Network Outside Your Own Industry

Networking does not end when you land your dream job, but continues throughout your career as you increase your knowledge and your contacts within your particular industry. Most professionals join associations and attend conferences within their own industries; but what many people fail to do is network effectively outside their own industry.

Adult learning research shows that a peer advisory group containing members from non-competing industries is a highly effective tool for business and personal advancement. Joining a peer advisory group widens your circle of contacts across diverse backgrounds and industries, allowing you the opportunity to forge business alliances with other members. The participants of such groups commonly see increased revenues in their businesses along with decreased company costs.

Research by the Edward Lowe Foundation, an organization that helps entrepreneurs navigate second-stage growth through retreats and online forums, indicates that entrepreneurs learn faster and better when they learn from one another. Peer advisory members trade solutions while respecting trade secrets. They build strong bonds with other members and return to their respective work environments reenergized and revitalized. A peer advisory group serves as your informal board of directors who listen, advise, and validate your experiences.

Members of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), which serves entrepreneurial women who have already achieved a certain level of success, identify the following as some of the benefits they have achieved through the structured WPO peer-to-peer advisory process:

  • Increased revenues
  • New business strategies
  • Employee counseling advice and guidance
  • Group support
  • New business information
  • Decreased isolation
  • Decreased company costs
  • Business development with other WPO members
  • Returning to the work environment reenergized and revitalized

How do you go about finding peers outside your own industry? In selecting a peer advisory group for yourself, the right "fit" is all-important. Check out the Web for focus groups and professional organizations that sponsor advisory groups of 8-20 members from various industries and backgrounds. For example, CEO Focus is a peer consulting group of company presidents and CEOs that employs group meetings to work on business issues confronting its members. There is no substitute for developing bonds with your peers across industries.

Dr. Marsha Firestone is founder and president of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO)
Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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