What is the best way to grow your business and audience online? You might be surprised with my answer.

In this episode, I’m sharing with you the key to growing your business online. This one thing helped me meet and exceed my revenue goals when I first started my service-based business. And it’s something that many people overlook in the online space, especially when trying to achieve “passive income”.

So, you may be wondering: what is it?? The best way to grow your business online is through people & relationships!

Real, authentic relationships are the key to growing your business online.

Real relationships have the power to do things that marketing strategies, systems, and tools cannot do.

Relationships and people are one of the points of the Shine Online Framework that I discussed in Episode 2, and today I want to go a little deeper into how to actually build these relationships.

Esther Littlefield and Carrie Sharpe

Carrie Sharpe and I at the Lakeside Women’s Conference

Are online relationships real?

The reason that I think many people forget about or overlook this piece is the assumption that online relationships are not the same as in person relationships.

Most people would agree that if you want to be an effective business person in your local community, for example, that you need to focus on building relationships with people in your area. That’s one of the reasons people go to networking groups and Chamber of Commerce events. Because many times, the business revenue follows the relationship.

But online, it can feel… different. 

In fact, many of us are wrestling through this issue with the whole COVID-19 crisis. If you’re involved in a church, it’s likely your church has stopped in person services, at least for a time. And the church has had to suddenly navigate the world of online interaction.

In a recent meeting discussing some of these issues, one person voiced that you cannot build real relationships online. And while I do agree that there is something different about in person church services, in person conferences, concerts, etc…. I disagree that one cannot build real relationships online.

The challenge is that something that attracts many of us to the online space is anonymity. The freedom to essentially hide behind a screen. If you are an introvert, especially, you might like the option to work at home and not have a conversation with another person all day.

But in order to truly grow your business online, you must be willing to work at developing real relationships. And you must look at each blog reader, each podcast download, each client, each purchaser of your ebook… as an individual person. 

And while you won’t be able to have real relationships with each of them, you can operate with the understanding that there are real people on the other side of the screen.

I’ve developed real relationships with many people online, and two of the people I share about in this episode are Natalie Gingrich of The Ops Authority and Carrie Sharpe of He Says, She Says.

Esther Littlefield and Natalie Gingrich

Natalie Gingrich and I at the Get it Done Gathering


Who do you need to build relationships with?

There are 3 categories of people you need to have relationships with in the online space:

1. Your ideal audience

This is super important, because it helps you to really figure out who your ideal person is. When you take the time to get to know them, you will be able to understand their needs and their pain points. You won’t be guessing at what they want but rather making an informed decision. You’ll be creating content that they love because you are listening to what they are talking about and needing help with.

2. Colleagues

These are people who might do something similar or complementary to you. Instead of looking at these people as competitors, often you can see them as collaborators. 

Many times, you can find people in this category that have a similar audience to you, but they offer something different. The idea is not to steal business from them but to provide something to their audience that they are not already offering.

3. Your mentors

Lastly I think you should try to develop relationships with people who are a few (or several) steps ahead of you in the online world. This means that you are finding a few key mentors who you look up to and admire.

You may develop a relationship with them in a different way than the past 2 categories. You may need to invest money into joining their program or coaching or course in order to build some kind of connection. And usually this relationship is not going to be the same as someone who is your “biz bestie.” 

Principles for developing real relationships online

  • Be yourself
  • Be helpful
  • Set aside ulterior motives
  • Find common ground 
  • Stay humble
  • Engage
  • Ask

Building relationships online is truly a key factor in growing your business and your audience. I hope that the ideas and principles I shared here will help you in growing your business and your audience online.

Esther Littlefield and Christa Hutchins at Spark

Christa Hutchins and I at the Spark Christian Podcast Conference


How to Start Partnering With Others

If you are ready to take it a step further, check out the free Growing Together workshop from my friend Christa Hutchins taking place on July 16, 2020.

In this workshop, you will:

  • Discover how to identify and engage with like-minded partners
  • Learn to use the pitch email template that will make them jump to say yes
  • Find out what God says about your fear of rejection (and other mindsets that keep you stuck, working alone)

She will also let you know about her course: Better Together: Growing Your Influence and Impact Through Collaboration. I am an affiliate for this course as I know and trust Christa, and I know she will bring great value to you even if you just attend the free workshop.

Click here or go to christianwomanbusiness.com/partner to sign up!

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