about “hooking them up” than the actual project ahead.

Hang Out With The Opposite Sex

Whether you know how to speak to the opposite sex or not you’re going to need to do business with them from time to time. Knowing that, it doesn’t hurt to have some practice before you’re unintentionally saying something inappropriate when it really counts. It wouldn’t be too tough to make sure some of your contacts in the working world were more different than you, right? Whether you’re in a relationship, single, married, whatever, it’s okay to have lunch or grab a coffee with the opposite sex. It’s probably more entertaining than you think and since they’re different than you, you’re probably offering something complementary to their business.

Network Outside Your Industry First

If you’re selling software to doctors, it’s in your best interest to know that the last thing a doctor wants to receive is another email from you. Their days are busy and the only way to get noticed in their inbox is by offering winning tickets to the lottery. They have a million things on their mind and the more successful they are, the less interested they are in adding new items to their equation even if they can afford it. Make sense? You don’t have to go right after your clients, you can take one of several other tactics. Think like you’re the king of your own royal army of one. You get to create your own strategy according to your own ideas. Even if your boss wants you to do things a certain way, if you close a bunch of deals, they’ll understand.

If you’re interesting enough, your contacts that you network outside of your industry with will send you introduction emails the easy way. It’s a different way of thinking. You’re using indirect tactics for very direct opportunities. Using referrals will allow you to act like a boxer working on ways to corner your opponent without throwing a single punch.

Conclusion

There’s no perfect way to do sales, end of story. Why not try to do things differently than everyone else in your industry? Your best referral sources might grow to areas you didn’t think would send you business. They may not be in your industry but if you play it right, they may be more likely to give you a higher quality introduction than anyone else.