Relationship building in a traditional work setting - whether with customers or team mates - is easy.
Together, you can attend meetings, go out for lunch, and travel to conferences, etc. However, when you work remotely, you are typically isolated, having to build relationships solely through email in a home or office setting.
The question is, how can you better your professional relationship-building when working remotely, either from home or from a different country?
Call regularly on the phone.
Although emails are a great way to communicate on a daily basis, it is important to get to know your clients and team mates more personally; if you cannot meet in person, then using the phone is the best alternative.
When I first start working with someone, one of my favourite techniques is to speak with them via a phone call, usually on Skype. A phone call is a great way to get to know the people I am working with, and it goes a long way in helping me understand who they are.
Making it a habit to call them every few months to keep the relationship going, as email does not quite manage, has become something I try to do.
Write personal emails.
In my emails, I often mention what I'm up to and attempt to make them more personal. As an example, I can tell you about the weather and my activities over the weekend. By using this, my contacts can gain a better understanding of me, which can be beneficial in creating rapport with clients.
It is not always suitable, obviously. In cases where some clients are very direct and to the point in their emails, I try to mimic their style in order to build rapport.
Provide your Social Media information
In my emails to clients and team members, I often provide a link to my social media accounts and blog, so they can view my more casual side if they choose. Afterwards, I will investigate if they have a blog or a social presence, and if so, I will dedicate some time to familiarize myself with them through those means. By communicating with someone in this manner, you can often gain greater insight into their character.
I make video calls.
Though I don't always opt for video calls, they can be an incredibly beneficial means of getting to know someone better. In comparison to just listening and speaking to people, seeing them in person is better; furthermore, video calls make it possible to hold meetings with multiple people. This is once again a great way to build relationships.
Make sure to show that you appreciate them.
By sending season's greetings, birthday messages, and thank-you messages to my contacts, I demonstrate that I value them, either as customers or as members of my team. Sending the occasional email to outsourcers expressing your appreciation for their hard work, as well as sending messages to your clients expressing how much you enjoy working with them, will be beneficial if you decide to hire outsourcers. Building relationships, even when only interacting through email, is aided by all of this.
Create stronger connections.
The above ideas should provide you with some strategies for developing relationships with your colleagues when working remotely, if you are concerned about that aspect of the job. You may have to put in more effort to create solid business connections, but this can be a rewarding and enjoyable part of the job and should never be an impediment to succeeding when you're working from home.