What Social Media Can Teach Us About Building Real Relationships

What Social Media Can Teach Us About Building Real Relationships

How many of your “friends” on Facebook do you interact with regularly?

If you’re like me, that number is very small.

However, I’ve noticed a phenomenon on social media that has applications to relationship building in general.

Here’s what happened:

Someone that I have not spoken with in a long time “liked” a picture that I posted with my daughter. When I saw this I thought “wow, that’s really nice that they did that considering we haven’t acknowledged each other in so long.”

A couple days later, I saw that THEY had posted a similar picture and I “liked” it. No big deal right?

A week earlier I would have kept scrolling because I would have felt weird about “liking” something from someone that I don’t really know anymore. However, because that person had initiated with something as simple as a “like” it was now totally ok.

Since then we have actually reconnected and started sending messages back and forth on Facebook. All because of a random “like” on a picture of my daughter.

This all sounds a little trivial because it’s Facebook. But there are major lessons to be learned here about the art of building real relationships.

All it takes is the smallest of initiations to open the door. In this case it was a Facebook “like”. In other cases it may be a smile, a “hello”, an introduction, a simple question, or a random compliment.

These small gestures take almost no effort or risk, but in the moment they seem monumental. Though they are tiny, they serve as massive barriers to relationship building. That seems silly, doesn’t it?

One area that I’ve been exploring lately is relationship building. Some people, extroverts and introverts alike, seem to be naturals at doing initiating and developing authentic relationships.

I think the master relationship builders understand the art of initiating. But also they understand that relationships are built slowly over time through consistent interaction and shared experience.

That’s why, for example, a new salesperson out of college needs to just keep showing up for a while before they can expect to get a sale. They need to build that relationship with the client.

But how can you go from zero relationships to being the most connected person in your industry? Here are some ideas:

  • Engage regularly on social media
  • Send handwritten notes
  • Show up at the local coffee shop, watering hole, or hangout and just strike up conversations
  • Become active in your community groups/organizations
  • Create and/or coordinate an event
  • Go to trade shows and other industry events
  • Share relevant content on your social media accounts
  • Start a Meetup Group (If you don’t know what this is, check out Meetup.com)
  • Check in with a phone call or text message regularly with acquaintances

What other tips do you have for building relationships both online and offline?

Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.