I love connecting with people. It is the joy of meeting someone new who adds to both of our lives through the connection that motivates me on a daily basis. Going to a networking event, meeting someone for coffee, retweeting them, connecting through personal messages on Facebook, Skype conferences, and Oovoo video conferences. No matter the medium I like communicating with other people and then eventually connecting them with other groups or people that I know.

So tonight I want to talk about the intimacy of meeting other business professionals whether online or in person. I believe that creating an intimacy with your future business partners, clients, and vendors online is key to your success in business.

While discussing this with some really, really smart people we all sort of came to a conclusion about how we built a relationship using social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. There were 4 common themes that happened in the process of building a relationship that we feel is as strong or stronger than any connection we can build face to face.

First, there is the initial phase that happens through a connection online. It could be from a comment thread, or it could be the simple act of connecting with someone, or retweeting their information. It is the audition period of the relationship where everything you say, write, or post can and will be used against you. It is the early trial phase that allows you to determine whether this is someone you want to work with.

Second, you have the next step that steps up the communication to chats, one to one messages, etc in order to build a relationship. Once you connect with someone in this first phase you then want to create a stronger one on one bond. The relationship continues in this way as people continue to feel each other out and determine whether you really are as trustworthy as your tweets or posts.

That brings us to the Third Step: Audio. Once you are deemed trustworthy there is the first of two shifts that take you into a full-blown relationship. The shift happens when you start communicating audibly. You talk on the phone or Skype with each other as your professional relationship builds and you take the intimacy from the social networking sites into the “real” world. This is the first step to building a lasting relationship through social networking as you have rounded out the relationship with a more personal form of communication. Also, it indicates that the other person trusts you enough to talk to you, but might still have some hesitancy before taking the full leap into a business relationship.

The Fourth Step is Video or personal contact. At this stage you take all of your experiences with this person and let them combine, so that the intimacy that was created in steps 1, 2, and 3 have created a bond between you and your new business relationship. You interact either through video in order to see each other in real time or actually meet face to face (when possible) to experience the bonding that comes from hanging out with each other.

Social media intimacy is crucial towards your success building relationships on social networking sites. The ability to relate to others through long distance communications has become a critical skill to those looking to grow their business. Create a professional intimacy with those you meet online and your business will grow with your new-friends.