Relationships are the building blocks for happiness in life, but will also largely determine the success of your SEO and online marketing content promotion campaign. Whether you want to build backlinks or increase the social shares for your new post, you will need a lot of good relationships. Real relationships, with real people. In other words, you will need to have some digital influence.

Being Interesting helps. And so does small talk. In part 3 of this series, let’s explore the process of building digital relationships.

The blogs and twitter accounts with a real audience (and large potential flood of targeted new visitors to your website) have a real person that has carefully curated the content he or she shares with this audience.

They are not going to share your content easily. You will need to prove your worth, and this can take time.

They are not going to share your content easily. Click To Tweet

I’ve put together a roadmap for building digital relationships with influencers in your space using the time-tested principles of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Each of Dale’s original tips include a “Digital Relationship Action Item”, suggesting how you can implement the tip immediately into your digital, link building life.

Digital Influence: Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1). Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.Digital Influence

Human nature does not like to admit fault. When people are criticized or humiliated, they rarely respond well and will often become defensive and resent their critic. To handle people well, we must never criticize, condemn or complain because it will never result in the behavior we desire.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Finding a spelling or punctuation error on someone’s site is common. But based on this tip, if you want to become friends with this author, pointing out this error (especially publically) might not be the best first interaction you have. Unless maybe you want a job as an editor!

Same thing with disagreeing with their opinion. On one hand, it may make for a good discussion. But on the other hand, don’t expect them to want to follow up with you any further. So choose which you prefer!

2). Give honest and sincere appreciation. Digital Influence Digital Relationship Advice #2

Appreciation is one of the most powerful tools in the world. People will rarely work at their maximum potential under criticism, but honest appreciation brings out their best. Appreciation, though, is not simple flattery, it must be sincere, meaningful and with love.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Sincere is the key word here. Starting an email with “I love your work” is not sincere. Anyone can write that (and they do) with zero research whatsoever. So it basically means nothing — or worse — immediately reads as spam.

I’ve written more about how the make honest compliments here. Basically, we as humans are skeptical about big claims. So the more specific you can be in your compliment, the better. The very best compliments focus on the character, actions, or choices of a person.

The very best compliments focus on the character, actions, or choices of a person. Click To Tweet

Another idea is to post a positive review for the person or their work, either on your blog or another public place.

3). Arouse in the other person an eager want.Digital Influence Digital Relationship Advice #3

To get what we want from another person, give honest and sincere appreciation, we must forget our own perspective and begin to see things from the point of view of others. When we can combine our desires with their wants, they become eager to work with us and we can mutually achieve our objectives.

Digital Relationship Action Item: You want them to share your new blog post, but what’s in it for them? Does it align with the interested of her audience? Is the content quality legitimately above and beyond the current average industry knowledge? Make sure you look at your request from the point of view of the other person and speak to the benefits they will get.

Digital Influence: Six Ways to Make People Like You

1). Become genuinely interested in other people.Digital Influence Ways to Make People Like You #1

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.” The only way to make quality, lasting friendships is to learn to be genuinely interested in them and their interests.

Digital Relationship Action Item: When first reaching out to new digital friends / influencers, a good approach is to ask them an opinion on something. If you do this with multiple people at the same time, you can create a new blog post sharing their opinion (as long as you get permission). This is a great way to start a relationship, and also create interesting content at the same time.

2). Smile. Digital Influence Ways to Make People Like You #2

Happiness does not depend on outside circumstances, but rather on inward attitudes. Smiles are free to give and have an amazing ability to make others feel wonderful. Smile in everything that you do.

Digital Relationship Action Item: If your new digital friend does not reply immediately, never, never, never reference that in your future communications. The person is simply very busy. Trying to guilt someone into responding is a terrible idea. Rather, keep the communications positive at all times.

Trying to guilt someone into responding is a terrible idea. Click To Tweet

3). Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.Digital Influence Ways to Make People Like You #3

“The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together.” People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after them. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Personalize your communication to your new friend as much as possible. Use their first name start the email, perhaps even in the subject line (although that seems a little too far to me). It proves you have done some research and likely gets them to read at least your opening sentence.

4). Be a good listener. Ecourage others to talk about themselves.Digital Influence Ways to Make People Like You #4

The easiest way to become a good conversationalist is to become a good listener. To be a good listener, we must actually care about what people have to say. Many times people don’t remember what a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language an entertaining conversation partner; they just want someone who will listen to them.

Digital Relationship Action Item: When you get an opinion (or feedback) from your new friend, continue to ask follow-up questions into the subject matter (assuming you are actually interested, and can speak somewhat knowledgeably). This will continue to show you are on their level, and someone worth interacting with.

5). Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. Digital Influence Ways to Make People Like You #5

The royal road to a person’s heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most. If we talk to people about what they are interested in, they will feel valued and value us in return.

Digital Relationship Action Item: As you find a topic you are both interested in, continue the discussion. Everybody is looking for people to connect with that share the same interested as they do. ESPECIALLY online. The reality is, you likely have a lot in common with your peers in the industry. So have fun interacting with the people you are very similar to!

6). Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.Digital Influence Ways to Make People Like You #6

The golden rule is to treat other people how we would like to be treated. We love to feel important and so does everyone else. People will talk to us for hours if we allow them to talk about themselves. If we can make people feel important in a sincere and appreciative way, then we will win all the friends we could ever dream of.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Use the information you learn from your new friends to create a new blog post on the subject. This way you can highlight their knowledge to the world. They will appreciate you all the more for it!

Digital Influence: Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking

1). The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #1

Whenever we argue with someone, no matter if we win or lose the argument, we still lose. The other person will either feel humiliated or strengthened and will only seek to bolster their own position. We must try to avoid arguments whenever we can.

Digital Relationship Action Item: In these early stages of the relationship, it’s better to find mutual ground on a topic that you can both expand on and grow, rather than trying to prove your intelligence by correcting them on a topic you feel they are wrong.

2). Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re wrong.”Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #2

We must never tell people flat out that they are wrong. It will only serve to offend them and insult their pride. No one likes to be humiliated, we must not be so blunt.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Keep it positive, and keep it growing!

3). If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #3

Whenever we are wrong we should admit it immediately. When we fight we never get enough, but by yielding we often get more than we expected. When we admit that we are wrong people trust us and begin to sympathize with our way of thinking.

Digital Relationship Action Item: We may feel the need to defend a position at times. Nothing good typically happens from this. Take what the other person is saying not as a personal attack, but simply an isolated incident related to this one mistake. Light-heartedly correct it, and move on!

4). Begin in a friendly way. Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #4

“A drop of honey can catch more flies than a gallon of gall.” If we begin our interactions with others in a friendly way, people will be more receptive. Even if we are greatly upset, we must be friendly to influence people to our way of thinking.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Dale really wanted to hammer home the importance of being friendly. Let’s take this as a lesson on how important that must really be. As a perfectionist myself, I am always looking for ways to improve this. So my natural tendency can be toward the critical end of the “always wanting to improve” spectrum.

5). Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #5

Do not begin by emphasizing the aspects in which we and the other person differ. Begin by emphasizing and continue emphasizing the things on which we agree. People must be started in the affirmative direction and they will often follow readily. Never tell someone they are wrong, but rather lead them where we would like them to go with questions that they will answer “yes” to.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Rather than starting by asking the influencer to share your content, engage with them first! Ask them a question on twitter, or comment on their blog! This will start a real relationship, rather than you looking like a spammy promoter.

6). Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #6

People do not like listening to us boast, they enjoy doing the talking themselves. Let them rationalize and talk about the idea, because it will taste much sweeter to them in their own mouth.

Digital Relationship Action Item: We are starting to see how powerful the approach of asking questions can be. Well thought out, specific questions. Dale says so!

7). Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #7

People inherently like ideas they come to on their own better than those that are handed to them on a platter. Ideas can best be carried out by allowing others to think they arrived at it themselves.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Don’t ask them to share your content in the beginning of your relationship. Hopefully, they will see and share it on their own, as you start to include your new friend in some of the content!

8). Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #8

Other people may often be wrong, but we cannot condemn them. We must seek to understand them. Success in dealing with people requires a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Your new digital friend might not share your content right away. And they might not want to let you submit a guest blog. That’s ok. See it from their perspective and you should better understand why (if you are being honest with yourself). Then you can try to adjust your idea or improve your content from there.

9). Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #9

People are hungering for sympathy. They want us to recognize all that they desire and feel. If we can sympathize with others, they will appreciate our side as well and will often come around to our way of thinking.

Digital Relationship Action Item: As you get the opinion and feedback from your new digital friend, try to ask good follow up questions. This way, you will be able to genuinely empathize and connect with their thoughts and ideas, and they will appreciate the good follow up questions.

10). Appeal to the nobler motives.Digital Influence Win People to Your Way of Thinking #10

Everyone likes to be glorious in their own eyes. People believe that they do things for noble and morally upright reasons. If we can appeal to others’ noble motives we can successfully convince them to follow our ideas.

Digital Relationship Action Item: By highlighting your new friend in a blog post, they will appreciate it and be more likely to share your content in the future.

11). Dramatize your ideas.Digital Influence - Win People to Your Way of Thinking

In this fast-paced world, simply stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth must be made vivid, interesting, and dramatic. Television has been doing it for years. Sometimes ideas are not enough and we must dramatize them.

Digital Relationship Action Item: I take this one to mean: always be interesting! This should be easy since everyone is generally interested in their industry. But spend the extra time thinking about interesting current topics, and engage in a fun way.

12). Throw down a challenge. Digital Influence - Win People to Your Way of Thinking2

The thing that most motivates people is the game. Everyone desires to excel and prove their worth. If we want someone to do something, we must give them a challenge and they will often rise to meet it.

Digital Relationship Action Item: Another beauty of asking a well thought out question related to their industry – Everyone wants to prove their worth and intelligence! Throw down a good question and your new digital friend will rise to the challenge (and then be excited to promote it to show off their skills)!

Digital Influence: Conclusion

Genuine relationship building takes time, but the rewards are worth the effort! Did I miss any digital relationship building strategies that have helped you achieve a strong content marketing network?