I’m certain I will get a lot of people responding with contempt over my short answer, and that’s okay. I ask that you hear me out.

I believe social media platforms can be an excellent aid in enhancing relationships. The ability to communicate, share, and provide value is clear. However, I sincerely believe that in order to build that relationship, you must have begun the formation in a more personal manner.

Now you might be saying, “Dan, this is just like what pen pals did in the pre-computer age.” Yes, that’s a credible argument. However, pen pals usually were able to scribble more than 140 characters. They were able to write with a broader vocabulary and the anticipation of the next correspondence was part of the fun.

Consider these questions:

1. Just because you are a friend on Facebook or have someone following you on Twitter, does that mean you’d invite them to your next barbecue?

2. How many of your friends or followers have you met in person or talked to on the phone? That’s usually one of the first clues that you have a strong relationship.

3. Do they trust you enough to pay their hard-earned cash to purchase your product or service?

Maybe part of the problem is our definition of “relationship.” When I use the term, I mean that you and the other person know and trust each other to the point of having complete confidence in their affinity for your best interest. I believe many people consider the word “relationship” akin to an acquaintance.

Social media platforms are a good way to keep in touch with friends, family, and business associates. It’s a great way to find old high school and college chums. And, it’s a fine way to disseminate your opinions, value, and opportunities. However, it can also create a tremendous amount of noise, vulgarity, and wasted time.

Start by building relationships from scratch the old-fashioned way and then work on enhancing them through social media. Building strong personal and professional relationships takes time. Don’t be in such a rush to amass great numbers, rather focus on quality.

© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved