Building online relationships
Building online relationships can be one of the most frustrating and rewarding things a new webmaster/entrepreneur/blogger can do.
Frustrating because no-one really gets how cool what you're doing is and won't give you a chance. Rewarding because a good relationship can help catapault you to success.
The problem that most people have with building ties via the Web is simple. Patience!
It's a natural tendency for anyone embarking on a new project (whether it's a website, a new book publication, a new consultancy, whatever) to want to talk solely about that project. New ventures can become all consuming and, as people, we like to talk about those things that interest us.
Inevitably, most other people aren't in precisely the same mindset so they aren't too keen to spend hours or even minutes talking about our latest project. There's a saying that goes something like this (if anyone knows the original version, please let me know):
This exuberance (and more importantly, disparity in exuberance) leads us into making a few important, though often subtle, mistakes:
Bias content & interaction
Most people are now well honed anti-spam and promotion machines. They are able to detect the scent of self-promotion like sharks - one part per million.
In fact, it's almost like a running joke in online communities; who can spot the shameless self promoter. This is something you have to avoid, but few entrepreneurial ventures seem to manage.
There's a secret to it though. In order to avoid coming across as a sales person, completely forget about your business or venture whenever you get online. Obviously, if you are starting a business in a certain niche you should have a bit of knowledge and passion for the subject.
Get out there and sell that knowledge and passion. People want to do business with other people who they trust - not sales people.
It's hard to do things this way because it ends up taking time; and rewards can be sloooow in getting to you. I refer you back to the original point... Patience!
Another tendency for new businesses is to reach for the stars. There's so much written about how everyone, with stars in their eyes, should aim as high as their imagination lets them. Unfortunately, reality has a way of infringing on this entrepreneur's utopia.
Regardless of how good you are and how brilliant and cost effective your service is, it can be a mistake to approach large companies and organizations before you have built up sufficient credibility.
Unless you have invented or created something completely revolutionary that will genuinely change the world (in which case, by all means try and grab as much market share as possible before the competition gets wind of it), spend some time doing solid work and building a reputation.
In the online world, traffic volume is in many ways synonymous with success, and being able to demonstrate a genuine popularity is invaluable when approaching potential partners (who are higher up the ladder than yourself).
Before pitching up the ladder, think about someone in your position being approached by someone with little to no credibility or reputation - how would you view them?
Building up credibility and a reputation takes time, and it's terribly frustrating not to go for gold when you know you can do it (whatever it is) now - but rushing into things isn't going to help. Again, it boils down to patience.
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