I had coffee with a new friend today. His name is Bruce Webb and he is a Real Estate Consultant at Coldwell Banker Preferred Realtors.

He’s what you’d call a mega-networker.

He runs not one, but two different monthly networking events in the Plymouth/Livonia area of Michigan. He also maintains a huge list of small businesses which provide services in that area. That way when he helps people move into their dream home, he is ready to provide them with access to any service they might need in order to feel more at home. I’ve got to imagine that anyone who works with him will be ecstatic with the results — at least if his skills as a real estate agent match up with his skills as a networker.

In the course of our talk he told me about one of the networking techniques he uses regularly. I thought it was a neat variation on some of the things we’ve talked about in the past. So, with his permission I am passing it along. It’s called a “Buddy Lunch”.

We’ve talked about doubling up on our one-to-one meetings — where you invite two people to join you for coffee or lunch. Buddy lunches are similar. In this case, it starts with you and your “buddy” — usually someone in your network who is either at or very close to the “trust level” with you. The two of you decide on a day to get together for lunch. Then you each find a guest to bring to the lunch whom you think the other would benefit from knowing.

Of course, you need to communicate to try to avoid bringing two guests from the same industry to the table. Other than that, though, the buddy lunch gives you an opportunity to further strengthen your ties to the two people you already know and get a chance to meet a new person who you are likely to want to meet. Also, with four people at the table, any given person will already know one other person there so they can avoid the discomfort of eating at a table of complete strangers. You’re also a lot less likely to have an uncomfortable lull in the conversation.

Personally I can’t wait to try out this technique. The chance to build new relationships and strengthen old ones make this a remarkably effective networking opportunity. I’ll let you know how it goes for me.

Thanks, Bruce!