How do you establish a working relationship with someone that you’ve just met online? Considering the sheer number of marketing related messages that I get on a daily basis, it can be a challenge trying to figure out who just wants to sell me something or who may be interested in creating a longer term, mutually beneficial relationship.

Want to separate your signal from the noise? This is what I look out for:

Pay attention to how people say things. The first thing I notice when a message comes in is how much it looks like the one I previously received. Auto DMs on Twitter are fine, as long as you take some time to make it appear genuine and not like an overt sales pitch. I always make a point to lead with value. Instead of asking for my business up front, why not try to show me what benefit you can provide first. If asking for my assistance, then try to communicate how my help will benefit you and what I need to do. 

Be mindful of your first impression. Does your website appear warm and welcoming or does it appear to be primarily sales oriented? The latter is absolutely fine when coupled with a gentle sales pitch or an attempt to talk first to find out what my interests may be.

Manners are still important. I tend to respond to people that will take a step by step approach to developing a working relationship. And I do the same. At every moment of contact, I make an attempt to provide value and give the other person an easy out if they choose not to continue contacting me. More often than not, when you are respectful of people’s time, interest, and motivations, meaningful working relationships can be created.

One of the more interesting things about social media is the extent to which random connections can turn into something more. Just like when interacting in person, how you say things and how you present yourself make a difference.

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