Okay, not really, but you might notice a couple of parallels.
Because relationships are the thing in business and in life.
Fifteen years ago, I switched my major from history to computer science because I wanted to design online education applications. My advisor told me I was crazy because the Internet was only a fad…
She was mistaken.
The way we do business and relate to one another is worlds apart from back then.
Five Ways to Build Relationships Online
Before the Internet—and more recently social media—became an everyday part of life, businesses could get away with treating people like prospects and target audiences.
It was a numbers game, and few could play on a scale that translated into profit. Of course, we know the Internet leveled that playing field, and businesses haven’t been able to afford to think like that since.
Those that have are going, or already gone.
The good news is building great relationships with the right people for your business and life is completely doable.
Here is what I mean by the “right” people.
Once you identify your right people, here are a few tips you can use to start moving your marketing efforts toward a solid relationship building foundation today.
- Identify the people you want to speak to, with, and for. Back to this idea of finding the right people for your business (and life). You might wonder how life plays if we’re talking about business, but if you work as much as most entrepreneurs and business professionals I know, your values in life and business would typically align–if they don’t, why do it? I’ve met some of my dearest friends in life through business. It’s a natural result of speaking to the people who are right for your business and life.
- Speak to, with, and for them. Through your blog, social media platforms, newsletters, and other marketing channels, share your value and expertise with your ideal clients and customers (along with things that inspire, motivate, and excite them). Treat them like friends instead of clients or customers and watch them come back to you for more (bringing all their friends with them) time and again. Speak to and for them, not at them. Ask them what they think and want while you’re at it–and pay attention (and interact) with what they say. Speak with people you admire and thought leaders in your (or a complementary) industry by sharing their content (when it makes sense for your audience). Read and comment on their blog posts. Spotlight them on your blog (an interview or product endorsement, or book recommendation). You can support a cause that matters to them (and you), and even rally others to join you. All your “marketing” efforts are now an opportunity to influence, motivate, and inspire others. Use your power for good and watch your business resonate with your right people and GROW.
- Meet with them in-person and build relationships beyond online. I met one of my dearest friends online more than five years ago. She lives in Seattle and I live in Fargo. A few years ago, I took a trip to Seattle and showed up at one of her events. You should have seen her face when I walked up to her and introduced myself! We met for lunch and now every time I go to Seattle, we hang out. We regularly chat by phone to catch up and banter on social media every week. She’s always been an enormous supporter of my business, as I am of her, but more than that, she’s become a lifelong friend.
- Find creative ways to provide value, encourage, and show appreciation to and for the people. Meeting with them in-person is one way—there’s no greater gift than your time and people know it. But there are a gajillion other creative ways you can do do this. You can jot ideas down in a notebook and make a point to execute on one of your ideas each week. An idea might be as simple as writing an actual thank you card (or just because card). I have a traveling writer friend who sends postcards to her friends and clients from every city she visits while she’s making her rounds. Fantastic!
- One Final, Crazy Important Thing: Create an online culture that feels like home. Attracting and keeping the right people in your business and life, comes down to ensuring your website and social media presences are for them rather than simply a reflection of you and your business. Your brand should resonate with your people at the same time it communicates your unique value and vision. This is only possible when you spend the time to dig into what makes your right people tick. Find out what they need, want, and like. What resonates with, comforts, motivates, or inspires them? Armed with this information you can create an environment through your brand that lets them know (in their bones) they’ve landed in the right spot once they find you. They take a sigh of relief. You get them—they know you do at once—and the seed of loyalty has already begun to germinate as a result.
All of these things combine to create a foundation for your business that makes your products and services a no-brainer for your people.
Loyalty first, sales follow (and repeat business).
This model is not for the get-rich-quick, the only thing that matters is money business, that business won’t last because people expect more now, and they have options.
Someone willing to do the digging is one click away.
People do business with those they like, know and trust; you’ve heard it a million times by now.
Putting that knowledge into your business will help you make sure you’re able to build solid, lasting, and rewarding relationships with the right people for your business and life.
What’s better than that?
image credit: Norma and her Seattle friend, Lynn