We're living in an interesting paradox - despite the advancement of technology and tools built to help save us time ... our time is actually becoming more scarce

We have more responsibilities to uphold, decisions to make, and goals to meet. And for those of us who value networking, we must find some way to allocate the remainder of our precious time to building that network. Question is - how?

For me, it comes down to thinking objectively. 

Whether I'm at a networking event, searching LinkedIn, or reading a referral email, I always follow the Rule of 3.

  Rule of 3:

The Rule of 3 requires us to define three strong purposes, benefits, or reasons for pursuing a connection. 

The Rule of 3 allows me to build connections worth investing in. 

Let's say I go to a party hosted by my company, The Good Ones, in hopes of adding new people to my network. I have a brief conversation with the following three individuals. 


Tommy is a young professional who:

  • Attended a top grad school.
  • Requested to meet hiring managers before getting to know me.
  • Was very quiet and reserved in conversation.


Andrew is a graduate student who:

  • Works at a mid-size technology company.
  • Was dressed very stylish and trendy.
  • Is passionate about nonprofit involvement.


Courtney is a seasoned professional who:

  • Has 10+ years of experience in Eastern Medicine.
  • Warm and open when initiating conversation.
  • Enjoys mentoring young professionals.


Based on my three rules, it's clear to me that Tommy is least fit for my professional network, while Courtney is the best fit. Here's why  -  

1. Relevance: Eastern Medicine has become a trend not only in the world, but one that I'm particularly interested in. 

2. Shared Value: I have a decent number of people in my network focused on Eastern Medicine who could benefit from her mentorship and experience.

3. Personality Fit: Our mutual warmth and open-mindedness gives us the opportunity to connect on a deeper level; and real connections create greater value for everyone involved.  

By finding three strong reasons to connect with Courtney, I'm ensuring that this relationship is a valuable investment of my time.

Regardless of what the three rules end up being (academics, industry, professional title, hobbies, travel experience, etc.), the Rule of 3 is a great starting point for training our eye to detect potential beneficial relationships.  

And remember -- building relationships should be both enjoyable and productive. Have fun with it!

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Originally published Jan 22, 2015 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


Networking for Sales