The A,B,C’s of networking

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Last weekend I was in Vancouver for the Western Canadian Top Investor Awards hosted by Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine. It was a fantastic event with hundreds of Real Estate investors, service providers and other professionals.

The event was broken down into two major rooms:

1.            A room stage

2.            A room with a trade show

I attended the event with a friend of mine. My friend is a Real Estate investor who started his career this year in July. My friend has done very well for himself and has already acquired a handful of properties in record time. His rapid action and success have earned him a nomination for an award at the show in the category for “Newcomer of the Year” – very impressive indeed.

To myself, the show was rich and abundant with opportunity. Absolutely everyone I needed or wanted to know was at the show. There was ample time for networking, looking at new markets, new business models and creating connections. The event had tremendous value to me.

What I found interesting was that my friend did not see the same kind of opportunity.

I saw tremendous opportunity in every person I met at the show through potential future relationships or contacts. To me, the show was a great way to find industry players, form relationships and create value for everyone.

My friend did not perceive the show the same way. He did not see the same level of opportunity and could not see the connections.

Were we attending the same show?

Physically, we were attending the same show. Mentally, we were not in the same universe.

I have been to countless events this year, and since June, I have really sharpened my networking skills.

However, If I had attended the trade show 6 months ago, I would not be able to see or find opportunity in the room.

What changed?

My friend, who could not see the immediate opportunities was essentially looking at the room through the eyes I had 6 months ago. He is a novice networker, has no system for networking and lets all of the opportunity slip through his fingers.

My friend walks in the room, says hello, smiles, introduces himself and expects opportunity to fall into his lap.

Unfortunately, the world does not work this way.

In reality, we have to create connection, create value, create opportunities and create relationships much like we create great deals. Great deals are not “found” or “bought” they are made. The same is with relationships and networking.

How many people do we know who are on the dating circuit who are running around trying “Find the right person”? In reality, a relationship with the “right person” is right in front of them in people they interact with everyday. The “right person” is merely a great relationship with ANY PERSON made over time. There is no such thing as Mr. or Mrs. Right, you have to find a “Mr or Mrs. Good enough” and develop the relationship into “Mr. or Mrs. Right”. This is how effective relationships are made.

Business, dating and networking are all the same. We must create and engineer our own opportunity.

Networking is an extremely complex subject that is made up of many moving parts. Everything from dress code, etiquette, 3-second approach, 30 second commercial, triangulating introductions, when and how to give out a card etc. are all subjects for great study. However, today I will focus on sorting.


When I approach a room to network and meet people, I like to sort them into “bins”. For myself, I am a real estate investor and there are generally three types of people that I meet: A’s, B’s and C’s.

·      A’s are people who have money or access to money. They are likely very successful and accomplished in a field of choice. These are potential money partners or have access to potential money partners in the future.

·      B’s are people who have deals or access to deals. They are also successful in their field and can be potential deal partners in the future.

·      C’s are people who have no money and no deals. These people may or may not be successful and are potential fans. Fans are people who like you, like your products, like what you do but will likely never become a customer. Fans are very important because if you utilize them effectively, they spread your circle of influence and exponentially grow your network. These people can be great connectors and in some ways they are the most valuable. They can also graduate into the A or B categories in the future.

After you get good at introductions and talking to a new person for for 5 minutes or less, you can quickly estimate which “bin” to categorize your prospect into.

NOTE: I want to make it very clear that I am not placing value judgments’ on these types of people and that A’s, B’s and C’s are all very important for my business. I categorize people so that I know what I can offer to them to connect, bring value to them and form relationships.

It’s very important that you can put a new prospect into the appropriate bin because a conversation with an A will be different than a C. These people are all looking for different things.

For example, an A with money is looking for a place to put his money. It may be appropriate to ask him where he has placed it in the past and why. It may also be appropriate to mention how I generate returns for investors and get verbal permission to contact him in the future when I have a great deal looking for funds. It may also be appropriate to discuss none of the above and “start slow” with the relationship. Etiquette is very important when courting money and you have to play this by ear.

If I encounter a “B” player, it may be appropriate to ask him about the kinds of deals that he has in his inventory. Find out about his market and his product. I may do some research on his market in the future and find out if I want to be bring my business into his niche later. I may have connections that he is looking for and may offer him some of my connections.

If I encounter a “C” player, it may be appropriate to ask him where he wants to be in the future and discuss ways I can help him get there. Does he want to be an active investor or passive investor? Is he open to purchasing training, coaching or mentoring? C players may or may not be looking for information and I may connect them with my blog or another information source to help them become a B or A player in the future. I will integrate these people into my social media programs to stay in touch because some of the best deals I have ever done have come from “C” players. These people may become fans and provide invaluable social capital to your organization.

TIP: Follow up for the A’s, B’s and C’s will be different because they are all looking for different things. 95% of people fail to follow up at all after a networking event. If you have a good sorting system, you can send each type of person an appropriate follow up channel and bring value to them on an ongoing basis.

It takes all types; A’s, B’s and C’s to make a successful business. A’s provide money, B’s provide deals and C’s provide social support. I have become a firm believer that every type of person can contribute value to my organization and have found a way to provide value to everyone and in return see opportunity in everyone I meet.

If I could change one thing about the event on the weekend, it would be lack of C players in the room. There was a ton of A and B players (which is fantastic) but hardly any C players. Although many investors do not like C players because they think they are a waste of time, I find them to be the most valuable in many ways because of the indirect opportunities that come from bringing them into my network.

Your skill as a networker, in my opinion, is gauged by your ability to bring value to any person in any situation.

6 months ago, I had no system for sorting or follow up and I could not find opportunity in a room packed with of people. Now, I can see the opportunities that most people miss and it’s all because I have spent time studying networking and have created ways to connect and bring value to A’s, B’s and C’s.

Since implementing this type of sorting system, I have seen exponential success in my business and have made my life easier by leaps and bounds. I would recommend that you study the ABC’s of networking and find ways to bring value to everyone, regardless of their status in the alphabet.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Aarnio

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