In my recent post on Blogging in Formation – Lessons from a Goose I promised to write some posts on how to build blogging relationships. This will be the first of numerous posts on the topic.
Before I get straight into strategies about how to make contact with and build mutually beneficial connections with other bloggers let me suggest that a starting point is not about choosing who you want to connect with – but rather that its probably worth doing a little self analysis first. Ask yourself some of these questions:
– Do you have the time and energy to connect with other bloggers?
– Are you willing to be ignored, rejected and even abused by other bloggers?
– Are you willing to be annoyed by other bloggers that you don’t want to connect with?
– What are your motives for building relationships with others?
These questions sound a pretty negative place to start a series on relationships – but I think its important not only to talk about the warm fuzzy stuff of blogging but the cold hard reality that sometimes it can be a cruel environment and a lot of hard work. Blogging has a ‘light side’ but it also has a ‘dark side’ (use the force Luke) and its worth considering both.
Let me tackle each question in turn
Do you have the time and energy to connect with other bloggers? – to make genuine connections with others takes time and energy. Whilst you might enjoy this interaction it is worth counting the cost of it. Every email you send, every comment you leave or answer, every instant message conversation you have takes time – and its time you could be using to do something else (blogging related or not). There are only 24 hours in a day and unless you’re willing to put time into getting to know other bloggers – it might not be worth starting the process. If you do you might find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew and you could do more harm than good.
Are you willing to be ignored, rejected and even abused by other bloggers? – as humans we have the ability to do good things, ‘evil’ things (sorry – I’m getting heavy here) and things all along the spectrum between. Most bloggers are humans (although not always) – and some of them will respond to you with warmth and others will completely ignore you (at best) and ridicule you (at worst). You might even find yourself with a troll who actively works against you at every turn. It’s a bleak picture – but this is the spectrum of reactions you’ll find and if you don’t have the energy to deal with it all then perhaps blogging is not for you.
Are you willing to be annoyed by other bloggers? – make yourself accessible to readers and you might just be creating a monster. It won’t only be the cool bloggers that you admire who get in touch – but sometimes every blogger and his dog wants a piece of you. Again this comes down to a time and energy issue – but it can also be about patience. Over the past couple of years of blogging there have been times when I’ve been close to tearing out what little hair I have left at the requests I’ve received from readers (I’m sure I’ve been on the other side of things too and have been quite annoying to some) – be willing to get frustrated but know that amidst the annoyance (and even through it) can come some very fruitful interactions.
What are your motives for building relationships with others? – this is a very important question to ask and it might even require a bit of soul searching. There are good and bad reasons for building relationships with other bloggers. You can do so because you have a genuine interest in them, want to be involved in a two way learning/sharing experience and would honestly like them to benefit from the relationship also – or you can do so purely for selfish reasons – they have/know/are something you want to have/know/be and you want to manipulate them into giving it to you.
Can I suggest that we all probably have a mix of both of these motivations in our relationships to different degrees – but that if you’re going to connect with other bloggers purely for selfish reasons that you should expect that the relationship will never be as fruitful as it could be. People have a way of seeing through others to their real motivations and they don’t like to be used. Be willing to give as much, if not more, than you get.
Apologies for the negative start to this series – but I thought after my last idealistic one that a bit of balance might have been helpful. Stay tuned for posts (of a more positive nature) more on building relationships with other bloggers over the coming week and feel free to add your own suggestions in comments.
Read the full series on Building Blogging Relationships