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Blogging in Formation – Lessons from a Goose

Canadian-Goose

“Two Heads are better than one”…. or so the old saying goes.

I’ve been reflecting this week about the importance of relationships in blogging.

I met up with an old university friend this week for the first time since we studied marketing together – catching up stimulated me to begin thinking about the style of business we were taught. Whilst its a little fuzzy (we did spend a bit too much time in the pub) I do seem to remember sitting through lecturers that talked about competition and the ways to ‘beat your competitors’. The main thrust of a lot of what we were taught was to get ahead of the competition by developing the best products, getting the best people and accumulating the best information. The only interaction you’d have with competitors was when you were laying the boot into them (figuratively speaking). The motto was to win at all costs – me first – others second.

Blogging has reminded me of another way of doing business – an ancient way of actually connecting with others in your field and working together for the mutual good of both parties.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from blogging over the past year is that often its when I give something away that I gain the most. It is when I’ve linked to others, provided a way of highlighting the projects of fellow bloggers, when I’ve spent a couple of hours giving free advice to a new blogger or when I’ve shared my biggest secrets – these are the moments that often I end up in a time of real growth on my blogs.

A wise guy once said - ‘Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor.’

Warning: Tangent Ahead – Lessons from a Goose

geese.jpgScientists have found that geese flying in formation can travel around 78% further in a session than geese flying solo. Working together on the task of flying is beneficial in a number of ways:

  • Aerodynamic Formation - The V formation of geese is a way that maximizes the energy expended by those flying as part of it. The bird at the front of the flock breaks the air for those flying behind it and creates a slipstream for them to be dragged along in. The birds behind also help those in front as the upward motion of their wing also creates an upward draft that propels them forward. This push/pull relationship ensures all birds in the formation benefit from the work of others.
  • Rotating Leadership – Even with the pushing effect of those behind it – the front bird uses the most energy and becomes tired more quickly than others. The geese know that and instinctively rotate leadership of the flock – allowing tired birds who have used a lot of energy for the sake of the flock to take a rest and be dragged a long for a while until it is there next turn up front.
  • Dropping out of the Flock – as a result of sickness or injury a bird will occasionally begin to fall away from the flock – unable to keep up. Instead of allowing this bird to fly on alone – at least two others will always drop out of the flock with it. This ensures that the injured bird will be defended and cared for until it is ready to resume flying – and that it will fly on with the benefit of flying in formation.
  • Power of the Honk – From the ground the V formation of the geese is a beautiful thing to watch – serenely gliding across the sky these birds look quite majestic and peaceful. However get up into the flock and you find its quite a noisy affair with the geese constantly honking at one another. There are numerous theories about this honking and it could be partly about letting each other know where they are so there is no midair collisions) but many believe that this honking is actually about creating an environment of success and mutual encouragement. It reminds me of when I used to play football at school and before the game would begin all the boys would gather in the locker room to whip themselves into a frenzy – shouting meaningless stuff about what they’d do to the opposition, slapping each other on the back (and bums) and basically creating an environment where we thought we could conquer the world.

As a result of some of these dynamics the geese can fly amazing distances without stopping for rest – so much further than if they tried to do it alone.

End of Tangent

Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed bloggers naturally gathering together in clusters (or flocks) around common themes and interests. In doing so they tap into some of the power of blogging in formation. They link to one another, stimulate and build upon each others thinking, encourage each other and even at times show real generosity to those who are struggling (in their blogging or real life). The result can be incredibly dynamic.

I’ve been a part of a variety of these clusters (around different topics) over the past couple of years and am amazed at how being a little intentional about getting alongside other bloggers to push or pull them forward can actually end up growing your blog incredibly.

The past few months have been wonderful as I’ve flown into a new flock of bloggers – blogging about professional blogging. This flock is a reasonably new one and is still finding its identity and rhythm of flight – but already I’m sensing the dynamics of the gees coming into play as bloggers grow in their trust for one another (you don’t just suddenly fly in formation – it takes practice – ask any fighter pilot). Over the past weeks I’ve seen bloggers almost fall out of formation, only to be propped up by others, I’ve seen bloggers honking loud encouragements to one another and really feel that our little flock is cutting into new ground.

