We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a networking event or a conference, communication techniques are different on and offline. From 140 characters on a screen to physical human interaction, personal contact is dependent on the medium.

When building relationships – especially those between your brand and consumer – the differences are even more apparent.

It’s time to get back to the basics. The basics of relationship building, both on and offline, are to become more engaged and interactive, both as a brand and an individual.

Read on for these 5 exercises in relationship building.

  • Meet and greet – the social handshake

When you meet someone, the first thing you do is say something like, “Hello, my name is Teri. How are you?” You introduce yourself and extend your hand. This digital gesture shows that you value them as a person and says that you are interested in getting to know them. Be friendly and welcoming.

  • Crush the awkwardness – the icebreaker

Sometimes we feel awkward when first meeting someone new and may not be sure how to proceed to a comfortable level after the introduction. This is where you can ask a question. Try to keep it relatable to the person and be sure and share an opinion as well. Validate their answer by responding back to what they said.

  • Show genuine interest – pay attention

Once you’ve passed the barrier of the first few minutes of meeting someone, make them feel comfortable by continuing to show interest in what they have to say. Simply pay attention and respond in kind. It won’t take long to start to “feel” a connection and you’re on your way to building a real relationship with them.

  • Cater to the contact – serve them first

When you have have established a relationship, it’s time to take to the next level – that of service. You are no one without your followers and customers so cater to them. Find out  how your product or service can improve their lives and then show them. You should be taking the first step forward instead of making them come to you.

  • Finish well – leave the door open

When you’ve fulfilled a need your follower may have or established a relationship with them, it’s OK to withdraw a little. It’s not the end of the game, though. Be alert and listening and check back in on a consistent basis. A sale is never the end, it’s simply a step in the relationship journey.

These are simple exercises that we all know how to do in person, but it can be easy to forget these common courtesies when online.

Social engagement isn’t about competition, broadcasting or the score. Relationships are what matters and if you do the work to cultivate and build them, the reward will be seen in loyalty to your brand and someone who is proud to be connected with you. In the online social world, that’s where the real value can be found.

Have you experienced social engagement that led to a real relationship with a brand? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

(Photo credit: Nomadic Lass, Flickr)

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