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Building Influence

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On February 15, couples around the world breathed a sigh of relief. Whew – another 364 days until you have to shower your partner with material displays of affection! You may be off the hook in the romance department, but when it comes to developing your professional relationships, you’re on call year-round.

We think February is a great time to re-focus your attention on and re-direct your efforts around your professional relationships. That’s why our theme for this month’s installment of Design on the Haus is Build Relationships, Build Influence. Your network of professional relationships is a pipeline that brings you new business, new partnership opportunities, and recognition in your field. Overall, it enhances your credibility, and can make your job a bit more pleasant, to boot!

In 2014, building relationships involves more than just facetime and power lunches. If you harness the power of social media, you can truly make your relationships work for you.

Relationships that bridge both the online and offline worlds are the most valuable assets in today’s social landscape. In order to create these relationships in real life, start from the first point of contact. For example, whenever you meet someone in person at an event, follow up online the next day. Connect on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, like their company’s page on Facebook, and follow them on Pinterest.

Then, take it a step further by actively engaging. You can retweet, favorite, or respond to their tweets, comment on their LinkedIn updates, or repin their pins on Pinterest. Be creative! These little touches take only a few moments of your time, but they’ll remind your new contact that you are thinking of him or her. As we mentioned in our first post on relationships, it takes three to five touch points, on average, to build a strong relationship. Social media engagement is an efficient way to hit some of those touch points.

But social media is not enough to solidify the relationship. As you probably know, just because you’re Facebook friends, doesn’t mean you’re friends in real life. By the same token, connecting to someone on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you have a viable professional relationship with that contact.

In order to do that, we recommend you meet any new contact in person. If you’re in the neighborhood, suggest a coffee date or offer to drop by his/her office. If he or she is too busy to meet that day, follow up a few weeks later with another invitation. If you’re attending a conference together in a different city, set up a time to catch up over dinner or breakfast. Setting aside the time for a face-to-face meeting shows that you are serious about developing the relationship. The best connections are memorable ones, and people are far more memorable than screennames!

This month, commit to getting outside your comfort zone as you develop your relationships, whether that means engaging in person, or online. We think you’ll find that when online and offline intersect, the result is a relationship that’s twice as strong.

Posted by Beth Connolly

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