Mechanics of Online Relationships

Seattle Municipal ArchivesRelationship building would seem to be a soft skill, not something you can do according to formula for proven success. You can’t package the process of winning the favor and trust of others.

On the other hand, with the internet comes a new, hard dimension in relationship building; the interaction of technology to facilitate the process. High tech makes possible fabulous new relationships, mind-blowing achievement, and creative adventures we never dared dream before. But we have to know how to use it.

At minimum, we use email or Skype, Facebook or Twitter. Probably we have shared via many other sites and tools as well. If our relationships have to do with business, we very likely need Google docs, a project management software, Dropbox, LogMeIn, and much more.

The hitch is that many people have an irrational yet real-enough fear of all things technical, especially digital. 

Granted, I’m an aging Boomer so it may have to do with the age I tend to attract as clients, but I do interact with many business owners who beg me to just do it all for them. It’s not surprising.

Learning and getting used to the process of each and every online tool is time-consuming and distracting. It’s certainly understandable that these people have little interest in spending time on the mechanics if they’re busy being, for instance, photographers or scrap metal dealers or award winning chefs or whatever.

We are not required to know how our car’s engine works or how to fix it. Why should the internet be any different?

It is possible for you to work with virtual service providers to execute any and all of your updates and interactions online. Many busy executives make such arrangements.

Of course, just about everyone knows how to write and send an email. That’s enough to get started building complex digital relationships. Eventually, you’ll need more tools to give depth and texture to your relationships. You will want a website, a blog, social media profiles. You can easily outsource the setup of these, as well as a large percent of their technical maintenance. As long as you can write an email (some people even depend for the most part on phone conversations), you can build relationships online.

But can you remain blissfully detached forever from the technical underpinnings of your virtual bonds? As long as there are VAs, you can.

We don’t feel the need to learn car maintenance; we trust that the supply of mechanics will continually replenish. We don’t have to learn medicine because we trust that doctors will continue to serve.

Alas, a myth of unicorns and freebies has been perpetuated for years, leading us to think internet interactions cost nothing. Because vehicles, or channels, are involved, there are logistics/systems which require planning, configuration, and maintenance.

There are costs and returns. It’s business as usual.

But make no mistake: it’s business in which relationships drive everything, and they are cultivated via online technology.