woman freelancer

When I tell people that I run an entire business from my laptop and that hardly any of my content marketing or business coaching clients are local, they usually wonder how I’ve been able to do this. My answer is that I’ve been building authentic business relationships online for many years.

You see, the beauty of the internet is that you’re no longer confined to just your local area. You can have clients and customers from all over the world! This sometimes a difficult concept for people to grasp because many business owners still assume that they need to start locally.

While it’s true that you can start local, that doesn’t mean you need to stay local. That’s where building authentic business relationships online can help you take things to the next level.

Here are a few of the ways you can build authentic business relationships online and how they can help you grow your business.

Twitter

I know many business owners have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. Or, they just don’t really see the point of using it. Or, even worse, they just hear about trolls or pop culture references taking off on Twitter and don’t see how it can help their businesses.

While some may tell you that Twitter is great for website traffic because of it’s “word of mouth” effect, I would argue that’s not the case at all. In fact, I have found that Twitter is actually terrible for traffic.
What Twitter is good for is building relationships. Seriously. Before I started meeting many of my blogging friends and colleagues in person at conferences, I found most of them on Twitter.

Here are some of the ways to use Twitter to build authentic business relationships online:

  • Participate in Twitter Chats. This is quite possibly my favorite way to use Twitter to build authentic business relationships online. Why? Because I’m meeting and interacting with people who have common ground and common interests. I’ve also been able to “meet” some of my favorite bloggers and interact with them thanks to Twitter chats.
  • Share other people’s content. Each morning I receive an email of some of the best personal finance posts on the web for that day. I usually end up tweeting most of these articles out and I make sure to tag the person who wrote them. This, again, has helped me make new friends and build authentic business relationships. It’s also helped increase my followers because I’m actually engaging on Twitter.
  • Use it as a customer service or Q&A hub. Many of my content marketing clients Tweet out the work that I do for them and tag my Twitter handle. Sometimes, people have questions or comments about the content and tweet them to me. I do my best to respond to each of them individually.

These are the three main things I do on Twitter on a daily and weekly basis depending on my schedule. And it works. It helps me meet real people – some of which become followers or even business leads – amidst all the noise in the Twitterverse.

Facebook

Facebook is another way to build authentic business relationships online. Because of the sheer amount of people who use Facebook, it’s also great for finding leads and growing your business online.

Here are some of the ways I’ve used Facebook to build authentic business relationships online:

  • I’m active in Facebook groups. There are usually Facebook groups associated with either the organizations I’m a part of, conferences I’ve attended or online classes I’ve taken. Sometimes it’s even just Facebook groups of other business owners and brands that I follow. Either way, I’m very active in several Facebook groups. Whether I’m asking a question, answering someone else’s question, participating in discussions or looking for sources to quote in articles, you can bet most of the time I spend on Facebook is hanging out in groups.
  • I run my own Facebook group. I’ve had my own Facebook group for years. It started as a way for me to bring all the people who’ve helped me on my business journey into one place. It has since evolved into a mastermind group of people who are interested in business and online marketing. Since it’s my group, I have more free reign in terms of being able to share my expertise and moderate discussing.
  • Live video. I was a Periscope fanatic because I saw it as a great way to meet new people, find leads and move people through my sales funnel. In recent weeks, I’ve become experimenting more with Facebook Live and, although I don’t know if I enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Periscope, I am starting to see some traction in terms of building authentic business relationships online.
  • Facebook ads. I currently have an ad running that converts at $0.30 per conversion. I’m using it to add people to my email list and move them through a sales funnel process. I can already credit this funnel to a returning client and a new client who went through the funnel for my coaching business.

These are the four things I use Facebook for in an effort to build authentic business relationships online.

The Facebook groups, in particular, have been a great way for me to meet new people. For example, I was recently in Austin for a speaking engagement and ended up hanging out with a friend and colleague who I met through a Facebook group!

Instagram

When it comes to building authentic business relationships online, I’ve also had some success with Instagram. Although, in my personal experience, Instagram has been more beneficial for adding leads to my email list and getting a feel for what my market is going through based on the comments I receive.

For instance, one of my followers recently commented that she missed my Periscope live streams so I’m using that as a data to tell me that it may be time to come up with a live stream strategy.

I’ve also met a ton of people thanks to my use of hashtags, tagging brands and people and posting content people engage with.

Final Thoughts

While in-person networking is fantastic and necessary to running a business, building business relationships online can take your business (and your world) to a whole new level. By using some of these tips you’ll meet new people, increase your leads and increase your revenue.

Amanda Abella is a full-time writer who specializes in online business and finance. She's also an online business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of Make Money Your Honey.

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