If you own a business (or even if you work for someone else), the foundation of your success (and this applies to everyone around the world) is solid relationships with the people who you eventually want to buy what you are selling. If you have a relationship with someone with whom you spend in-person time, it is often easier than if you have an online relationship with that person.
The necessity to build solid online relationships
When it comes to your social media circles, you probably have hundreds (or even thousands) of online connections among the various social media channels of which you belong. People ask to connect with you and you ask to connect with other people. Before you know it, you have built up a significant list of connections. The question is whether you are truly connected to those people and exactly what your connection with them is.
There is no doubt that having a strong and prominent online presence will be very good for you professionally. If you have that, other people will start to pay attention to your brand and your offerings. They will start to notice what you stand for and they will want to connect with you and interact with you if what you believe and what you write resonate with them. In many cases, those online connections are not local to you (geographically speaking). If you want to get to know those people, the only way to do it is online. The truth is that having a relationship with someone online is very different from having an in-person relationship with a person. In many respects, online takes a lot more effort.
How to begin
If you are in a situation where your only option is an online relationship, you may not know where to start. Well, first of all, you need to start interacting in some way. A great way to get the ball rolling is by sharing valuable, well-written, helpful content with the other person. You may not have a clear understanding from the start about the issues that the other person is experiencing. If that is the case, it will most likely be revealed shortly. That is definitely the approach that you will want to take in your online relationship with that person.
You should be driven by the concept of “WIIFM?” (What’s In It For Me?) In other words, no matter how wonderful, knowledgeable, and effective you and your business are, if you are not able to solve the other person’s problems, don’t even bother to attempt to build a relationship with the other person. The good news is that you can probably accomplish that and the other person will never forget what you did for him or her. That is exactly how a solid, meaningful relationship begins. If you happen to be close to each other geographically, you may have a relationship that is a mix of online and in-person. However, if not, don’t worry about it. You can still have a meaningful relationship that will endure and that is mutually beneficial.
The chances are really good that once you have posted relevant, meaningful content, the other person will react to that content in some way. If you post an article, the person may wish to share some thoughts.
Another way to jump start the interaction is by posing a thought-provoking question. That is an excellent way to get other people to respond. It can lead to an animated, extremely stimulating discussion and it may also be a wonderful source for ideas for future postings. That should be a part of your overall strategy.
Quality over quantity
Let’s discuss LinkedIn as an example. Maybe you have 500 connections on LinkedIn. If you sustain that number but you actually only have a relationship with 10% of that number, what good does the 90% do for you or for your business? You are better off having a relationship with a number of people that is closer to reality. If you are connected to 50 people and you interact with all 50 people regularly (or even semi-regularly), that is saying a great deal. You are doing well in that case. Of course, that number is only an example. You should connect with a comfortable number of people. After all, you want to retain that number. Some of those relationships may be in-person and some may be online. As long as you put in the effort to continue the relationship in each case, it doesn’t matter how you interact with those people.
Your online relationships are just as important as your in-person relationships. They require the same amount of time and effort and you will get back just as much as you put in. Online relationships will drive a lot of your business and you will begin to see that there is no obstacle in the way just because you don’t see the person face to face. As long as you are genuine, sincere, and you connect with the other person on an emotional level, you will enjoy a successful relationship together. Also, if your strategy is solid and relevant, you will succeed with all of the relationships that you choose to develop.