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Diversifying Your Professional Network
Claudia Lambert / MARCH 09 2021
Summary

Networking is an important step throughout your career and especially while you are looking for a new opportunity. Having a diverse network can foster new viewpoints, insights, resources, and lived experiences that can help you consider new departments in hospitality that you hadn’t previously considered. 

Here are some ways to help you diversify your network. 

Get ready to step out of your comfort zone. Networking may already be out of your comfort zone, but to diversify your network, you’re going to reach out to people you may have little to nothing in common with. 

This may also include learning a new skill that doesn’t fit directly into your current career path, like taking a cooking class or learning a new language. You can meet people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the subject who could form new connections for you, or even discover that you want to work in food and beverage or have a more guest-facing role. 

If you are networking virtually, reach out to executives from your dream company, or hospitality professionals who live in another country. They will be able to provide a new perspective on the hospitality industry, career paths, or even just how to interact with team members or guests. 

Build the relationships. Although you are hoping that this new connection will lead to a referral or new career opportunity, remember not to go into networking only using the people you connect with for that. Make sure that you are also able to bring something to the table and the relationship. 

As you connect with more people, and eventually meet them in person or attend events and job fairs, get into the habit of being a good listener. Each interaction will be an opportunity to learn about a new experience different from your own. Try asking questions like:

  • “What led you to your career path?”
  • “What are you excited to do next in your career?”
  • “What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?”

Remember to try to listen more than you talk and prioritize connecting with quality people and not focusing on quantity. Make sure to offer a way to continue building the relationship, like email or phone number, and actually follow up with them. The better the relationship, the more comfortable you will be asking for a referral or opportunity. 

Consume content from people who aren’t like you. Make sure to read and listen to books, articles, blogs, podcasts, and lectures created by diverse professionals to learn about different experiences, cultures, and backgrounds as well. A great place to start is following hospitality professional’s LinkedIn pages or professional organizations to see the content they are publishing and promoting. 

This will also help you speak about a vast number of topics when connecting with people, and help you keep an open mind throughout your career when interacting with people and handling different situations. 

For general networking tips, check out these two articles:

How to be Successful with Virtual Networking and Career Fairs

Here’s How to Continue Building Your Professional Network from Home

Hospitality is such a diverse industry and welcomes such diverse guests, so in order to be truly successful in your career, it will help you to understand that not everyone sees the world the same way. The more you reach out and meet people from diverse backgrounds, the more you will also learn about yourself!