The digital business landscape has opened up a world of possibilities that we didn’t have 25 years ago. I live it every day, as our company is primarily virtual, with our contractors and clients dispersed across the globe. And because we are unable to physically work with these folks on a daily basis, it’s even more important that we foster those relationships. It also presents its share of challenges and unique circumstances.
If you’re thinking about establishing a virtual business, here are some of the advantages, and disadvantages, of a remote business.
Three Things I Love About Building Relationships in a Virtual World
1. I have access to anyone in the world
In my virtual business, I can have team members, vendors, and clients from nearly anywhere on the planet. This allows me to find and work with a variety of interesting clients and contractors who have unique qualities and skillsets - even if those people are thousands of miles away.
2. I have the flexibility of working from any location
As long as I have my phone, my laptop, and an internet connection, I can get the job done. No matter where I travel, near or far, I can communicate with prospects and clients, and collaborate with my team, without skipping a beat.
3. I can capitalize on my strengths as a leader and service professional
As an introvert, I'm more adept at communicating via written word than verbally. Running a virtual business requires more writing and electronic collaboration than it does meetings and phone calls.
Three Things I Find Challenging About Building Relationships in a Virtual World
1. It can be difficult to establish trust and maintain loyalty
Some people are cautious about putting their confidence in someone they've never met in person.
Also, without the face-to-face component, people sometimes find it easier to “pull the plug” on a working relationship.
2. Some people think of my business as a 24/7 hotline
Because I can work anywhere, and at any time, some clients assume that my team and I should be available around the clock, every day of the week, 365 days a year.
Though I do set expectations when establishing business relationships, people sometimes forget, or ignore that boundaries exist.
3. Technology doesn’t always play nice
This is especially true with social media platforms - when social networks and tools experience bugs or outages, we have no control. Technical hiccups always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times - and, depending on the issues, and their duration, they can cause a myriad of problems and ripple effects.
Last week, I had the opportunity to talk further about relationship building in a virtual world in my interview on The Lisa Valentine Clark Show. If you’re curious about how you can enhance your remote relationships, I encourage you to listen to my 15-minute segment.