Developing Relationships In The Digital World

September 9, 2022

It was around this time last year that I was walking around the streets of Davos, feeling the snow crunch under my boots while breathing in the cold, crisp Swiss air. Though the snow and Swiss air were definitely magnificent, it was the people that drew me to Davos during the World Economic Forum's annual meeting. During this time, I walked along the Davos promenade from one fascinating hotel event to the next, meeting one beautiful mind, after another, exploring the nexus between curiosity and connection.

And connect I did. With familiar faces, and many new faces. After a catalytic week in Davos, I flew back to New York City, organizing my business cards and my thoughts while in midair. Sitting 30,000 feet in the sky, I thought to myself: How do I best develop these relationships going forward.

The events that unfolded after January 2020 required developing these relationships through digital means only, with traveling and in-person meet-ups no longer an option. As I reflect back on the year 2020, and as a nod to the relationships established in Davos, here are my thoughts on how leaders can better develop their business relationships in an ever-increasing digital world.

Purposeful And Personal

One thing's for sure, I'm not running into the people I met in Davos at a dinner party any time soon. And I think this is the baseline understanding for almost everyone; therefore, people are fully embracing the connection available compliments of technology. So how do you best utilize technology to develop relationships? Whether it's through audio, text or video, you and I must be purposeful with our interactions because of the lack of serendipity in our online lives. To put it neatly, it's important to be intentional with digital outreach and replies. The silver lining is that you can choose and easily embrace business relationships based on relevancy instead of proximity — with the help of technology and intentionality.

Further, personalizing interactions tends to create a positive experience, thereby accelerating relationships forward. Personalization is powerful because it engages another's interests and emotions. And this is positive. Sometimes you skip personalization because it doesn't seem efficient, but skipping this step is also skipping the opportunity to accelerate a relationship supporting your business forward. Therefore, personalizing outreaches and replies based on situational and/or relational dynamics to you and your business is well worth the investment.

Empathy And Levity

Continuing on the thread of personalization, embracing empathy is crucial for developing meaningful relationships in the digital world, too. Empathy invites you to step into the shoes of another to better understand their experiences and feelings. Consciously considering another's point of view allows anyone to elegantly interact with their perspective in mind. This is a win/win for you, the other person and the relationship more broadly. One question I often ask myself when communicating with another is "Why might this person be sharing x, y, and z with me?" Are they looking for support, guidance or simply an ear? This question helps me to explore the shape and texture of the other person's perspective and objectives so that I can empathetically respond.

And to end on a light note — pun intended — levity is great for relationship building in the digital world because it reminds us that we're all human – despite connecting digitally. Levity brings a light-hearted feel to your communications, inviting smiles to sit alongside business. Smiling elevates your mood, and consequently, it can also elevate your relationships, highlighting both the art and the science behind relationship development.

As you continue becoming more accustomed to digital dialogue around your business, rather than conference room conversation, embrace purposeful and personal interactions coupled with empathy and levity to further develop relationships. At the very least, you're guaranteed a smile.

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