An example definition of
a person who is equal to another in abilities, qualifications, age, background, and social status.
this doesn't quite fit your criteria, because there is no implication of a connection between the individual and their peer and furthermore the definition of peer implies similarities between the individual and their peer, whereas your description explicitly states there may be differences.
One word you might consider is
a person known to one, but usually not a close friend.
the state of being acquainted or casually familiar with someone or something
This covers the fact that the person being referred to is known/connected to the person calling them an acquaintance and does not restrict this connection to be through a common job status, profession or industry. I have always thought that for someone to be an acquaintance of mine, I have to have met (or at least communicated with) them, although the dictionary definition does not appear to make this explicitly mandatory.
Another word you might be able to consider is
colleague, which is a synonym for
a person who shares actively in anything as a business, enterprise, or undertaking; partner; colleague; fellow worker
a companion or comrade
a confederate; an accomplice or ally
In my experience someone is usually referred to as a colleague if they share an employer (so work for the same company, business or organisation), but this is not strictly necessary for the word to be appropriate.
I hope that's helpful to you - I'm new to ELL so any feedback I could use to make future answers better is most welcome.