How to build relationships in the digital age … for business acceleration

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Relationships matter. They always have even before we were so tied to connections through the Internet. With business being done digitally and in person the way we can build connections has certainly changed and evolved. When done well there’s a good mix of off-line connections and online connections and some overlap. When you build a large it can be to meet all of your connections off-line.

In this episode of the Business Storytelling Podcast I talked with Nimble CEO John Ferrara about how you can build relationships especially when you’re mostly connected digitally. Jon and my relationship is a good example as we have been connected on Twitter for a long time but I’ve never met him in person. In fact, we verified that we have never met in person when we first started recording. Sometimes it is hard to keep track.

It’s easier said than done to connect with people online or off-line. Let’s break down how you can be successful.

5 Es of Social Business

On the show Jon broke it down into five areas to focus on.


Educating your audience comes back to sharing content that they might find valuable. This is a fine line between posting educational content at the right volumes or so much that people will feel spammed. I’ve actually unfollowed people that are very knowledgeable in a topic but they post so much that it’s a full-time job just to keep up on their content.


This can be as easy as replying to people within context. Sometimes you might say “thank you for sharing my post” or add additional comments. I am typically a fan of adding additional comments to a conversation versus just saying thank you. If you just wanted to say thank you you could probably just like a post.

Here’s an example from my friend Mael Roth when I shared his article. He sent a thank you gif.

Read next: Why you are seeing more DMs on Twitter


It’s about delighting people. Share something that makes their day or engage in a way that is highly meaningful. In my customer service book we call that delighters.


Connect with people on the right level and enjoy and value the relationship and exchange.


By sharing your knowledge and being available empower people to be successful.

The power of loose connections

Certainly it can be hard to have deep connections with a lot of people. Maybe it’s even impossible. But by following the above model and the strategies in my No. 1 new release public relations book – Content Performance Culture – you can build a network of connections that know, trust and appreciate what you bring to the table.

Read next: How to build your authority in a topic

Once you connect with with relevant people and offer value over a sustained period of time those people will also help you when you need help. This became even clearer to me when I launched the latest book and my connections – especially on Twitter – really went above and beyond helping me promote it.

I pinned the following tweet to the top of my timeline and it’s another great example of how important good pinned tweets are.

I also sent strategic messages to connections to invite them to check out my book and that I would appreciate retweets. I also offered to send them discounted and signed copies as long as they were in the United States by using this link. You are also invited to order a signed copy here as long as you are located in the United States. Unfortunately I can’t send them worldwide for that cost. Amazon ships worldwide.

Overall the impressions were fantastic. I also spent $50 on a Twitter promoted post but as you can see the organic reach and especially clicks were outstanding.

Here’s a quick sampling of what people said. Keep in mind that I’ve been connected to many of them for years and even have met some of them in person at conferences and other events.

None of these friends had to share my content and certainly it helped get the book listed at No. 1 of new releases in the public relations arena. Thanks, friends.

Building relationships anywhere online and off-line does take time. But with digital tools and even sophisticated automation we can build and maintain relationships at a much higher volume than it was ever possible in an off-line only world.

With that I want to say thank you to everyone who is following along and who supports my projects.

Will everyone love me?

Of course, once you build a decent size community it’s certain that not everyone will love you.

Four years ago I even published my own mean tweets video and shared some of the things people have said about me that was less than positive. I’ve also published negative speaking feedback I’ve received as well. 

At the end of the day not everyone will love you but the right people will. It’s kind of interesting when people ask me about who is listening to my podcast. Of course podcast measurements are hard to come by and I usually just respond with that really only marketing, communications and public relations people would care about the topics. So if somebody else listens and they don’t like the show they’re probably not in those areas. Not the right audience.

Figure out what you stand for, what your expertise is and what you’re passionate about and then build your community from there by being helpful and easy to engage with.