Creating quality relationships online takes time and effort, as we discussed in our blog Leveraging Relationships through Social Media. After you have utilized online resources, identified your target peers and market, and established an online relationship, the next step is taking the relationship offline.
Many people struggle with this step, but ultimately, taking relationships offline is what gets you the return on investment you’ve been working towards.
When is it appropriate to take my online relationship offline?
Think of it as dating! Once you have engaged in conversation for some time and have established common ground, whether business related or not, make a date to meet.
If the common ground is not directly business related, likely they fall into your peer market. The number one source of new clients in the legal industry is through referrals. Networking with peers leads to relationships, relationships lead to referrals, and referrals lead to profit. Always keep an open source of referrals.
This step can be a phone call or a coffee date, any level of human interaction is important. The goal is to build the relationship before it gets stagnant. Take time to learn about the person and ask yourself: Are they a good fit for your target market or peer group? Are they a potential referral source?
Most importantly, LISTEN! Find out what motivated them to have the online relationship, and why they wanted to take it offline as well. Pay attention to their goals and requests and evaluate if it is someone that you can directly do business with or if they are a referral source.
Keep an open mind by recognizing the difference between who is a good client and who is a good referral. Don’t jump to conclusions by automatically pushing the idea of doing business. Rather, listen and take the time to make a personal connection.
The power of personal contact should never be underestimated. Taking quality online relationships to the next level is not easy, but it will definitely pay off through generating business or leads. Don’t let your online relationships go to waste, pick up the phone and make your investment pay off!