Networking tips focus too heavily on getting new connections. The rest is impersonally called ”follow-up.” For many this means: schmooze, try to do business, and if you can’t…next! That’s transactional and frankly it’s sad. As a business owner, you need trustworthy connections and partners. True networking is relationship-building, valuing each encounter, and win–winning. You can do this, and it won’t take much time with the right mindset and tools.

Get to know the data and the person behind it

When you first made contact with your counterpart, you might have known a bit about them. As you swapped business cards or at least connected on LinkedIn, you found out valuable info: their email, job title, URL, etc. You put them into your CRM or contact management system. But then what? This part is the real networking. You’ve got the baseline information exchanged when you first met. Now you get into their life. Not in a creepy way, rather as a useful and positive peer.

Communicate where and how they like to communicate.

LinkedIn is the default “business social network” (about half the US and 575 million globally are on there) and you’ll soon find out if your counterpart is a heavy user. They’ll be on there everyday, posting/reposting/liking, congratulating, and even authoring. Great! Read what they write and interact when you have something to contribute. A substantive comment makes a much better impression than a thumbs up or “nice post!”. However, many businesspeople, especially non-Westerners, barely check LinkedIn. They use it like an online resume or forget they have an account. These folks may be tied to their Outlook or Gmail. Or they may like the speed and brevity of WhatsApp or Skype. They may even prefer a quick call.

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