Assuming you are not new to the internet, you probably have many online relationships of one kind or another. There are your friends and Likes and followers on social media; your customers or companies if you engage in online commerce; the people who visit your website if you have one and those who share your updates; and relationships of other kinds as well. Most people drift by on the current, some pause to dialog a little, a few hang around long enough for you to establish a bond at least on some level.
It’s when you establish a bond that you begin to create something of meaning. You begin to remember encounters and accumulate a history with the other person. It’s as if a root takes hold, and any height of growth is possible now.
- So a casual Twitter connection remains of no consequence until there is an actual conversation.
- A conversation remains a mere pleasantry until it develops into a series of conversations/interactions.
- And that series remains just a game until an opt-in sanctions the tie.
In social media, this progression may culminate in private email communications or face-to-face meetings. In marketing, it’s called moving the potential customer from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel. In virtual service situations, it’s the long, slow process of forming trust between you and your clients. Wherever you are in your use of the internet, you’re involved in building relationships.
This is nothing new, of course. If life is largely about building relationships, the internet is likely to be the same (wink!) But it’s rather like a game of blind man’s bluff. Online, we can’t see and sense the other person, beyond the screen. Because our perceptions are limited, we tend to observe the process and its elements especially keenly.
Even though technology brings us unprecedented opportunities, with it we also lose the capacity for immediate perception, such as we access when we’re in the flesh, alert to personal impressions and a palpable environment. Online, we’re required to construct new ways of attracting and bonding with others.
After considering the topic, I’m thinking that there are the following aspects to it that we might consider on this blog in the coming weeks.
Responding to the query, How are strong, lasting, and valuable relationships built online? we will look at:
- Teamwork – everybody’s got to want to do it.
- Digital protocols as business structure – making digital relationships work for you with the right equipment, schedule, software, approach, and attitude.
- Communications – the most powerful tool in any relationship.
- Sharing tools – the nitty-gritty of how digital communications work for work.
- Trust – the difference between likability and trust; how to inspire other people to trust you.
- Patience – and cheerfulness and equanimity and emotional control and all the other virtues that pay off in heaps in your online relationships.
- Honesty / responsiveness – over-communication beats murkiness by miles.
- Specialization/delegation – when everyone is doing what they are best at and loving it, we all profit.
If you’d like to add an angle or two to this list, make a comment! And we’ll start examining these building blocks to internet relationships in detail next time.