Dec 14, 2007

Creating Real Relationships From Social Networks

Ten years ago I felt like I was falling out of touch with my nephew and confided this with my sister. Terri (my sister) said, "Scott, how much time are you spending with him? Kids judge your love by how much time you spend - not just the words you say." Is this not true about the business people we care about, too? The quality time we spend together will determine the value of the relationship.

I think of social networks much like I think about the "social" aspects of going to church (this isn't a plug, just a comparison). We can go to church, and attend services, say hello to greeters, the people next to us, and then leave. From that little interaction we might say that the church offers little social value to us. But, if we get involved in a small group, Bible study, or Sunday school class, we might get to know people on a more intimate level. I remember that the kids who went to my study on Thursdays, sang in youth choir with me, and went on trips to Mexicali with me during Spring Break always knew me better than the kids who just showed up at services with their parents. We spent time together! I've always found that's the way to get to make meaningful relationships is to spend TIME together, asking questions, sharing meals, laughs, and some level of intimacy beyond a face or computer screen. Online social networks, in a modern business sense, can be much like a big church, where we poke in and see interaction, we see relationships, but if we don't get involved we don't get much experience from it. Like anything, any network and relationship requires time to develop.

Blogging, on the other hand, reminds me more like playing my sax in church. Now, this is different because the spotlight is on me. You may know me, but I may not know you. I could play a sax solo in church and the whole congregation comes up to me afterwards, saying things like "Hey Scott, great solo! That rendition of Amazing Grace really touched me... " but playing my sax created a rather unfair relationship because they think they know me - my music touched them - and they know my name, but I don't know them at all other than their face! They especially forget to tell me their name when saying "Hi!" and that, to me, is a biased and unfair relationship. It's almost impossible to remember names when 40 people say "Hi Scott - good job!"

Blogging can be really similar, if you're not careful. For example, you might feel you know me, because you've read to a post and identified with my thoughts or opinions, or you subscribed to me feed(s) because I made you laugh, cry, feel, or think something refreshing, but I may not know you at all unless you comment, call, or email me directly.

That's the nature of blogging and social networks. Thus, I encourage people to call me if they truly wish to know me. When someone is serious about being on my radio show, I almost ALWAYS call them and talk with them about their business for 10 to 20 minutes. Yes, that's time out of my day, but the increased business relationship is worth every minute of the time spent, as they'll be referring their networked list to my show, my links, my feeds, as a result of being a guest on the show.

If we want to be really connected, it almost always involves at least an email; or better yet, a phone call. Even better than a phone call is good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings.

When I stand up to give my Cold To Gold talk or introduce the concept of selling to a group, I often ask "What's the best form of selling?" Savvy class members will answer "face-to-face" and they're right. It's the same with any type of relationship we wish to build.


Post by Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions.

ARRiiVE Business Solutions helps executives improve sales, launch products and services, and build dynamic, cross-functional collaborative teams. For more information, contact info (at)ARRiiVE (dot) com or call us at 1 (805) 459-6939.

Copyright © 2007 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. You may republish this article only if you publish in WHOLE with the COPYRIGHT and ALL ACTIVE LINKS intact.

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