Networking your Way to Ideas

Networking is critical to innovation where ideas disseminate as useful insights to another. In this context, networking is more about gaining ideas than about resources. While resource networkers interact with people of homogenous backgrounds to gain access to greater resources (contacts, funds, influence, or information) to further their careers, idea networkers interact with people from heterogeneous backgrounds to gain diverse perspectives and simply learn new ideas.

Interacting with people different from you on some measure—age, country of origin, line of business — can liberate a wealth of knowledge and ideas to grow your business or buoy you up through challenges. As the National Director of CorporateConnections UAE, the more I network the more I have come to realize the benefits of Idea Networking. Here are some tips to build divergent networks that expand on ideas:

Join diverse networks

Associating with people from different backgrounds and mindsets exposes you to varied ideas. As they differ from you in more than one dimension — political views, socioeconomic status, or profession — they lend diverse perspectives for viewing the world from a different lens. Such distinct circles lead to dispersal of information you never had before and speed up the process of new-idea generation.

Attend events

The right events are a great place to meet people from cross-cultural backgrounds and get exposed to ideas that challenge your own. Attending conferences, exhibitions and seminars offers a glimpse of the world outside, demolishes walls and strengthens the innovative prowess of both individuals and teams.

Double up on brunches

Networking over meals in a private space is a good way to candidly converse about the latest happenings and technologies in the market. Invite someone from a different background over coffee or brunch once a week. Structure the questions you plan to ask — What if this happens? What’s the next step? How could we make it possible? — to probe into topics of interest and gain deeper insights.

Form a collaborative community

Be a part of a collaborative community that periodically holds sounding board sessions for individuals with different ideas. The board encourages experimentation and offers guidance on learnable skillsets to progressively move from idea to impact creation. You can even start your own creative community to foster innovation and creativity among young members.

Get intentional about finding diverse people who are in stark contrast to your opinions or beliefs and hold regular discussions with them. The idea is to get conversations flowing and leave the room beaming full of divergent ideas and viewpoints.