Turning Online Connections Into Real-Life Relationships

Making connections via social networkingMaking connections via social networking is difficult, especially for businesses who are trying to leverage social media for sales. Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media isn’t second nature for most people, and to make it work takes time and effort. When you do it right, however, real connections and raving fans can happen from engaging your followers on social networking sites.

In my business, we have made these connections happen in real life. It isn’t always easy, and getting a social media follower to pick up the phone and reach out to your business can be hard if all you’ve ever done is exchanged a tweet or had them like one of your Facebook posts.

The point is to get to a place where the online connection becomes mutually beneficial in real life. Here are a few examples of how this can work.

1. New interactions
You likely already have a handful of connections via social media that you would love to connect with for your business. If you’ve never reached out to them, how do you break the ice with a person you’ve never met but would like to?

Proven Method: Do your research on the person first (not stalking), and then slowly begin developing a relationship with them through online interactions.

You can do this by following their posts and moves in social media a little more closely than you would if you had no intentions of meeting them in person. You’ll want to try and find out what their interests are and who else they interact with. After your research is done, answer a question they’ve posted or ask them one. Social sites like LinkedIn are great for this due to the great conversations that often take place between colleagues.

2. Asking a favor from an online acquaintance
This would be a person you may not know very well but have occasionally spoken with. You could even mention that this person just started working at a company you’ve been trying to reach out to do business with.
Proven Method: Build the initial conversation around anything you can do for them instead of what they can do for you to avoid any feelings of resentment.

Take a peek at the other company’s online and social media presence. Then look at your acquaintance’s profile as well. What could you do to benefit that person and the company as a whole? Tell the person in black and white how you can help them achieve their goals as you see it.

Once you answer those questions, you should be able to easily start a conversation regarding how that person can also help you get your foot in the door. Then, it’s not them doing you a favor – you are mutually benefitting each other. If you can approach the situation from that person’s perspective, you can be certain that they will be more open to developing the relationship further and to helping you out. This can be something as simple as cross-promoting each other’s social media content.

3. Flagging down influencers online
Social media websites like Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter may be some of the only sites where you have the opportunity to connect with people who have real expertise and experience in certain industries. As a social media user, you have the ability to reach out to industry influencers, founders and CEOs, and many other important people on your list of people whose attention you want to get. The trick is to finding the right way to go about it.
Proven Method: Pay attention to their social media activity and get to know them on a more personal level so you have something to talk about.

Think about it. That person likely gets up to thousands of posts or tweets a day depending on who they are. That means you have to find a way to stand out. Really dig in and find out which topics they are influential in and what their opinions are on those topics. If you have recently read an article that is relevant to something they may be interested in, send it directly to them. If you see that the person is quoted in an article or write-up, read it and comment on it. You could even congratulate them for snagging such a cool featured spot. If possible, the best way to flag down an influencer and get their attention is to figure out a way you can help or provide value to them in some way.

Ultimately, developing real life relationships from social networking is complex. But, if done right and with good timing, you can turn these social media connections into valuable relationships in your business. Remember, just like in real life, it’s about all about genuine relationships!

Grif Blackstone is the president of Blackstone Media Group, a full-scale web design and marketing company and publisher of the Good News, the largest Christian newspaper in Florida. Grif has helped hundreds of businesses build an effective brand identity to help them communicate who they are to their target market. Writer, speaker, and consultant, Grif is known as the “Efficiency Guru” for technology and business and is a coffee fanatic. Contact him at: [email protected] or 954-323-6737

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