Your online network feels solid and strong. So how do you take online connections, offline? Here are some steps you can take to move your online connections to real-world business relationships.
What do you have to offer? Are you aware of the unique value you bring to the table that cannot be easily imitated or duplicated? If not, know what you have to offer before moving forward, so you can contribute to the benefit of another – specifically, the person you’d like to get to know.
Always explore how you can give before you receive. Of course you need to focus on your end goal too, but that’s not the message that will help you connect with someone offline. It might even push them away. Instead, focus on how you can help them first. Reciprocity is essential to building trust and establishing any successful relationship. Know your strengths and how you can provide value to the other person. If you do this, you’ll stand out against others and be more than an online connection. When you’re able to create value for someone, you set yourself apart and become real-world relevant for the other person.
Start or join the conversations happening online. Once you’re clear on what you can offer someone and how you might provide value to them. With the right attitude you can productively listen and join online conversations. Easy ways to build online rapport is by following people you admire on Twitter, re-tweet or share their content, like their statuses on facebook, endorse their skills on LinkedIn (when relevant). When you’re listening, it shows and you will be front of mind and familiar so it feels like they already know you when you initiate anything offline. However, remember to always be thoughtful and authentic while doing this or all they’ll see are bad intentions.
Be clear in your intentions. Especially if you’re cold emailing, get to the point and be entirely clear about what you want. Everyone’s time, (especially successful people) is valuable. Nobody wants to guess what you want, or even worse, think you don’t know what you want. Be clear, short and to the point. Communicate your “ask” and couple it with something of value you can give and you’ll be more likely to get a response.
Get an introduction. Anyone will be more likely to respond to an introduction when referred by someone they know. When you’re introduced by a qualified source, it’s essentially social proof and an endorsement to you. The risk of losing their valuable time is significantly lowered and they’re more likely to like you if they like and respect the person who referred you.