It’s 2016. I can’t really remember the last time I went to a ‘networking’ event and handed out a business card. You know those meetings, right? Where everyone and their brother gets together after business hours, mingles, eats a few mini-weiners, has a couple drinks and works the room, looking for the right person to give their card to. Here’s my take on business networking 101 in 2016.

Become Someone Who Lives Social Media

I get asked, “how many times per day should I post on…” (enter social media platform here). That is the wrong question. Times per day doesn’t mean jack if what you’re posting and sharing isn’t relevant to the people you’re trying to connect with.

Some people view building their business via social media as a game that they don’t want to play. I get that. It’s easy to get frustrated when you feel the game changes so often with algorithm changes and the next new social media platform.

Change your mindset to see social media as the new reality and stop fighting it. Look around. Where is the attention of just about everyone around you? It’s on their mobile device. They wait in line…eyes on phone. They sit together at a restaurant…eyes on phones.

Being social is not something you just ‘do’ in order to be successful. It is something you must become. Be social. Understand that this is networking in 2016.

Add Tons of Value

Who is your ideal client? What do they give a crap about? Where are they hanging out? Social media is an incredible way to reach and help multitudes of people that need and want what you sell. Stop posting company news and stupid gifs. Put yourself in your clients shoes and consider what will grab their attention as they scroll through their feed.

Ryan Michler of Order of Man is doing just that. He’s created a brand that is helping men become better men. As you scroll through the feed of his Facebook Page you’ll see that he works hard to add value in the areas of relationships, fitness, career and so on. Everyday he adds value. Every single day he finds a way to not just ‘post’ but to make their lives better in some way. The result? His community is exploding and these men are paying and signing up for his men’s mastermind group.

Simplify Painting is also making some waves in the Colorado Springs area. This is a small, brand new painting company run by Kelsie Heermans. She knows her ideal client is the woman of the home. She knows that woman has a deep desire to make the house feel more like ‘her home’ and is looking for ideas and tips to turn four walls into a place that she feels proud of. Each day on Instagram and on Facebook (where the moms are) she  adds value by giving tips and ideas that are relevant to that mom who is making most of the decisions when it comes to the home.  The result? With only a couple hundred social connects as of this writing, she is selling painting jobs via Facebook Messenger.

Take the Time to Have Conversations

What good is to post stuff on your social media platforms and then not be social? You can have 10,000 followers…so what? If you’re not engaging and having conversations, then your’e not building relationships.

I personal have a relatively small membership list in the social media platforms that I engage in, but I make true connections, deepen relationships and make money.

Far too many entrepreneurs say they don’t have the time to be on social media. That’s BS. Make the time. You have time to watch Netflix and meet people for coffee or attend those lame-ass networking events. You will find the time when you understand that this is business networking 101 in 2016.

Tell Your Story

Who are you and why should I give a crap? People do business with those that they know, like and trust. That will never change. Social media is a way for that to happen.

Let us into your world. Give us a behind the scenes look at how your business runs. Share your thoughts on certain issues or answer common questions from your followers.

If I owned a flower shop I would grab my mobile phone and shoot a video of my staff putting together each order (or as many as I could keep up with) in the back room. I’d post it on my Facebook Page and Instagram feed and tag the client who ordered it with the hashtag #madewithlove or something like that.

Derek Johnson & Erin Tracy of JVI Secret Gardens in Nashville had a great Christmas Tree Season in 2015. As each family came to select their tree, the JVI team took a picture and posted on Instagram. The result? More people, more sales and a ton of fun with their clients.

business networking 101

JVI’s Instagram Feed

They took the time to tell their story.

My challenge today is for you to get your head right and see how business networking 101 has changed. Embrace it. It’s not going away, nor is is slowing down. Find a way to tell your story, add value and connect with people where they are at.