The foundation of any lasting relationship is a positive value exchange. In personal relationships the value is often intangible. It may be a subtle deposit in what Stephen Covey calls the “emotional bank account.”
Making such deposits spontaneously and without calculation is most effective. In fact being relatively unconscious of the value exchange may be advantageous, because of the importance of sincerity. But we can enhance our relational value by practicing the habit of noticing things we truly like and giving sincere praise and recognition. We can choose to invest attention, which is often valued more than money. We can ask ourselves frequently, “How can I help?”
Ted Rubin offered valuable advice in a post on The Social CMO Blog:
To build relationships online, you (brand or individual) have to offer something in return, such as valuable information, personal introductions to your already-established connections, or even part of yourself through engagement and interaction.
It’s no longer enough to just suggest that someone should be interested in your product or service. You need to engage your market — ask questions, propose ideas, or simply communicate through social media in a way that gives your followers a chance and a reason to respond.
Then when they respond, interact with them to solidify the relationship, or it will just fade out. Directly acknowledge their response, ask follow-up questions, and share their insights with others. Don’t simply be responsive, be incredibly responsive. Always acknowledge those who reach out or spread your ideas.