NRENs have a recognised role in supporting data-intensive national and international research. But what about catering for users beyond the spectrum of usual suspects with demanding networking needs? To what extent do NRENs actually reach out to those less conventional? What about the NREN impact on society at large? Such pro-active inclusiveness can be challenging, as engaging with new user communities – particularly the less bandwidth-hungry and less network-savvy ones – is resource-intensive, yet with an immense community-building and societal potential. Drawing on concrete examples from Asia-Pacific the presenter had a direct involvement in, this talk will look at how NRENs have started to embrace this societal mandate by nurturing ‘fringe’ user communities, i.e. users at the margins of the core NREN constituency, yet with a huge impact potential, such as the infectious diseases community. The presentation intends to showcase that making such an investment in the ‘underdog’ will eventually pay off – in the interest of an inclusive global NREN community, securing kudos from national and international funders and ultimately arguing the case for R&E networking with a societal benefit trump card. This pitch successfully convinced the presenter’s children on what motivated their mother to increase her working hours – it is hoped that the talk at TNC18 will inspire members of the global NREN community to further reach out beyond the ‘traditional’ users.