Networking is the process of creating mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships. Given that, it isn’t something that you can do quickly. There is a series of steps which you must follow. Only a Bad Networker tries to skip ahead. The steps are:

  1. Awareness: This is when the other person recognizes you face and name and maybe your company name. They probably know you well enough to say hello if they see you walking down the street, but unlikely any more than that. Business at this level is highly unlikely.
  2. Relationship Building: While you can achieve the “Awareness” level at almost any networking event, developing a relationship with another person requires something more. This means getting together for coffee or lunch. This means finding out more about them as a person. This means finding out ways to help them and, you guessed it, actually doing the helping. Business is possible at this level, but still not very likely.
  3. Trust: This is where we, as good networkers, want to be. All things being equal, people will do business with those they know, like, and trust. To get here, though, you need to have shown your consistent reliability and commitment to the other person.

So there we have it, the A.R.T. of networking. In many ways good networking is an art, but those of us with a technical mind (OK, “nerds”) can discern systems and techniques which turn this process into a more step-by-step mechanism for future fun and profit.

So, what kind of networking opportunities do you participate in?