Forwarding is the New New Business Networking Strategy

It wasn’t that many years ago that you’d send snail mail that included an article with a note attached that read something like this,

Saw this and thought you’d enjoy it.

The approach was simple and effective. It showed that you were thinking of a friend, colleague, prospect or client and wanted to send them something that they probably hadn’t seen on their own. The recipient appreciated the thought and effort you took to stay in touch and provide them something of value.

Yesterday I read a post by Tom Davenport in Harvard Business Publishing (click here to read), which suggests that this tried-and-true networking strategy is alive and well. (It’s good to know as I haven’t stopped doing it.) Of greater interest to me, though, is that it’s a natural addendum to my last post.

Naturally, snail mail is just about a thing of the past, so we’re talking about forwarding information of value via email. The trick is do it as personally as you would were sending snail mail, which is a good way to ensure you don’t cheapen the impact of your efforts.

Here are three “rules of thumb” that Tom suggests we keep in mind:

  1. Only offer information of value. You need to know the people in your network well enough to know what they value, and what they don’t.
  2. Selectively forward information. Just as you would with snail mail, think carefully about who will benefit from the information you’ve found. Be sure it’s relevant.
  3. Never forward to a long list of people. Doing so depersonalizes the impact and networking value of your action.

There’s no silver bullet here, just common sense things to keep in mind. Forwarding information has never been easier (think “retweet”). My suggestion is to remember “snail mail” before hitting “send” on an email blast.

If you didn’t have the convenience of email, who would you send this information to? Let that drive your new business networking efforts.


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