Face the facts. If you don’t spend some time with people in real life, face-to-face, you’re not going to close business or cultivate relationships. The real power of live networking is the eye contact, the firm handshake, the sound of a confident voice, and the old-school…but still de rigueur…exchange of business cards.

But that’s the old world of business networking. Today, it’s a process that’s more akin to marketing. This is the process of incorporating all the established means of communications and adding the social and electronic features of today’s fast-paced world. Essentially, you’re promoting yourself, your business and your presences via marketing processes.

As an example, where your business card with phone, fax and Website used to be enough, presenting yourself the right way requires you have social sites, handles and maybe even a QR code on your card.

Where the standard social conversation used to be focused on finding out about the people you’re meeting so you can determine whether they’re right for your pitch…the world has changed. Everyone is right for your pitch and that means you can never burn a bridge or neglect a contact.

This levels the playing field immensely and puts good interpersonal skills back into play because power could rest with anyone in the room. Who can say what a VC looks like? Who can tell if the guy you just cut in line at the bar is the head of communications for a local agency? And you can never tell who knows whom in the connected world.

I’d like to leave you with three tips for marketing appropriately.

1. Remember there’s no easy way to see who knows whom, so treat everyone with respect. This doesn’t mean to tolerate jerks, but doing it correctly requires that you take a little more time before writing anyone off.

2. Get ALL your materials in order. Your Website, business materials, elevator pitch and social presence must work in conjunction. And make yourself easy to find. Give some real thought to product and company naming conventions. Don’t be cute – be straightforward and available. One lost client due to confusion of mission or URL is too many. Be smart about your marketing.

3. Finally, learn what every journalist knows. Listening is the best path to learning. When you’re talking, you’re not listening. It’s the dilemma of all sales people…they feel as if they must talk constantly to sell a product. It’s not true. The best listeners get the inside track on what a potential client wants and therefore can spend less time delivering these things. Today’s marketing approach may be the renaissance of listening – make it work for you.

Got a marketing strategy you’d like us to write about? Got questions on what you’re doing right or wrong? Send us your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.