Yesterday we talked about some ways to be more efficient with our networking time. One of the methods I listed was doubling up on your one-to-ones. This would be the practice of setting up a coffee or lunch with more than one person. Now, you don’t want a whole horde at the table, but one additional person can be very workable.

Of course, you’ll also want a reason to bring these two other people together. You can’t just pick two people at random from your network and expect it to be a productive gathering. So, what are some of the reasons you might set a one-to-one-to-one?

Referral. If one of your networking contacts has a need that another one can fulfill, then it might be good to get them together. Of course, you don’t want to turn it into a sales meeting. That would be uncomfortable for all. Instead, you might ask the knowledgeable contact to advise the other person on how to select a professional to meet their need.

Secondary knowledge. This is similar to the “Referral” reason in that you are hoping that one of the contacts can help the other. In this case, though, the need might be in an area which isn’t directly related to their business. For example one of the guests might be a world traveler and might be willing to give some advice to the other guest who is planning his honeymoon in Europe.

Common target market. If the two guests have businesses which serve the same clientèle, but they don’t compete, then they should definitely get to know each other. Each can be a good source of referrals to the other. A great example of this would be almost any two people who serve the wedding industry. Introduce the photographer to the florist and they can help build each others business.

Introduction. This one is a little different. In this case, you are asking one of your connections to introduce you to one of their connections. In this case, you are definitely going to be in your connection’s “Trust” circle. This will definitely be them lending you their reputation. You have to be careful that the reason you are doing this isn’t purely a sales call, but that the meeting would result in some benefit beyond you. For example, perhaps you would like a particular member of the community to serve on the Board of a charity that you support.

I’m sure there are other good reasons for bringing three people together over lunch or coffee. The best of them, of course, are where all three gain some benefit from the new association. So, start looking through your address book. Find those connections that you can initiate. Not only will you extend their networks, but you will also strengthen the ties you already have with them.

Sounds like a win all around.