Just like almost every other 20-something out there, I have found myself almost (but not quite) obsessed with Facebook. Reading the snarky comments one person leaves for another, looking at the funny “Pieces of Flare” being sent to friends for extra points, looking at the embarrassing “tagged” photos of long lost friends, and standing in shock and awe at the updates made to a person's status…especially that very telling “Relationship Status”. That got me thinking, even in the world of affiliate marketing, I am constantly updating (though not as publicly as Facebook) my professional “Relationship Status” with the affiliates I work with daily.
There is one Facebook “Relationship Status” that I think perfectly outlines the professional relationships we juggle, especially in the world of Affiliate Marketing. That “Relationship Status” option? “It’s Complicated.” Yup, it’s complicated. It can be really difficult at times to strike that harmonious balance of likeable, friendly person, and hard-nosed, follows-the-rules business person. The reality is, our affiliate relationships are not that different from our personal ones. They both take time to develop, they both require brutal honesty at times, and they both require attention to detail. When it comes to our affiliate relationships, we have to be willing to risk being the bad guy for the sake of good business, just like we do in personal relationships for the sake of someone’s well being. At the same time, it is great to get to know your affiliates on a similar level to your personal friends: Do they have families? What are their kids' names? What are they doing this weekend? When in the world are they going to send you the awful photo of themselves that made it in the HS yearbook? Obviously there are lines to be drawn in the professional world—the difference is that those lines are more clearly drawn for you than the ones you establish in your personal life.
In the end, a relationship is a relationship. Some are very fluid, and some present bumps along the road. One thing I’ve learned in my…ehem…20 something years, is that by developing a relationship, you increase the opportunity for understanding and cooperation in every situation, and let’s face it, even in the world of affiliate marketing, understanding and cooperation can be 2 of the most important factors in maintaining a successful relationship. I just have to remember, in both my personal and professional relationships, it’s alright to admit that “It’s Complicated”.