Your personal network of actual humans (as opposed to Tweeple and 'sort-of-Facebook-friends') who know you, know what you do and how good you are doing it, is an often undervalued asset.
No matter how impressive your resume or how many comments you got from that photo of a sunset, what continues to really matter in this world whether it comes to getting a new job or winning a new contract or gaining that promotion you so richly deserve is -- who you know!
So, whether you like it or not, building your network is an essential part of your job.
Those people who know you are so much more than just a group of friends. They are more than just your personal brand. They are your unofficial sales team.
These people will pick up the phone -- today -- and tell someone else how great you are. They will spread the word about how cool your product is. They will share with others that your service is worth buying. I call this the power of the "Golden Testimonial." Nothing in the way that you market yourself is more powerful than the word of a trusted friend.
This is why, at every opportunity, you absolutely need to build your network.
Given these facts, how can you go about turning everyday chance meetings and business connections into long-lasting and profitable new relationships?
One great method to use, which will score several points in a number of key areas, is known as the "3R's of networking."
Let's say you've been out at a conference or a meeting and you've met someone who might well be of use to you within your network. You had a nice chat, you exchanged business cards and you both go on your merry ways.
Within one week of this new connection, this other person will actually forget you! Yes, I know it's hard to believe but people will forget you even though you are quite brilliant!
So it is imperative that you deploy the 3R's of networking to ensure that you are never forgotten and you actually make something of this new connection.
The "3 R's" are "Radar, Recall and Reward."
The first thing you want to do is reach out within seven days of first meeting them and put yourself on the radar. A simple e-mail will suffice, reminding them that you exist.
"Dear John, it was a pleasure meeting you at (insert event name here)." (Because he's already forgotten!)
Now comes the second R -- Recall. People absolutely love it when you remember something they said to you and repeat it back to them -- I'm sure there is some simple human psychology behind this, but it's worth knowing and very much worth deploying.
In your conversation with this person, he happened to mention that he was quite a fan of sushi...
"...I remember that you mentioned your love of sushi restaurants and I wanted to send you something that I thought you would find useful..."
And now here comes the third R -- Reward!
"This is a link to a website which is dedicated to new sushi restaurants opening up in your area, I thought you would like it.
Let's stay in touch,
All the best..."
The beauty of the "3 R's" approach is that you are not asking for anything and you are not selling anything; you are merely putting yourself on the radar, reminding them that you exist, recalling something they've said and then giving them a reward for no reason!
At the very least, this approach to networking will get you a reply. However, at the most you might end up with a significant new revenue stream for your business or someone who might connect you with key people in your future.
Making connections is something we should all do everyday but having a plan and a strategy at the ready to leverage those connections will always pay dividends.
Follow Mark Jeffries on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markjeffries1