This past week I heard award-winning author, John U. Bacon speak at a program about diversity and inclusion and I have been thinking about that topic ever since.  In my opinion his description of diversity was the best.  He said “Diversity is just different.”  Perfect.

What ways does diversity enter our lives every day? Most of us tend to think of ethnicity or other traditional markers when we hear this word, but it could also mean so many other things.
How does that affect our networking worlds? It does so subliminally.

Have you ever been at a networking event and you made a quick decision about someone that perhaps you haven’t even talked to yet?  Appearance or behavior that is outside your “normal realm” might be shaping those thoughts.  Or have you made a judgment about another business person based on his business model that is different than yours?  Or have you made immediate friend with someone who plays golf at the same club you do?

An element of networking is finding those folks that we can easily make a connection with. Sometimes it is just one isolated item or experience that ties two of you together.  Having that commonality bonds you together and fosters a stronger relationship.  Stronger relationships usually mean that the two people have a desire to help each other – which certainly could mean referrals!

The question I have had to consider since hearing Bacon speak is, “Am I getting past the surface to find more of what I have in common rather than what I have in difference?”   I’d like to think that I do a pretty good job, but I am just as human as the next guy.  Are my judgments holding me back from finding the best referral partner in the world?  This is a work in progress!