Regardless of what type of online business you run, the relationships you establish are one of, if not the single, most important key to your success. Throughout the course of your internet career you will interact with many people who play various roles in your network; customers, clients, competitive business owners, joint venture partners, co-workers, employees, etc. Your relationships with these people will play a very large part in determining your ultimate success or failure in the online marketplace.

Building and nurturing business relationships requires a committed and consistent amount of effort. Putting time and energy into this activity will reap many benefits, however, the results are not always immediate. As with any relationship, it will take time to earn respect and trust. Here are some excellent tips for building strong, enduring business relationships online.

Authenticity is paramount. Online businesses allow us to be slightly more removed from the actual personal interaction normally required of us when running a business, however hiding behind a computer won’t do much to help you to establish a foundation of trust with our customers and potential JV partners. Allowing people to connect with you on a more personal level, especially if you are the name/face of your business, will help them to develop a stronger sense of who you are and what you stand for. This, in turn, will foster brand loyalty and help distinguish you from the rest of the online businesses in your niche. Sometimes the biggest difference between businesses of the same type is how they choose to appeal to their target audience.

Seek out people and businesses that have similar goals and values. Whether you are looking to increase your customer base or perhaps partner up with another business or two for a big project, you will want to be on the lookout for those who share many of your own objectives and standards. This will be especially important as you start to participate in joint ventures with other online businesses. Keep in mind that the company you keep will influence the public’s opinion of you. If you choose to partner up with a company for any purpose, make sure that they are one that has an excellent reputation for ethical and honest business dealings.

Attend offline events. One of the best ways to build business relationships, even with those who do their business predominantly online, is to attend offline events. Get out there and meet people in person. Videos, webinars, and podcasts can do a lot for a business when it comes to building relationships online, but a real-life meeting gives you an advantage over those who are only known via the internet.  Of course, you will want to be selective in which events you attend. You wouldn’t want to spend your time and money to hang out with a bunch of romance novelists if your product or service is geared towards people who need help building their dream aquarium. Use common sense when selecting the events you will attend and the people you will follow up with afterward.

Bring your fair share of value to the relationship. Don’t focus only on what a particular business relationship will do for you, but on how it can be MUTUALLY beneficial. Consistently seeking out people who will help your business while getting nothing in return will put you on the fast track to being left out in the cold and having no business relationships at all. When it comes to selling your products or services, always over deliver. When it comes to business to business dealings, be as helpful as possible without always expecting something in return.

When you do business predominantly online, you will soon discover that connecting with others is an activity that cannot be neglected if you want to succeed in the industry. And though it takes time and persistence to nurture the relationships you need to succeed, the time and effort spent doing so will eventually pay off in a multitude of ways.

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