The internet has given us the world at our fingertips, but if you want to do anything meaningful you need to focus on relationships.

There are more ways than ever to reach out to people, but it seems like the easier it is to do, the less meaningful it is. Twitter, Facebook, blogs… they are great for broadcasting, but if you want to start building a relationship, you have to start listening.

Perhaps the biggest mistake made in social media is to broadcast without listening. Sure, you want to spread your message to the largest amount of people but responding to the one or two people who replied with a comment will be more powerful in the long run. Furthermore, you could start a conversation in the comments. Then follow up with a personal email. Maybe a few emails ensue…

As the personal nature of the interaction grows, so does the strength of the relationship. This relationship builds trust and attention, which are both key to success when teaching online. As you can also see, the time and effort increases substantially too.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” – Beverly Sills

If you recall in our discussion on Serving an Audience you will remember that we are not trying to win the trust and attention of the masses but rather to engage a more manageable amount of 1000 true fans. The only way to do this is through relationship building that involves sincerity, respect, care and effort.

It is possible to hide behind modern technology, so you might want to do a reality check with your current approach and beliefs. Are we really more social now? Do we really have that many “friends”? To build a relationship with someone requires courage. The tools are all there. Skype, the phone, a coffee shop. These will be the most powerful and meaningful interactions you will ever have. Muster up the courage to come out from the safe world of social media and be present with someone, even if it is just for ten minutes.

Why not save yourself the next tweet and line up a video chat with a student? Imagine how powerful this could be when done regularly over the course of a year?


The internet is a scrappy place. Not only can anyone publish material online but there is never a guarantee that we know exactly with whom we are dealing. For this reason building trust as part of a relationship is crucial to online business.

Trust comes from fulfilling expectations on an ongoing basis. Keeping promises and remaining transparent. This takes time, patience, and generosity on your part.


Attention comes after trust, after you deliver quality with consistency. You earn trust and people pay attention. With this privilege you have the ability to deepen and strengthen relationships to a point where you have true fans. These are the people with whom you want to work; these are the people you will serve.