Network Diversity: Innovation through conversation with Jeni Smith of NetKno

‘Diversity’ can muster up a whole host of thoughts and emotions, and it’s a topic being considered more and more by businesses. But have you ever considered just how diverse your network is?

At VentureFest 2022 I ran a session on Innovation through Conversation and facilitated a short networking activity. Post lockdown we’re all a bit out of practice when it comes to talking to strangers, so the Innovation SuperNetwork brought me in to hopefully make things a little easier for everyone.

Within the session I talked about the value of network diversity, a topic I’m really passionate about, so to carry on the conversation here’s a bit more detail about what building a diverse network can mean for you and your business…

To me, one of the joys of networking has always been the vast array of people, events gives us access to. Being able to talk to people from all walks of life, sectors, backgrounds, cultures, and learn from them and their experiences. They see the world differently, and I’ve always loved finding out about other people’s perspectives and of course tapping into their knowledge.

But over the last few years I’ve questioned just how vast the array of people I was connecting with actually was. Attending the same type of business events meant I’d been connecting with the same type of business people. Since launching NetKno in 2020 I’ve been able to proactively expand that reach much more diversly into academia, tech, education, and the charitable sector, and it’s highlighted just how disconnected we all are!

Academics tend to network with academics. Techies with techies. Businesses with business. And we’re all missing out on each other’s knowledge, experience, and insights. We’re missing out on transferable skills, sparking innovative ideas, spotting opportunities within entirely new markets! The list goes on.

Harvard Business Review released a study that revealed that businesses who’s CEO’s have diverse networks are on average valued at an additional $84million. That’s incredible! CEO’s who look outside their areas of expertise to learn from others, source solutions, and spark innovative ideas are creating far more financially successful businesses.

See, this isn’t just ‘nice to have’, ‘fluffy stuff’ or ‘soft skills’ – this is hugely impactful and incredibly simple to achieve. We just need to more strategic in our approach to networking to ensure we’re creating network diversity.

So, when you next go to book on to a networking event have a think about the type of people you might meet or the things you’re hoping to learn, because if we only ever speak to people who know what we know we’ll never learn anything new.

For more on effective networking check out NetKno’s website, or you can download a free whitepaper on The Art of Strategic Networking.

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