In this world of online living, meeting friends – or even mates – online is no longer outside the mainstream. We make little distinction between online buddies and those who live across the street. And we often feel more connected to these virtual friends than we do with the people we encounter in person. It makes sense to reach out to your online connections when looking for an accountability partner. Here are some points to consider:
Pros: Teaming up with a “virtual” partner is the ultimate in convenience. You don't have to live near each other – or even in the same time zone – so your pool of potential partners is almost limitless. Also, you can keep your conversations very targeted, and thereby cut down on the amount of time it takes to connect. If you correspond via e-mail, you can catch up when it's convenient for you, and not have to worry about coordinating schedules.
Cons: The anonymity of the internet means that people aren't always what they present themselves to be (just ask anyone who's gone on a date with someone they've met via on online dating service!). Your 45-year-old marketing specialist could turn out to be a 12-year-old wunderkid with a laptop and too much spare time. Or worse, your accountability partner may have claimed to be making a certain amount online and so you take his or her advice – not knowing that she's stretched the truth considerably and is really only making pennies. Also, connecting virtually makes it easier to drop the ball; the guilt for taking an extra day or two to respond to an email is nothing compared to standing your partner up for your weekly coffee meeting.
Suggestions: The best way to protect yourself and make sure your partnership is a successful one is to really get to know your partner. Pick someone you've had a positive relationship with for a while, hopefully even someone who you've met in person at a seminar or conference, rather than hooking up with someone unknown. You're going to be sharing details about your life and your business with this person, so take the time to establish a preliminary level of trust before baring your soul. You might even consider getting recommendations from some of the people they've worked with before or have known for a while. It may sound like overkill, but the risk is high enough to make the extra diligence worthwhile.
Finding an accountability partner online is extremely common and has proven successful for many marketers. It's so easy to connect with people of a similar mindset that you probably already have several potential partners in your immediate online circle already.