Building Online Relationships

Raven VasquezIt’s my first post of 2013 and I want to introduce a new focus here. In planning for the coming year, I realized I was thinking a lot about relationships. This is predictable, since building relationships is central to marketing and I help my clients with online branding. But what I’ve been thinking about lately is how crucially important relationships are to virtual assistants.

It may be good to purchase a product from someone you ‘know, like, and trust’ but it’s not strictly necessary that you feel these things when making a material purchase. A VA, though, depends entirely on being able to establish a friendly, trusting relationship with clients.

If your client gives you plenty of work and pays well and on time, it still won’t work out in the long term if you aren’t friends. Finding clients with whom you can relate easily is a major challenge for every VA. Sure, there are plenty of people who could benefit from your skills, but if a solid relationship doesn’t develop, you won’t remain as their VA for long. ¬†Every VA has to find people with whom they can share mutual respect and enthusiasm; people who become their friends, even confidants.

The internet presents the unprecedented challenge of building these relationships over long distances, often with people who are several degrees removed from the VA’s circles.

We’re all slowly becoming accustomed to these digital relationships. Most of us know what it is to ‘meet’ someone online, to get to ‘know’ them through social media, to feel the curious comfort of multiple if anonymous Likes and Shares. We’re accepting of the fact that ‘meet’ and ‘know’ in an online context don’t mean quite what they used to.

I have a few clients who have stayed loyal through several years, and we have never met in person. There have been others who are no longer my clients, who had many of the same characteristics as others, and the same needs for their business, but for whatever reason, we were not able to establish a relationship. I continue the search for those who resonate with the peculiarity that is me, so that we can build the liaison and make a long term agreement possible.

This is the same routine all VAs of every stripe have to work their way through. No matter what you offer or how you operate, if you’re providing services digitally and you want long term clients, it will be an ongoing concern to find the right people to work with. After all, online marketing means the whole world is your potential market. The key is always to target as narrowly as possible, to eliminate the irrelevant right away.

So it’s important to remember that a crucial part of what is relevant for you is how much you are personally attracted to that type of person. As a VA, you are capitalizing in a big way on your own personal preferences! You’re identifying and seeking to attract people who are a perfect match for you.

What exactly is involved in finding and establishing strong online relationships? I’m thinking this is a worthy topic of discussion for a while on this blog. In the next post, I’ll outline some angles we can examine. Please comment with your ideas!