I’m a big fan of platitudes. My wife says I overuse them, but honestly for me it’s the only way to live 😉

This is my favorite of all time…”It’s not about what you know…it’s WHO you know!”

The phrase above has helped me earn over one third of my income from networking. And as time goes on, more tools arise that will help me make MORE and today I want to show you the tools I use…and HOW I USE THEM!!

SKYPE: It’s the only way to communicate!

If you don’t have skype (add me brad.stafford928) you’re missing out on a chance to have regular contact with business partners ALL OVER THE WORLD! On any given day I probably ‘skype’ with upwards of 40 people. Sometimes hours of talking business, sometimes just a few lines to say hi. Having the ability to quickly reach-out, set up business deals, and make sure people know you’re around will make ALL the difference when those people need something from you…or you need something from them.

Skype is also huge for speed of communication. You can see when someone’s online, active, and you can chat them up to quickly get things taken care of. Almost everyday I’m able to get things I need faster then email could ever deliver. “Hey can you get me the stats on the last email campaign? BOOM STATS! What’s the latest with the blog post? BOOM LATEST WITH POST…

If you don’t have Skype, get signed up. If you DO have Skype, then make sure you’re available to people so doors stay open.

Overall it’s the most powerful communication and networking tool available.

Facebook: Behind the scenes.

One thing I learned as a young salesmen was to ‘know your customer’. For me, that meant taking time to deal with a person on a PERSONAL level…not just trying to convince them to buy whatever I was selling. If I’m able to know that person beyond how I can sell them, they’ll remember me, tell their friends…and buy from me again.

Same is true with networking. I’ve had friends and contacts in the industry that I’ve NEVER done anything with…but I’m not closing that door, and I’m NOT going to miss an opportunity to know that person so when something comes up I’ve built a relationship. Facebook allows me to know that person beyond their business life.

I can see and interact with them on a regular basis, comment on their pictures, like their links, and develop a relationship beyond the normal business. Being friends with people on Facebook has lead to a few business deals that I would have never gotten if I wasn’t GENUINELY building a friendship.

It can also be a great way to waste time…so make sure you’re on a mission every time you login!

Twitter: What’s really important to them?

You can follow so many people, and most of the tweets are stupid (expect for the people I follow who only tweet great stuff ;)), but what you find is that people actually tweet personal stuff and opinions. It’s a great way to get to know people on a business level because that’s what they’re tweeting more often then not. They’re tweeting new blog posts, biz partners links, etc etc…and that’s how to get to know them!

Twitter is also a good way to AVOID bad networking deals….I started following someone who would be a great affiliate partner for a new client after seeing some other’s RT’ing him. So I started to follow him, read what he’s tweeting about, then decided that although he had a good following he wouldn’t be right. If I would have just started contacting him as soon as I saw people retweeting him I would have been spinning my wheels!

You want to follow quality people, get to know their tweets to see if there’s a business match, and ABOVE ALL ELSE avoid staring at the stream… you might not get other projects done!

LinkedIn: Biz lead gen 🙂

I honestly use LinkedIn just to build my ‘people I know’ list. Sure it’s an online resume, sure there are a lot of people using it, but what does LinkedIn provide that Skype, Facebook, and Twitter don’t??? You can know that when you contact someone via LinkedIn you’re message is heading right to their ‘best’ email. Often times the email listed on someone’s site, might not be the most direct way to contact them. LinkedIn is built to connect to a person’s personal email addy so when/if they leave a company their resume and connections stay with them. This is CLEARLY open to people putting in bad emails, or 3rd tier email addresses, but I’ve found most people put their best in there.

Another fringe benefit is the ability to ‘connect’ with people via a friends connection with a person. I myself have only done this a few times as it often doesn’t pan out, or it’s easier to go right to the source and contact that person directly.

Use to connect with new biz leads, then contact them personally to build relationship if it’s looking like a winner!

Alright, there’s my 2 cents…your’s will be read by thousands in the industry so comment away!