It’s important to build your network before you need it!
Building a network of organization supporters who can do a variety of things at a moment’s notice is imperative in today’s socially networked world.
Transactions Versus Relationships
Unfortunately, many organizations struggle with relationship building. Instead, they are masters of the transaction. Their emphasis on transactions is often at the expense of cultivating relationships.
Successful organizations are integrating relationship building with their traditional transactional processes. They understand that cultivating strong online relationships leads to customer loyalty.
Tips For Building Online Relationships
It takes constancy and practice to cultivate an online relationship. Ultimately, organizations want to build relationships to help others move from awareness to action.
Here are several tips to help foster online relationships.
1. Go Ahead And Lose Control!
Yes, losing control is more important than trying to obtain it. Did you ever really have the control?
In the digital world, the power has shifted from organizations to people. That’s a good thing, especially for organizations that want to connect as many people possible to their mission and cause.
Here’s the reality. Spending time trying to control what other people do and say is counterproductive. People in social networks will continue to march to their own drum.
2. Invest In Karma Banking
CauseWired author Tom Watson coined the phrase karma banking. Karma banking is sending and sharing good things with others without expecting an immediate return. It’s fostering long term social capital and building relationships.
By its very nature, social media pulls news, conversations and activity away from organizations and into networks. This is the exact opposite of what many organizations try to do by being the sole source of information.
The highest compliment an organization can receive is “You’re a great sharer.” That’s better than you’re a hoarder of information.
Watson says that karma banking has a boomerang effect. When an organization needs support in the future, they can turn to their storehouse of trusted online relationships.
3. Wear Rose Colored Glasses For Your Relationships
The foundation for cultivating strong online relationships is the belief that people are good, sincere and trustworthy. At their very core, people want to help.
Organizational leadership needs to adopt an attitude that people are naturally good and helpful. Showing some humility and being able to ask their networks for help actually strengthens their relationships.
4. Don’t Fondle The Hammer, Foster The Friendship
Social media tools cannot start a relationship. Only people can.
Don’t get enamored with the social technology tools at the expense of the relationship. The tools are devices that can support communications and connections.
A one-size-fits-all friendship doesn’t work. Long term friends have a different level of connectedness than a new Facebook friend. Yet both have value.
Don’t judge your online relationships by their time involved with your organization. If their personal circumstances don’t allow them to engage, let them know you’ll be there when their ready.
Many social networks have their own rhythms and ebb and flow. It’s not something an organization can control, dictate or manipulate.
Sometimes those networks have a low level of activity. Sometimes they require more nurturing.
The important thing to remember is that while the organization is engaging in networking, it is also building trust and rapport.
How does your organization recognize influencers on social media spaces who care about your organization and its issues? What are some ways your organization communicates in social media?