Social Networks and High Value Relationships

by Jim Cathcart
copyright 2008

Another day, another new social network.
It’s like the 1990s when the “dot com” businesses were being created by-the-hour, resulting in what we later called “the tech boom.” So, with all these options: LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, SynergyStreet, Plaxo, Naymz, etc., what’s a person to do? How do we know whether to sign up and fill out a profile? Will it just be a diversion and a waste of otherwise valuable time?

Personally, I’m signed up and “profiled” with several of them. I don’t know which one will truly pay off but I do know this; the online traffic is shifting right now from simple emails and traditional websites to Social Networks and Blogs.

Here’s why: Accessibility and Trustworthiness.
We want two main things from our online resources; 1. the ability to use them easily without extra cost or special training and 2. to be able to trust them not to spam us or infect our computers with viruses.
Social Networks offer both of these. So do Blogs. Let’s address them one at a time.

Social Networks
These wonderful communities allow us to choose who we connect with and at the same time they provide most of the capabilities we had through our websites and Outlook email. We can share photos, tell stories in our posts, communicate with our “base” of friends easily, monitor what’s up with those in our network and more. We can tell the whole family and extended family our news with only a few clicks. And we can do this via anyone’s computer or PDA. Many cell phones offer us the same ability.
No longer must we send lengthy letters or newsletters. Now we can simply post the news, add the links we want and attach the items we wish to share. What a miraculous invention!

But which network should you use?
I’d say use the one(s) that get the job done for you. Don’t worry about being exclusive for now. Just dive in, with appropriate caution, and start communicating. See and be seen. Get “out and about” so that others can easily connect with you.
If you are concerned about having to check multiple sources each day, don’t. Just sign up for the automatic notifications via email and watch your Outlook in-box. When someone posts a message to you , you’ll get an email.

The reason I suggest you get involved so fully is this; connections lead to collections. You’ve got to circulate to percolate. If you ain’t in it, you can’t win it. Get my point?
High-Value Relationships usually start out as low value relationships. They only gain value as others begin to see more value to them by staying connected with you. We used to describe a person who knew lots of others as someone who was “well connected.” Today that is even more true.
Part of your Equity in the marketplace is determined by the number of people who trust you.

Knowledge is no longer Power
Knowledge is and will always be valuable, but Power has moved. It has moved from Knowledge to Trust. In any situation, the person who is most trusted by others is the person with the most power. In Social Networks you are able to build your connections, strengthen your reputation, and expand the number of people who feel comfortable communicating with you. You can begin by simply communicating and exploring, then when appropriate, contribute something you feel they will value. Before long you will be known and trusted. Soon after, you will find people seeking your advice, input and recommendations.

Build Trust before you need it
By cultivating these relationships you will be accumulating a relationship “bank account” from which you can make withdrawals (asking for something) later on. At first though, you will need to make plenty of “deposits” by seeking ways to share useful information, offer encouragement, and take an interest in others. Get known and liked in the “neighborhood” by being a good neighbor and friend.

Blogs are the new Websites
What makes a web-log (Blog) so desirable is its ease of use. We’ve always wanted our websites to do more than most of them do and with Blogs we have it. We can make edits on impulse, make changes and additions without relearning code, and get picked up by Search Engines easily. Blogs have become the non-techie’s website of preference. I find I’m even favoring my Blogs over my website when I want to communicate something to the marketplace.

The drawback is that far too many people are creating Blogs. There is much useless information on the web now and it is growing daily. But your friends and followers can avoid the “noise” by simply subscribing to your Blog via a RSS feed. Most Blog services offer this feature for free, and most Blogs are free as well. Blogger and WordPress plus many others offer you the ability to create a Blog at no cost and be up and running within an hour or less. Explore this Blog (the one you are reading right now) and see how much functionality it has. This is a WordPress Blog and its features are impressive. For free! Nice.

If I were starting my online presence today I’d skip the website and go straight to the Blog. Though my website (Cathcart.com) is highly capable and offers video clips, articles, links, and fancy formatting…so does my Blog. And on the Blog I don’t have to call my webmaster to get things edited. It is simple enough to do it myself.
For expertise in whether to Blog, how to Blog and what not to do, seek out Ted Demopoulos and read his books on Blogging for Business. Be sure to get a copy of his booklet titled “Secrets of Successful Blogging.” It’s a quick and easy read with loads of tips and insights.

The folks who subscribe to your Blog’s RSS feed are the base of your own network of High-Value Relationships. When you make it easy for them to communicate with you, learn from you and determine whether they can trust you, you also remove their barriers to buying. People do business with the people they like and the people they trust. Become one through Blogging and Social Networking.
And, please, stay in touch through your comments, recommendations and emails.
See you on the internet!
Jim

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4 Comments

Filed under High-Value Relationships, Inner Circles, Relationship Assets, Relationship Intelligence Training

4 responses to “Social Networks and High Value Relationships

  1. Your blog continues to be simultaneously interesting, an easy and quick read, and valuable! Obviously your professional experience of having been a master communicator for many years and being the “mentor of choice” of those seeking relationship intelligence, now benefits us all as you point to the key issues of focus. Each of us, whether we are a start-up entrepreneur, seasoned business owner or corporate executive, needs a fresh “memory jog” of why we use the tools available (technology). With your timely reminder, we can regain focus on not only why, but “how” to utilize business social networking, (online communities) as well as blogs, to maximize our time and our efforts and ultimately lead to the face-to-face marketplace meetings that result in increased business. Successful business people know, the “real” end game always has been, and always will be, building quality, lasting relationships. As you so poignantly teach; these quality relationships are based upon trust. Trust can only be gained over time and with frequent exposure. The online communities and blogs provide the vehicle for this opportunity! Jim, I’m looking forward to seeing you online, … and in the marketplace! Keep up the great work! Tony Holden, Founder-SynergyStreet.com

  2. Excellent points, Jim! As a relationship marketing expert myself, I’m really loving the move to more ‘web 2.0’ based business building.

    You’re right on about trust: I believe, over time, with multiple touchpoints in little soundbites such as on Facebook, Twitter (micro-blogging), blogs, commenting and the likes, people get a feel for who we really are. Our authenticity (or lack thereof!) shines through in the “footprints” we leave behind in these various places. And then our prospects can be more at choice about whether they engage our services or not.

    Btw, I just joined your new relationship intelligence Facebook Group! 🙂 I look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve with your new book.

  3. Jim,

    Great blog on social media…you are the 2nd person I highly respect that is praising the virtues of Social Media Networks…the other is Ford Saeks.
    I met Ford and an now working with him to create a blog on my site and I have since added my information to several social media sites.
    It is good seeing you endorsing this new medium and providing valuable insights as well.
    As always, thanks for the great insights.
    Steve G

  4. This was an excellent and very timely post for the things I have been thinking about most lately. My mantra has become:

    “The most valuable asset you can and ever will establish for your business is a relationship with a community to loyal customers who look to you as a trusted ally.”

    This relationship is based on trust. What I love about the social media age is that it gives us more tools than ever to establish that trust.

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