Image by Michael Sarver
Yesterday we looked at 12 techniques and tools for networking with other bloggers. Today I want to move on to look at some general principles of building relationships with bloggers that I think are important. I’ve covered these previously here on the blog but have updated the following from last time I covered this.
1. Be Generous
A lot of the networking that I see going on between bloggers is fairly much about ‘taking’ rather than ‘giving’. One way to make a real impression on another person is to be generous with them. Help THEM achieve THEIR goals – highlight their best work – encourage them – go out of your way to work on their terms. While you do need to have good boundaries (otherwise people will abuse your generosity) a spirit of generosity is the right attitude to go into networking with. Whatever you do don’t start your interaction with another blogger asking them to link to you, add you to their blogroll etc – start with something that helps them.
2. Don’t Expect too much too Quick
The most fruitful relationships that I’ve been a part of in blogging have emerged over time. Let the relationship grow naturally as you build trust and a mutual understanding of who the other person is and how you can work together. It is like real life relationships, if you rush in you could scare the other person off.
3. Be Transparent
Don’t attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of those you’re wanting to network with. If you want something out of the relationship – be up front about it. DO show what the other bloggers gets (mutually beneficial interactions are best) but don’t hide the fact that you benefit also.
4. Work with Bloggers on Your ‘Level’
Many so called ‘A-lister’ bloggers are approached all day long with requests to connect. While you might get lucky – I’ve found that approaching slightly less know blogs can have more chance of working out (and they can still drive a lot of traffic and over time you can help each other grow into the next wave of A-listers).
5. Prove Yourself First
If you’re brand new to your niche it can take time to make an impression. This isn’t necessarily because people are being cliquey – it’s often because they’re waiting to see if you’re going to stick with it and if you know what you’re talking about. There’s nothing more frustrating that networking with someone who disappears a couple of weeks later. Show you’re in it for the long haul and that your blog is making a contribution to the niche and you’ll find people more willing to connect.
6. Persist But Don’t Annoy
Some bloggers will take a few emails or conversations before they’ll warm up to you. There’s a lot of noise around the blogosphere so don’t be offended if people don’t respond – try again in a little while – but don’t stalk them!
7. Look in Neighboring Niches
It is important with blog networking to interact with other bloggers in your own niche – however don’t close yourself to relationships with bloggers outside of your niche – particularly in those that neighbor yours. When you limit yourself just to other bloggers exactly like yours you will end up dealing mainly with people who could see you as a direct competitor. While some will be open to interacting with you I’ve found networking with people outside my niche can be fruitful. Another way to be strategic is to not look for networking opportunities just with other bloggers on your topic – but with bloggers who share a similar demographic of reader.
8. Ask Questions
One key that I’ve found to work in networking is to ask a lot of questions of those around you. Some bloggers go into networking with obvious agendas and goals but fail to listen to the other party. When you become a person who asks others about their goals and objectives, where you know what their strengths and weaknesses are and where you know their dreams you not only create a good impression on them but you’ll be in a great position to know where your situation aligns with another person’s – this is where networking becomes most effective to both parties.
9. Become a Go-To Person and a Connector
As you network with others don’t just focus upon you and the other person – but attempt to draw others into the relationships you have. I find that people are particularly grateful to me when I can’t help them but point them to someone else who can. This creates a good impression upon both of the parties that you connect which can lead them to come to you again with opportunities (ie you become the ‘go to’ person because they know you’ll either help them personally or point them to someone who can).
10. Have an Elevator Pitch
Much has been written about business people being able to articulate what they do in a concise statement (having your elevator pitch). I think being able to do this is important with blog networking too. I get many emails every day from people wanting tow work together in some way and in many cases it’s a few minutes into an email that I even work out who they are and what they are on about. Develop a few key sentences that describe who you are, what you do and what you offer others. Another good elevator pitch is on what your blog is about. Having thought through these things will help others understand what you can bring to a relationship – but they will also help you understand that too.
11. Look for Points of Synergy
Perhaps this says more about my personality type, but I’ve found the most profitable relationships to be ones where there was a ‘spark’ or ‘energy’ around our interaction – particularly where there was some sort of synergy around goals and objectives but also some sort of a connection when it comes to personality. My style has always been to look for points of ‘energy’ or ‘synergy’ and going with them. Perhaps someone else has a more technical description of this but it’s worked well for me.
12. Break out of the ‘Virtual’
Today I checked my PO Box and found three items there that were from other bloggers. One was a birthday card, another a T-Shirt and another a book. I didn’t ask for any of them and didn’t know of any of the bloggers previously – but I now do. Sometimes the physical act of sending something to another blogger can break the ‘virtual’ feel of relationships
13. Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin
I’ve shared a dozen techniques on how to network with bloggers above. These activities alone could fill up your day completely and leave you no time to actually blog. It’s important not to spread yourself too thinly. I’d recommend using just a few of the techniques that apply best to your personality and niche – and to start with just a few other bloggers. While the temptation is to interact with hundreds of bloggers, you’ll make a much better impression if you’re able to interact fully with just a few.
14. Batch Social Networking
A lot of bloggers are familiar with ‘batch writing’ (or writing a lot of posts all at once in a single session to free up the rest of their time for other activities) but it can also be useful to set aside specific time for networking. I tend to set aside my mornings for writing content for my blog and then late morning and late evenings switch to ‘networking’ mode. This is when I tend to use Twitter most, check emails, get on IM etc. Otherwise networking spills out into everything you do – which can be fun but not very effective.
15. Make Invitations for Networking
It is highly likely that there are already other bloggers in your niche that are within your sphere of influence without you knowing about it. I learned this a few years back on my photography blog when on the spur of the moment one day I made a post inviting other bloggers to leave the URL of their blog in the comments of that post. Later that day I logged onto my blog to find 12 bloggers had left links to their blogs. I emailed each one personally to thank them and see if there was any way that I could assist them in their blogging – quite a few of those bloggers became good friends. I’d never have known of most of them unless I’d invited them to connect on my blog.
16. Go Beyond the One-On-One Interactions
Here’s another idea that is still forming in my mind (feel free to develop it further). What I’m beginning to notice is that my own networking is more effective when it isn’t just a one on one thing. Sometimes there’s more energy and a faster development of relationships when a group of bloggers begin to interact with one another. This happens on social sites/services (like Twitter) but also in forums, networking events and even comments sections of blogs. Perhaps approaching two or three bloggers at a time would be more effective than approaching just one.
17. Make Deposits in the Relationship Bank
In relationship counseling I often used a ‘bank’ analogy with couples. To get money out of your savings bank account you first need to deposit money in. If all you do is make withdrawals you’ll end up going into overdraft and will hurt your relationship with your bank. The same is true with relationships of all kinds. They need to be give and take but in the early days I think there’s a special need for ‘deposits’. This comes back to the ‘generosity’ tips I started this section with – well worth repeating as it’s so important in the development of any relationship.
Tomorrow I will conclude this series of tips on building relationships with bloggers with some tips on the topic from some of my blogging friends (I thought it was only appropriate for a topic like this to involve my own network). In the mean time – I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.
What Do YOU Think?
What part does networking with other bloggers play in your blogging? How do you go about it? What principles would you add to the list above? Which principles that I’ve mentioned apply or don’t apply to you?