Building relationships with people in online business is important, yep. Those relationships may one day result in customers, downline members, business collaborations of some sort – all kinds of possibilities can evolve from building relationships with folks.

What is quite possibly even more important, however, is how you treat and maintain those relationships once they’re developed.

I have had a few anecdotes regarding related issues on the back burner and in the back of my mind for a little while since my return to TE land. In my head, some of those anecdotes have become darn near pet peeves, or at the very least, very specific DON’Ts – as in “Dos and Don’ts” – and this next little true story would be the first of a couple or three DON’Ts.

As most everyone knows, I was pretty much 100% gone from TE land, and most of the online business world altogether, for well over two and a half years.

Recently, I had the rather dumbfounding and perplexing experience of being directly pitched to on Skype – without a “hi” and/or “how are ya” first, or a “wow Lynn, where have you been”, nor anything of the sort – by someone who absolutely should have been aware that they hadn’t spoken/typed to me in three years.

And oh, it was a pitch, all right – the obvious beginnings of what would have no doubt been a super sales-y sounding pitch. (Fortunately I didn’t have to hear the rest of it since I didn’t respond.)

I was just so surprised and dumbfounded at that moment that I just sat staring at my monitor for a while with my jaw dropped wide open.

What I really wanted to type back was, “Are you kidding me?” – but of course I didn’t. I let it go.

In any case, while it’s highly unlikely that I would buy anything from this person or ever follow them into any program (for a rather lengthy and wide variety of reasons that are not worth the trouble of telling), you may correctly deduce that this experience has resulted in me basically being no longer in this person’s “sphere of influence”.

Not that I really ever was all that much anyway, obviously, at least not in a very long time. But you can certainly bet that, in the future, even if this person is selling or promoting the very best thing in the world ever, that I really, really need?

Absolutely I will go out of my way to seek that thing out from someone else I know, like, and trust. And if nobody I know has it? I’ll seek it out from someone I don’t know, but has it.

I’ll go out of my way to buy from, or sign up under, pretty much anyone but the person who absolutely should have known I was gone for years, but was too clueless (or, probably more likely, too focused on program hopping and sales and signups and the “next big thing”) to have even the remotest idea that they had had no interaction whatsoever with me since 2010.

Online business is becoming more and more a “people business” instead of a “sales leads business”, and I think what’s been a fine line of sorts between the two is going to keep becoming a more and more widening gulf as time goes on. Sales and signups will come and go, and there will always be names without faces on your list who remain mostly anonymous and outside of the various online communities because that’s part of how online business just is.

But people that you build tangible relationships with and interact with and, in some cases, are colleagues of sorts with? They will remember good things about you, or good advice or help you gave them, and things like that.

But I guarantee they will also remember other things, like being too clueless to notice if you’re gone for three years.

Treat people like people, instead of treating everybody you come into contact with like sales leads, and the sales and signups will most likely flow in return. Maybe at a bit slower pace than the hardcore sales folks, but they’re likely to steadily flow indefinitely and forever, as long as you treat people like people instead of leads.

Treat all the contacts on your Skype or IM list or social media friends and contacts lists like a sales lead? Most of them won’t be able to buy from or sign up under someone else fast enough.

You might still retain them as a “contact”, but they probably might as well not be – and chances are they’ll never, ever, ever be your customer or in your downline in the future.