5 Tips for Building Professional Online Relationships

March 4, 2011 · Print This Article

This is a GUEST POST from Tom Walker over at CartridgeSave.
It's a different topic than I would write about, which I think is a good thing!

 

5 Tips for Building Professional Online Relationships

Decades ago, professional relationships were built and maintained face-to-face; however, continuously upgrading technology now makes it possible to have a professional relationship across the World Wide Web. While this may seem a bit impersonal to those that do not fully understand it, the internet can actually be a very useful tool when conducting business and maintaining business relationships.

The good thing about the internet is that anything can be done. You never have to meet someone in person in order to buy, sell or exchange a product or service.

The important thing to remember about engaging in professional relationships online is that trust is still a huge factor and has to be supported in everything that you do. Customers and clients alike believe in trust as a foundation of good business; trust is earned, however. How is it possible to establish a successful professional relationship online?

Become interested in your business prospects:
Here's the thing, if you have something to offer, you have to let people know about it. If you excel in a certain service or produce a magnificent product, start getting interested in business prospects with similar goals. You don't have to refer to them as "targets," though it is exactly what they are. You don't know them, they don't know you; you seek out business relationships based on what can be exchanged.

Take the time to get to know your prospects. Before you make any kind of contact with the person or company, it is beneficial to know at least the basics; minor research will do the trick.

Do not be afraid to reach out:
Companies or business prospects are very rarely the first to make contact. If you are seeking them out for a potential project or business deal, it's because you want it. If you want something, you have to initiate the first contact. It's not a huge deal and it doesn't have to be a production from the get-go.

In fact, most companies and business professionals operate on popular social networks. You can find most everyone and everything on either Facebook or Twitter. Facebook is becoming more of a professional playground each year. Don't be shy, reach out to start laying a foundation.

Set the foundation of friendship and trust:
You could just jump into a business deal, but where's the trust in that? What can you say in a Facebook wall post that will make a professional business person want to do business with you? It will take more time than that to develop an online working relationship. There is no face-to-face contact which eliminates some of the nerves of the meet and greet, but it also has its draw backs.

For instance, trust is harder formed online because there is a lack of personalism. It is the main reason why trust has to be established beforehand. Reach out on a level that is aside from professional endeavors; look for an opening to build a personal relationship before moving it to a professional relationship.


Build confidence and enjoy a relationship:
As you correspond over the internet, both parties may feel more comfortable and would prefer a face-to-face meet. This could be over a cup of coffee, or enjoying a hobby that you both share; another great reason to do background research on your prospects. You can highlight your talents at any entry level if you are developing a friendship, and it won't feel or be perceived as being forced. This kind of personal relationship can easily turn into a successful online professional relationship.


Fulfill the need:
Once you know your target and have become personally acquainted, you will feel more comfortable about taking a dive into the professional pool. At this point, you have developed at least a basic level of trust, which can help you succeed at a professional level.

If you are able to grasp a job opportunity, project or business deal, make sure you are able to comply 100 percent. You do not want to make the wrong professional impression after working so hard building up a personal one. If you fulfill the business needs of your contact, you will be asked to share more of the load in the future. Word of mouth is the best business representation, and it will take you places if you put in the effort from the beginning to the end.

Tom writes and is a reviewer on CartridgeSave, an online shop where shoppers can order printer cartridges and cheap ink cartridges.

  • What have been your experiences building online professional relationships?
  • Do you think it's hard or easy to do?

Comments

18 Responses to “5 Tips for Building Professional Online Relationships”

  1. Alan Petersen
    Twitter:
    on March 4th, 2011 6:08 pm

    Hey Peggy and Tom,

    Great tips Tom. That’s something I discovered over the almost four years I’ve been working from home that even as an online business it’s so important to build professional relationships.

    It’s tough to do without but it’s a trap we can fall into because we’re usually behind our computer monitors. Nice reminder.

    Alan

  2. Terry Conti on March 5th, 2011 3:31 am

    Hello Peggy,

    Thanks for this post Tom. I like what you said about trust is harder formed online because there is a lack of personalism so you just can’t go out and sell something or get someone to network with you right off the bat.

