5 tips for Online Business Dating

In these times of crisis, we have to adapt to the new situation. In a unique position, we can only deepen social contacts online. But how do you build an online business relation? Below are 5 tips on how to deepen an online business dating.

Tip 1: Be Personal

When you can only have digital contact, it is best to try and talk to your customer one on one. A dialogue will allow you to use different questioning techniques. The key is to let your customer do the talking, be a good listener and let him tell you about his problems. Of course, this isn’t valid only online, but in person as well.

To let the customer feel he doesn’t need to cope with his problems alone, it helps to share your own personal situation by, doing, so the customer mirrors his situation on yours. He will feel like you are dealing the problems together.

Be aware of the Barnum effect, however, a pitfall at this point. The Barnum effect named after P.T. Barnum, the showman who stated, “a sucker is born every minute”. He found many ways to separate “suckers“, as he called gullible people, from their money.

The Barnum effect in psychology refers to the credulity of people when they hear descriptions of their personality. By personality, we mean how people are different and unique. But it is possible to give vague, general descriptions that apply to most people. Yet, people rate these as very accurate descriptions of themselves. Fortune tellers and astrologist often use this effect.

To give you some examples of a Barnum description:
  • You tend to be critical of yourself.
  • Sometimes you have serious doubts whether you made the right decision or did the right thing.
  • Although you have some personality weaknesses, you can generally make up for them.

Online it is unwise to make extensive use of this technique. As you cannot read the customer’s body language, it is hard to see how he reacts to the Barnum effect. This could backfire on you.

So be personal!

Tip 2: Show, don’t tell

In the current crisis and a world of fake news, people are searching for a haven. The best supporter of trust is the customer himself. As a relationship builder, you have to activate this capability. By telling stories in which the listener made his own world, you start building on this trust. Avoid jumping to conclusions too fast; give the listener enough information to let him conclude.

This technique is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. The show, don’t tell is a technique used in various types of communication. It allows the customer to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses and feelings rather than through your explanation, summary and description. Instead of using adjectives in your analysis, present the scene by appealing to your customer’s senses. It will make him feel he draw the conclusions by himself, which is always stronger, as it avoids the ‘not invented here’ feeling.

Source: Wikipedia

This technique applies well to online communication. The use of video calls and e-mail allows you to steer your customer’s thoughts step-by-step. This creates an atmosphere that prompts the customer to conclude by himself.

Tip: In the Prison Break video on the right you can see this technique in practice: Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and Tweener (Lane Garrison) show (and not tell) that Tweener is an experienced pickpocket.

Tip 3: Be specific

The risk of distraction is higher during online communication. So, it is even more important to be straight forward and to the point. What specific problem are you going to solve for your customer? It is easier to keep his attention if you can define the problem precisely. How to be more specific? Internet will help you. Customers enter their problems in search engines every day. These queries are quite specific; otherwise, they wouldn’t get the desired results. You can find these queries online, for instance, at https://answerthepublic.com. These queries and related search terms will help you specify your customer’s problem.

Another way to specify the problem is building a mind map for your (potential) customer. This gives you more insight into how to be more specific regarding your value proposition. You can use for example https://tobloef.com/text2mindmap/

But also, various apps that you can download in your app store. Some apps:

A mind map is a great first step for a Crisis Value Proposition. Read more.

Tip 4: Be Positive

Trust is the magic word in relationships. However, you have to gain it. In face-to-face situations, it is easier to gauge the reaction of your counterparty than online.

An important guideline to follow is always to bring out the positive side of your solution. By omitting the possible negative side, it cannot be suggested. On the positive side, it is easier to express the confidence of your (potential) customer. This reinforces when others endorse the positive.

So be positive and don’t air your dirty laundry in public.

Tip 5: Keep in touch

The impact of an online meeting is much lower than of a physical meeting. Despite all the effort you put into it. Because of this, you will need to create more contact moments to build the relationship. A common guideline within sales is 7 moments of contact. Yet, when building an online-only relationship, 7 is on the low side. Do also read our article about calling to learn more: Call Baby, Call.

Especially in these times, it is advisable to stay in touch with your (potential) customer. But do keep the ABC method in mind.

To seduce him, feed the customer little by little, by giving them interesting information. This information contributes to your storytelling (see Tip 2: Show, don’t tell). Storytelling also highlights the positive side of your solution. By building up the information, you deepen the relationship with the customer. In this way, you build trust.




By using these 5 tips, Be Personal, Show, Don’t Tell, Be Specific, Be Positive and Keep in Touch, in maintaining and creating online business relationships, you can still expand your customer base during these uncertain times.

If you have any questions or want to talk about how to build business relationships during Corona times, feel free to contact me.

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