How many friends do you have now? Actually real live friends?

Those who would jump out of bed in the middle of the night to help you no matter what the problem was? Not the virtual friends who make nice comments on your Facebook page, but those who make your life better for simply knowing them.

I have just finished reading ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People in the Digital Age’ by Dale Carnegie and Associates, and was reminded how virtual friends appear to be almost replacing the traditional physical real life ones. We spend time generating ‘likes’ and retweeting in order to be seen as a friend. Dale Carnegie would be saddened to see the process by which we connect to each other on a huge virtual scale sometimes without any of the sincerity we practice in our everyday relationships.

It is a marketing minefield of how to be seen in the digital age. From using the correct profile picture – you must be smiling to be seen as approachable – to automating your output for maximum effect. Do we really know the person behind the virtual avatar that has been created?

And does it matter?

As long as your next potential client sees you with 100 ‘likes’ to your page or 1000 followers, that translates into a person who is good at their job – doesn’t it?

We all conform to the acceptable norms of our society, social media is now THE way to promote our business, and in most cases is free to access – what’s not to like?

All I would say is to remember what sort of friend you are in the real world. Keep those values with you in the virtual world too. Don’t be one person in the business world and another in your off time. The person who made a friend at school and who kept that friendship alive and vibrant through all of the years should be translating some of that loyalty and perseverance into the virtual world.

If we are to collaborate successfully on and off line we need to demonstrate our values and beliefs to those who can access our profiles as well as when meeting them in person. The passion you have in your business is far easier to demonstrate in person than it is via a Tweet or Pin board. Although video is the next best thing. No amount of on line activity can replace the face to face, getting to know you stage in a relationship – business or otherwise.

So, go and count your friends, the real ones – they are your blessings, and hopefully you are a blessing to them too. Now look at why you are friends, and why they value your friendship and find out how you can emulate that in the virtual world. Be sincere in all of your dealings. Be the person you want others to look up to. Be genuine, sincere, give value, give support, Be helpful and above all in a virtual world BE real.