Valentine’s day is all about special relationships!  With 1 in 5 marriages beginning online, social helps in relationships — both personal and professionally.

Since social tools are relationship builders, while we celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share best practices for connecting and building relationships!

1.   Listen.  Make sure you have social listening tools in place to listen to what people are saying to your company, about your company, and around your category.  To me, this is the most important thing in any relationship, online or offline, is to spend more time listening and understanding that speaking!

2.  Develop Business Relationships.   Focus on trust and adding value to your business relationships online.   I know you’ve heard quality over quantity but it is very important.   Don’t try to have too many relationships that are sparse but deep relationships where you can showcase your value.   The most influence is usually not those with the most friends but those with the deepest relationships that are true.

3.  Be a whole person.    Yes, you don’t want to tweet that you went to get a coffee, but you do want to share some of your personal likes as well.  Afterall, the world has moved beyound B2B, and B2C, but is not on P2P –>  People to People.   For instance, I blogged once on my favorite foods,  spurred on with sporting events like the SuperBowl, and shared my preferences in the Grammies!   This is all part of building a relationship!

4.  Accept and Manage Risk.  You cannot trust everyone, but where you invest your time, you must trust others.  Just manage the risk of sharing information in the way appropriate with your company’s policies.   And make sure you know that this is about friends of friends too!   So the information will spread!  Be smart when you share!

5.   Balance in person and online.  You know I think relationships are strongest when you have met in person.   That personal touch should not be lost.   For instance, I just traveled to Europe and received a thank you note – not tweet.  I loved it!  I loved the tweetup where I got to meet my followers and those I follow!   Balance the two!

Now before Valentine’s Day is over, go out and let your friends know how special they are!!