How to build powerful business relationships online

Aug 19, 2016 by
How to build powerful business relationships online

Some may envision entrepreneurs as lone warriors, standing against the elements and doing anything within their power to ensure their businesses are successful. While there is some truth to this romanticised ideal, working as a lone entrepreneur (or ‘solopreneur’) with no alliances can definitely make your mission more difficult. Instead, it’s a far better idea to cultivate powerful business relationships along your journey.

Good relationships can lead to business opportunities and new projects, but they can provide intangible benefits too, such as moral support in rough times and some much needed camaraderie. Although networking in the real world is highly recommended, you can definitely establish some great relationships online too. Here are some tips to make it happen!

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If the person you want to establish a relationship has their own blog (if they have notoriety in your niche, they probably do!), the best way you can start a relationship with them is by reading their work and leaving thoughtful comments. It’s important that you actually do read their work and tell them what you’ve learned from it – telling them that their post was great with no further elucidation is not going to work.

The more established a person is, the more savvy they usually are at determining when a person is trying to get something from them without offering anything back in return, so always be genuine. Providing someone with continuous, authentic validation for their work is a great way to get in their good books, as long as they don’t think you’re deliberately trying to get something in return. Sometimes, even disagreeing with them and posting your thoughts in a logical, constructive manner can actually help to establish a relationship. Most people who are passionate about their subject are happy to reconsider that they might be wrong about certain things, as it helps them to grow and evolve. Neil Patel, founder of Quicksprout, responds to most of the comments people leave and he tends to react positively whenever someone disagrees with him (so long as the criticisms are constructive rather than offensive).

Reach out on social media

When it comes to social media, particularly Twitter, don’t obsess over what an influencer can do for your business (give you exposure, provide you with connections etc.). Instead, adopt an altruistic mindset and aim to give as much value as humanly possible. This may entail retweeting their content, or you may wish to share links with them that you think they might find interesting. Either way, if you make a concerted effort to provide value over a long period of time, it’s likely to be reciprocated.

Entrepreneur Yaro Starak states that the law of reciprocity can be so powerful that if you’ve given enough value to a person, they will actually feel guilty if they don’t reciprocate! He says:

Reciprocity comes into play any time you do something for another person. I present on stage at an event, or do an affiliate promotion for someone, and that makes them much more likely to want to return the favour in the future. Reciprocity is so strong that people will often say “yes” to a request after you have helped them, just to not feel the sense of guilt that comes from refusing to help.

Meet them in person

As convenient as it is to interact with people online, you never really get a sense of who you’re dealing with until you meet them in person. The non-verbal cues you can read off a person in real life are not present online, so you get a much better feel for them as an individual. This is also critical for cementing positive online relationships. By meeting someone in person whom you’ve interacted with many times online, this helps them to add a face and a feeling to your (hopefully) positive online impression.

If you are at the same industry exhibition, go up and introduce yourself confidently and remind them of your online encounters. After you’ve spoken to one another, give them some space. Especially if they are a popular person in your niche, they’re probably going to have a lot of people coming up to them, so make sure you don’t monopolise their time. After you’ve met them for the first time, you can continue your relationship online and expect a more friendly, personal encounter the next time you meet. As with everything in business, the more you aim to give value selflessly, the more it will be returned to you in the long run!