    Your opening to build trust can be just talking about the problem your product or service solves not mentioning what you do. Like if you are involved in heath, you can talk about the health problem your product solves.

    Once you have reached a level where you both know eachother pretty well and have a lot in common on what you have dicussed You can start introducing a perfessional relationship by asking open end questions.

    Terry Conti
    Terry Conti recently posted ..Don’t Lose Precious Free Traffic!

  3. Jon
    Twitter:
    on March 5th, 2011 12:40 pm

    This is gold:
    “Reach out on a level that is aside from professional endeavors; look for an opening to build a personal relationship before moving it to a professional relationship.”

    Spot on. The relationships that you nurture before making an offer are more receptive to the ask and likely to help promote your work (even if they don’t need your services themselves). We’re dealing with people here, folks, even online. It’s not a faceless web page and Buy Now button environment.

    People want to be heard. They want their fears, concerns, and needs addressed. They also crave a relationship with business owners and product developers.

    Thanks for the read…

    Jon
    Jon recently posted ..Will You Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance this Weekend

  4. Tom on March 7th, 2011 6:19 am

    Hi there Alan, Terry and Jon,

    Thanks for the feedback! It really helps to highlight the important parts of the article!

    It’s easier to sell your product when your client trusts you…that way, you can inspire confidence and your client knows that they will not be scammed or pushed aside in any way.

    @Alan You’re right, its easy to just stick behind the computer monitor…but unfortunately that makes it pretty easy for scam artists as well. When you go that extra mile it really makes a difference.

    @Terry Good idea! Highlighting the function and benefits of your product can keep the conversation professional and focused on what you’re there to do.

    @Jon Too true, people want to be seen and heard. They want to know that they can rely on being treated fairly. Who doesn’t? It’s all about the people.

  5. Sheila Atwood
    Twitter:
    on March 7th, 2011 3:27 pm

    Tom,

    Actually you have put together a magic formula for sales, both offine and online.

    The amount of time spent being interested in your prospects is 80% of the sell. You won’t even need to “close the sale”, it has already been made.
    Sheila Atwood recently posted ..Your Blog Scares The Hell Out of Me!

  6. Steve@Internet Lifestyle
    Twitter:
    on March 8th, 2011 2:32 pm

    Tom

    Nice article. Networking and really connecting is important to any success really. Both online and off. Many of your best business opportunities will come (or not come) because of who you know and connect with.

    IMO, Building trust and integrity are premium qualities for both peers and customers. You never know where your next opportunity will come from and by striving for the best in professional relationships you ensure your best chance at being successful in every endeavor.
    Steve@Internet Lifestyle recently posted ..How to Earn Full-Time Internet Income… Even if you Have a Full-Time Job

  7. Adrienne
    Twitter:
    on March 8th, 2011 4:08 pm

    Hey Tom,

    Enjoyed the post and I totally 100% agree with you. This is something I learned early on. I know sometimes it’s harder to build a trusting relationship online but if people read who you are and some of the feedback you receive from others, they will get a better feel for who you are as a person and how you may be able to help them. You also need to make yourself accessible via phone, Skype and other methods. It’s worked to my advantage so I’m thankful for that.

    Great reminder and enjoyed the post. Hope to see more from you.

    Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted ..How to Create an RSS Comment Feed to Facebook &amp Twitter

  8. Tom on March 9th, 2011 7:04 am

    @Sheila – Thanks! The great thing about the formula is that it’s pretty much universal. It’s all about the trust.

    @Steve – You’re right, you never really know what the future holds. It’s much better to have a solid relationship with someone because they might bring more opportunities your way…and having a good reputation is highly important.

    @Adrienne – Quite right, being more accessible shows you’ve got the time to listen and deal with people’s problems, and shows that you’re reliable and always there to back them up.

  9. Adam Paudyal @ endeavor online on March 9th, 2011 1:33 pm

    Tom and Peggy;

    Some very awesome tips here. Internet is the best invention ever (O: Thats the way i look at it. Just imagine life without internet nowadays!

