Virtual Relationship Building

Thursday, February 13, 2014
I’m pretty sure every business and marketing class I’ve ever taken had a little something to say about the importance of relationship building. Relationships have changed through the years, much in the same way brick and mortar businesses have. As businesses embrace social media for marketing, it is important to also embrace a new type of relationship building – Virtual Relationship Building.
Most of the people I work with (authors doing blog tours, business owners promoting products and services, local businesses advertising on social media, etc…) are people I’ve never met. I use three key elements to help make our relationship as meaningful as it would be if we were neighbors.

Put a Face with the Name. This may sound unusual, but I need to know what you look like and I want you to know what I look like. I have pictures of myself and my family on my website and I’ve taken special care to choose the right pictures. My photos tell you a little bit about me as a mother, wife, and business woman. There are pictures on my desk in my office. They are not pictures of my family and friends, they are pictures of the ladies and gentlemen I am working with. I was taught that eye contact is very important and I like to look at you when I type something … hopefully this technique makes my emails more meaningful to you as well. (When I’m typing a blog post or something to a group, I picture a conference room filled with the people from my audience).

Provide Extra Value. We all enjoy receiving more than we expect (ie: the package that offers 20% more, the Christmas Bonus at work, etc…). I like to provide this in a virtual relationship as well. Since I can’t exactly take each of you out for coffee, I have to be more creative. If you ask me to read and review your book, I’m likely going to do just that and then…I’m going to tell my friends about it, run a giveaway on my blog and buy a copy for a follower, or post the review on multiple sites instead of just the one you requested. I don’t do this expecting to receive anything in return, it’s just plain good businesses and it’s how I would want to be treated.

Make Time. If a friend calls, you wouldn’t hit ‘ignore’ on your smart phone unless you were doing something super important, would you? I’d even interrupt a mani/pedi for a friend…but might let it go to voicemail if I were at the Dr. Office. Similarly, just because an email comes through ‘after hours’ or late at night, I wouldn’t let it wait until morning. You want to let people know they are important. I could tell you you’re important, but the best way to let you know is to SHOW you. I show people they are important by answering emails promptly, being available for questions, and by setting and adhering to deadlines. Of course, I’m not perfect and things happen…and communication is key. If I can’t get it done when promised, I’ll let you know what happened and set a new goal.
Of course last but not least is communication and since that is key in every relationship (virtual or otherwise) I won’t go into it. However, I’d like to hear from you. What do you do to make your virtual relationships as extraordinary as possible? Tell us what you like and dislike about virtual relationships you’ve had in the past – comments are awesome – thanks!

Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 6, Andre 5, Breccan 5 months), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at:


Unknown said...

I agree! Everybody wants to feel valued and appreciated and taking those extra steps makes all the difference :)

MotherhoodLooms said...

While it's most definitely important to appreciate your virtual contacts, be wary of answering emails just whenever. After all, business hours exist for a reason, and it's easy to forget them when you're working virtually.

Shary said...

In reply to the above comment, I am notorious for sending emails at 4am. I've never had issues getting replies and there isn't a difference between responses I receive when I email during business hours or ones I create after hours.

Cathy said...

I love the idea of having photos of the people you're working with on your desk! Most of what you mention is just plain good manners that people should carry from the 'real' world to the virtual one. Another one I'd like to add is to answer people's questions. You wouldn't just walk away from someone and ignore their question in the real world because it's rude. You'd give them an answer, even if it meant telling them no. The same should apply to virtual communication. People should not just ignore difficult questions. Thanks again for your tips!

Marilyn said...

A lovely post! I learned about the closeness a virtual relationship can bring through an online widows' group back in 2009. Caring about people is never wasted.

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