4 Ways to Build the Relationships that Make a Difference

Businessman overwhelmed by paper You started your business to make a difference. “Make a difference” doesn’t have to be  epic, change the world stuff. Perhaps it’s about being home for your kids. Or maybe you’re simply motivated by a desire to transform your own life (this isn’t simple – it’s epic and commendable).

But when you’re occupied with building a business, it can seem impossible to find the bandwidth to make a positive difference for anyone. You’re just trying to keep up with your to do list and fit in some sleep and the occasional shower. After all, with the social media universe to monitor and all the content there is to create, how do you even have time to do the actual work? (Never mind wash your hair.)

You want to stay aligned with why you became an entrepreneur in the first place. How can conquer the overwhelm that so often feels like part of the small business owner’s job description?

You beat the “I don’t have the time or energy to make a difference” blues when you devote whatever resources you do have to building strong relationships.

Relationships are fundamental to your success at all levels. You create authentic marketing content when you’re more focused on building relationships than you are on simply making sales. Joint ventures that boost your visibility rely on genuine, person-to-person connections with your entrepreneurial peers. People buy from you when they feel like you care about them.

All the effort lavished on designing a logo, developing a signature offer, and pulling together the best email sequence is wasted if you haven’t developed the connections that make those business details matter.

MakeADifference MGoudy

How do you put relationships first so they can help fulfill your desire to make a difference?

1) Stop “doing social media.”

Forget about the platforms and the strategies. Prioritize the people and the message, not the timing of Tweets and whether posts with pictures reach more people.

2) When you visit a social media site, be sure to make at least three comments on posts created by people you’d like to to know better.

Don’t take this as a free pass to lose yourself in YouTube for hours – make these interactions strategic! The goal is to strike a balance between being a generous reader/commenter and being a dedicated contributor/creator.

3) Take time to “remember your why” when you’re connecting to people.

Don’t just gravitate to the internet superstars.  Develop relationships based on shared values and interests. You’re online because you see how this time and energy investment can benefit your business.

4) Leave room for some relationships that don’t seem to have a direct impact on the bottom line.

Yes, this means that you need to continue to make time for your family and friends, but it’s also about meeting folks who aren’t necessarily part of your target audience. Place value on the relationships with people who inspire you and make you think – who knows what magic a real friendship like this may spark down the road!

Overwhelm comes standard with just about any smartphone contract these days. Just remember, you can use your digital devices to develop real relationships that nurture your business and your greater mission, not just improve your Klout score.

So much of what I’ve learned about building relationships, finding balance, and doing the work that matters has come thanks to the inspiring entrepreneurs and visionaries I’ve met online. Eleven of these inspiring business owners will be sharing their insights at the free Connection Without Overwhelm teleseries that runs October 15 – 24. Please register to join us: www.OnlineEmpowermentSeries.com

 is the writer & communications consultant behind Online Empowerment. She partners with creative entrepreneurs and holistic practitioners to create their website-first formula for online marketing success.  
An energy healer for well over a decade, she brings her passion for wellness and her intuitive skills to all of her work. In 2010 she took the leap from a career in academia to embrace entrepreneurship and to be home with her daughter in New York’s Hudson Valley. www.OnlineEmpowermentFormula.com
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  1. All great tips. Marketing is all about building relationships. And, it’s not collecting a pile of business cards. I think sometimes people get immersed in finding leads that they forget about connecting, engaging, getting to know, like & trust one another, first.

    Debra Jason recently posted… Facebook: Blessing or Curse? #infographicMy Profile

    1. What we do after we make the initial connection is what counts most. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 6 Insider Secrets of Contagious Content #infographicMy Profile

    2. Thanks, Debra! We definitely speak the same language. Here’s to quality connections – online and offline!

  2. just got back from a one-on-one meeting, so totally believe in relationships ;-) I don’t have time to meet all of my clients or community one-on-one, but I wish I could. Luckily there are other ways nowadays to build relationships ! Great tips, thanks Marissa
    Sarah recently posted… 6 Ways to Add Audio to your Marketing MixMy Profile

    1. It is great, isn’t it? I’m thankful to live in a time when we’ve got so many ways to connect.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 6 Insider Secrets of Contagious Content #infographicMy Profile

    2. Thanks, Sarah! As a mom to a little one, all too few of my meetings are face-to-face, one-on-one. I know my business wouldn’t exist without the power of online relationships.
      Marisa recently posted… Do You Feel “Invisible” in Your Work or Relationships?My Profile

  3. Thank you for this. My partner just shared this post with me and it seems to have come at the perfect time for us. We are just starting our business and really struggling to find the balance between tackling the to-do list, dreaming and creating our path, and also prioritizing time with our loved ones. Its such a tough balance sometimes.

    1. Oh, Cait, I am so glad – and I so feel that tension too! My biz partner have been at it a year and there were lots of long periods when we knew that we were putting more stress on our families than we could bear. It gets easier… as long as you work on it!
      Marisa recently posted… Do You Feel “Invisible” in Your Work or Relationships?My Profile

  4. Love these tips, Marisa! I cannot decide which one I like best, I’m guessing perhaps #4… So inspirational to be connecting with people just to know them better. I’ve made some good friends this way :)
    Delia recently posted… What exactly are you buying?My Profile

    1. Google+ has been my inspiration for “just because” relationships, Delia, and I am so grateful for it. I’ve got so many go-to guys for tech puzzles thanks to being friendly and being willing to find unexpected common ground.
      Marisa recently posted… Do You Feel “Invisible” in Your Work or Relationships?My Profile

  5. Relationships are very important to me. This is the reason why I love the Ultimate Blog Challenge.Sure I want to build my blog\’s following, but that is not priority at all. I love to learn. There are people out there that I want to find , get to know and learn from. No one can think about their niche only 24/7. we all need to look at different perspectives in order to stay in balance. # 4 resonated with me on that point.

    1. Love that attitude, Malika! I hope that you have made some powerful connections thanks to the latest UBC!
      Marisa recently posted… Do You Feel “Invisible” in Your Work or Relationships?My Profile

  6. Great post Marisa. I’d like to add that we should be patient when building relationships. It takes time to build trust and even longer when doing this online.
    Neil Butterfield recently posted… Zinc: Naturally ease ADHD & Depression SymptomsMy Profile

    1. So true, Neil, and such a challenge since the Web is so often about instant gratification.
      Marisa recently posted… Do You Feel “Invisible” in Your Work or Relationships?My Profile

  7. I do agree that relationships important at all levels. In fact that is what bring my blog to where it is now. It all start with good relationships.

    Lovely explanation.
    Okto recently posted… 10 Free WordPress Themes That Look PremiumMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much, Okto. I hope that blogging – and relationship building – continues to be rewarding (somehow I know it will be!).
      Marisa recently posted… Do You Feel “Invisible” in Your Work or Relationships?My Profile

  8. Hi Marisa,

    What great advice. I do struggle to keep up with the juggling act sometimes. Everyday I strive to be more effective rather than efficient in my business.

    I’m still learning how to build strong business relationships so your advice has really helped.


    Naomi recently posted… 6 Steps to Start A Business When Leading a Busy LifestyleMy Profile

  9. Build relationship first, pitch later. Great post!
    David Ryan recently posted… Rocketukulele.com Premium Membership – $1My Profile

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