As many of you know, I was asked to speak at the Big Africa business conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. Quite a few people have asked me how this came to be: Did I know the conference organizers? Did I submit a speaking proposal?
The opportunity came to me because of my efforts to build online relationships across the globe. The invite can be traced back to a Tweet, which led to an email, which led to a call, which led to the invite. To top it off, Sumèr was asked to write Big Africa’s website copy and help them refine their marketing message.
If I can end up halfway around the globe, speaking to an eager audience of business owners—all because of reaching out online—then you can, too. (By the way, if you haven’t seen the clip from the event, click here).
Below are 5 tips for building online relationships that last and produce results:
1. Become friends with your favorite bloggers on social media: Friending bloggers on social media platforms is a great way to stay in front of and build relationships with your peers and target audience. Blogs often have an area on the sidebar that features direct links to the bloggers’ profiles on social media. Take advantage of this by visiting their profiles, adding them as your friend, and leaving a friendly message for them on these profiles. I’ve reached out to some of my biggest key influencers this way. It’s powerful, and it works.
2. Comment: Build relationships with others by commenting on blogs, Facebook walls, videos, Tweets, answering LinkedIn questions, and more. Comments should offer additional valuable advice, compliment the post, or provide constructive criticism—with respect. I suggest searching blogs and social media platforms for topics related to your interests and your industry and commenting on these areas at least once a week.
Also, if you are commenting on a blog post, do not put your website or blog URL in the body of your comment. This often shows up as spam and will not be accepted as a comment. There is a designated area in the comment section that asks for your blog or website URL, as well as your name and email address. This is the only place you should place your blog or website URL.
On the other hand, if you’re commenting on a social media post, feel free to put a link to an article or post that you wrote. But do not constantly bombard people with your own articles. Instead, ask questions, provide additional advice, and recommend someone else’s article as a valuable resource. The whole point of commenting is to build rapport with others and show you are an expert in the industry or topic yourself.
3. Ask Engaging Questions: When you target certain social media users with a question pertaining to their industry or to their interests, you’re are engaging them and illustrating that you are interested in what they have to say. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is—it shows that you took time out of your busy day to ask them for their valuable expertise.
One of the most effective ways to engage and build relationships is to ask bloggers questions in their comments section that pertain to a post they wrote. Just remember to subscribe to the comment thread or check back frequently—the last thing you want to do is ask a question and never return to the blog to engage in the conversation.
4. Share and Support: When you mention bloggers or online friends / acquaintances on your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, and / or StumbleUpon, ezine, or blog, it not only adds diversity to the content on your page, but it also shows that you seek out valuable information and support the tips and advice that these people provide. Also, don’t forget to encourage followers or readers to contact you with questions, and post links to websites or pages that interest your audience. Give freely, be generous, and people will love you.
5. Send out personal invitations. Whether you’re asking someone to become a fan of your Facebook company page, sending an invite to a special event, or an invitation to an upcoming webinar you’re hosting, customize your invitations so that they connect with the receiver on a personal level. Take a quick look at his or her profile, and mention something specific: “Hi, Sue, we both like Cary Grant. I’d like to invite you to my fan page, where we can talk about his movies.” Tell her what’s in it for her. Two or three authentic, personal invitations per day have the potential to open numerous doors for your business.
Frustrated because you can’t seem to connect with prospects online? Not sure of what your company needs to be doing to market online? Join Michelle Salater for her free webinar on Marketing in a New Media World. Click here to register for the event.