Time will tell how far we’ll fly together but to be honest I’m feeling really excited about the community that is emerging.

I believe that as we work together and build relationships we can make a significant difference – not only on our own blogging and lives but upon the wider blogging community. Lets keep working at building relationships and working together, lets lend a hand to each other and each take on some responsibility for breaking new ground, lets watch out for those who are struggling and help them stay in touch and lets create an environment of success – honk a little – encourage another blogger – display a random act of blogging kindness and see how it helps us all to fly a little further.

Over the next few days I’m going to write a mini series of posts on how to build relationships with other bloggers (a couple of you have suggested this recently) – I really believe its one of the keys to a successful and profitable blog – stay tuned – and in the mean time – Blog like a Goose!

Read the full series on Building Blogging Relationships

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. John Evans says:

    Terrific post, Darren. It’s always good to reflect that we’re not isolates in this amazingly connected world. I’ll try to honk a little more in future. :-)

  2. moose says:

    Honk! Honk! Honk!

  3. Shai says:

    It actually amazes me why a lot of people forget about “relationships” when they’re talking about money.

  4. jim says:

    Shai, It’s even more amazing when you think about how little money it takes for people to forget these relationships…

  5. Darren Rowse says:

    it is amazing – especially when you realise that relationships are the key to making money in many instances – think of the multiple relationships a successful blogger has – with readers, with other bloggers, with advertisers….

    I’d put interpersonal/social/relational skills high on the ‘must have’ list of a good problogger.

  6. Before the desire to make money at this struck, the relationships and interaction (not always positive..hehe..) were my primary motivation for me to blog. Thanks for bringing that thought to the forefront Darren!

  7. Satish Talim says:

    Terrific post.

  8. Ken says:

    There is a mantra that the best people want to share with others.

    It’s obvious part of your success comes from helping others. If people said you were the biggest SOB on the planet, I wouldn’t be inclined to visit your site. But just from reading your posts and the few times you’ve sent e-mails, it’s obvious you like to see others succeed.

    In turn and that makes me want to see you succeed by recommending your blog to others (mainly off-line).

    People want to work with others they can get along with and share the same values.

    It’s good business sense.

  9. Nicole Simon says:

    And with world wide networks around the world, a 24h blogging cycle is ensured. :))

  10. Allen Heat says:

    “when I’ve spent a couple of hours giving free advice to a new blogger or when I’ve shared my biggest secrets – these are the moments that often I end up in a time of real growth on my blogs.”

    Yeah…you never forgot the “smal” people, eventhough you got so big that you don’t even need them….that’s one of the reasons i expect problogger to become on of the *real* top sites on the net…

    Heatl

  11. Thanks for the VERY inspirational post. And, for the record, I loved the tangent. You’re a gem.

  12. Solid as always. You mentioned how cooperation has recently returned to advertising. Along with that it’s clear that transparency and intimacy is beginning to trump traditional professionalism. Case in point: you just wrote a post with a high school memory and it’s going to be passed around the web as if it’s a handbook for corporate success.

    Go you.

  13. Darren Rowse says:

    thanks all – I appreciate your appreciation and feedback!

  14. Vix says:

    Wonderful post, a true reflection on how blogging about blogging should be.

  15. Toby says:

    One of the greatest benefits of blogging is developing a global network of colleagues. Looking forward to your series.

  16. Swade says:

    As an AFL indoctrinated Aussie (go Blues!!), I can appreciate the honesty and humour in including the patted bums reference. Anyone who sees AFL football for the first time wonders about it, but when you’re used to it it doesn’t look strange at all. Funny thing, if they ever did it to each other at the pub, there’d probably be a brawl.

  17. Jason says:

    Great post. It’s funny you said this. When I thought I lost my job one day (it’s a long story), a blogger friend of mine offered to send me a large sum of money. I’ll always remember that.

    Cheers,

    JP

  18. Coldie says:

    Yeah… A very GOOD article… Thanks for sharing :-)

  19. I believe that as we work together and build relationships we can make a significant difference – not only on our own blogging and lives but upon the wider blogging community.Time will tell how far we’ll fly together but to be honest I’m feeling really excited about the community that is emerging.

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