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As part of the “Bloom Your Online Relationships” Challenge, I’ve written this post to give you some easy and useful tips to build your know-like-trust factor online.

know-like-trust-1So the biggest predictor of your success in business is, truly, your relationships. Though it can sometimes feel simpler to build relationships in real life compared to online. The Internet can feel vast and mysterious, and sometimes not all that friendly or welcoming.

Yet, one of the things I’ve observed and researched over the past 16 years (since I first began working online in 1998), is that building relationships online – especially now in social media- is very much the same as building them in real life.

Let me explain what I mean:

I’m a psychologist by training, and one of my areas of clinical specialization is in couples therapy- how we make and maintain meaningful intimate relationships. In the vast majority of cases, healthy relationships are based on good communication, mutual respect, and shared activities or interests.

It seems easy to think about this in real life- you can meet for coffee, spend time together, and engage in conversations that last longer than a 140 character tweet.

Yet, if we take the framework of off-line relationship building- the idea of communication, mutual respect, and shared experience– we can place this frame directly online and see how we can build our online relationships the exact same way.

Even though the Internet is vast and filled with billions of people, we, essentially, seek to build our online relationships one at a time, just like in real life.

If you look in your social media stream, right now, you probably have at least a couple people you want to know better. You might like their updates- the way they share ideas, or their humor, or their honesty, or all of these and more. So how would you go through the process of building a deeper online relationship with them?

Well, you could start by reaching out to them more often. “Like” their updates more consistently. Take time to leave a thoughtful comment. Show up more in their lives (and news feeds), so that you begin that first step of making connection.

Usually, this is enough to activate reciprocity, where they will start liking and commenting on your updates as well. Over time, you might move to trading some messages back and forth, and then, eventually, if circumstances permit, and you both would like to, you might end up meeting in real life too.

In fact, I make it a point, whenever I’m traveling to a new city, to try and meet at least one person in real life who I previously only knew online. I keep these meetings light, and casual- like a coffee date- and use these to learn more about this person and grow our connection even more.

In this way, social media becomes a bridge for us to connect in real life.

Does it always go really well? Well, so far, it’s been pretty good. I’ve come to think that if you’re honest and authentic in social media, you pretty much have a sense of each other before you even meet in real life.

And then, once you do meet in real life, you have something to talk about, because you’ve had some conversations online first.

So, basically, I’m all for this idea that we make connections online and we move them into real life if/as we like.

Even if you never go the extra step to meet all your online friends in person, you can still build relationships with them, especially ones which build your community and your online visibility.

One way to do this is to become likeable and familiar. You can do this by sharing relevant and useful content, being authentic, and being consistent. The goal is to be visible enough, long enough, and consistently enough so that people recognize you and pay attention to you.

Once you have their attention, you want to nurture and grow it over time.

There is more to this process, but I hope this post gives you a good starting place.

And if you did want to read the rest of the strategies, I invite you to download my free report + infographic: How to Build Your Know-Like-Trust Factor Online

And also to pick up a copy of my book, Internet Marketing for The Rest of Us: Your In Depth Guide to Profitable Popularity, where I talk about this concept even more fully, in chapter 10.

Building strong relationships is one of the best ways to build a stronger and more profitable business.

NOTE from Tea of Story Bistro: Once you’ve identified two people you want to connect with more deeply, and decided how you will do that, please come visit us on Facebook and share. Was it easy for you to do? Hard? No right or wrong answers here — we’re all just experimenting!

Image credit: Leyton Parker