    Not being afraid to reach out. Build confidence to set a great foundation of friendship and trust. Great insights!

    I was looking for a Tweet or Retweet button – couldn’t see it anywhere!
    Anyways, thanks for the great article. Appreciated!
    Adam Paudyal @ endeavor online recently posted ..Is Success Really Just A Head Game

  10. Mandy Allen
    Twitter:
    on March 10th, 2011 6:13 am

    This is the second blog post today that I have read about trust in business relationships. It is so important to build that trust, and when you find those people you can trust you should do everything you can to hold onto them!

    Enjoy the journey.

    Mandy
    Mandy Allen recently posted ..Why Use WordPress

  11. admin
    Twitter:
    on March 10th, 2011 7:02 pm

    Hi Adam – You must have come in via the home page and the buttons are not there. If you’d come in on the actual post, you’d see them as Sexy Bookmarks at the bottom. Note to self – reconfigure the plugin. :( Thanks for the heads up!

    Mandy – If you’ve seen 2 posts on the same subject today, then it’s speaking to you?? Although I don’t know what it’s saying to you because you’re one of the people I trust. :)

    Peggy

  12. PLR Mastery Blog on March 16th, 2011 9:42 pm

    Good tips Peggy! Being interested and fulfilling a need – two very important aspects of engaging and building the right kind of online relationships that will last and convert better in the end. One of the greatest mistakes of not getting traffic, subscribers, comments and conversions is that many are not being authentic and interested in their offers, their traffic and fulfilling a need that brought them to the their site/blog. It starts with being real and connecting to get the reward.

    Faith at http://www.plrmasteryblog.com

  13. admin
    Twitter:
    on March 16th, 2011 9:59 pm

    Hi Faith,

    Yes! “Being interested and filling a need.”

    Yes! “One of the greatest mistakes….. many are not being authentic and interesed in their offers”

    Yes! “It starts with being real and connecting to get the reward.”

    You said it well. Thanks for that. :)

    Peggy

  14. Dan on March 21st, 2011 5:08 am

    In the online environment it’s kind of hard to gain someone’s trust, especially for business purposes. Behind a screen, it’s easy to hide your real identity and to pretend to be someone else.

  15. admin
    Twitter:
    on March 21st, 2011 8:15 am

    Hi Dan,

    Yes, and that’s why it’s so important to come out and be your real self so you can show them who you are, what you represent, and how you can help them.

    Thanks,
    Peggy

  16. Tom on April 4th, 2011 1:02 pm

    @Adam: Thanks very much for the kind comments! I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without internet! It really is a remarkable tool and has connected such a vast number of people…it’s quite remarkable if you think about it.

    @Mandy: Trust is just about everything. No one wants to go into business with someone they believe to be untrustworthy…unfortunately we’ve got to look out for these things!

    @PLR Mastery Blog: Too true! You’ve got to be real…it just makes sense! People will feel that you’re an honest person, and will trust that you have nothing to hide.

    @Dan: It’s definitely difficult! Business is impossible without trust, so we have to try. It’s far too easy for people to fake, so you just have to be as consistent, straightforward and honest as possible.

  17. Lynda on June 10th, 2011 10:21 pm

    Peggy,
    This is a great guest post by Tom Walker. Building a relationship is key to success. You must gain trust from your readers and clients, you can’t do that if you don’t get to know them. Thank you for sharing :)
    Lynda recently posted ..The Cute Kid Coupon Code

  18. Kristina L. on July 12th, 2011 6:51 pm

    Hi, Tom-Hi, Peggy,
    I liked this post, as it deals with important issue on relationship building, and that is a topic in which we need to invest a lot of care and effort. Internet can sure be a useful tool for business conducting and maintaining relationships. If we want to reach out, we should not be shy-I like your enthusiasm in the approach here, because only by building mutual confidence, we will all benefit from it and earn professional recognition.
    Kristina L. recently posted ..Sheyna Jewelry Coupon Code

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