Today I spent a little more time reading Darby Checkett’s ‘Leverage‘ (aff) and was drawn to a chapter titled ‘The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make’.
Darby’s book is about how to achieve ‘tipping points’ through different leverages and this chapter focusses upon Relationships as one of those leverages.
Early in this chapter he refers to all the other leverages that he’s talked about as being ‘personal power factors’ and goes on to identify relationships as having ‘the multiplier effect’ (sounds like something out of a bad Si-Fi movie or something). Let me hand over to Darby for a quote (from page 97):
‘The minute you involve others in your vision, the minute your desire impact others, all your personal power factors will benefit from the multiplier effect. This is real leverage. it is obvious that, when you alone hold a visioin, you speak with one small voice. When you recruit others to the cause, you speak with a high fidelity, mega-watt sound system.’
Ultimately Darby isn’t saying anything new in this quote (or chapter) but he does put his finger on an incredibly powerful factor that I think most successful bloggers have stumbled upon (sometimes intentionally and something by accident).
One of the reasons for the viral like growth of the whole blogosphere is that it’s relational in its very nature (having comments, interlinking, conversational style) – but if you look at many individual successful blogs you’ll find that they often take this relational focus to the next level with significant impact (the more voices spreading the ‘message’ the further it will go).
They do this through many techniques including:
- Adding Authors – quite a few of the bigger emerging blogs going around at the moment have been adding new bloggers and moving to a group blog approach.
- Networks/Rings/Cooperatives – there are many examples of bloggers drawing together different types of networks of blogs.
- Memes – involving other bloggers in projects and memes builds the interaction and relationships between both the blogger and their readers – but also between readers (creating some level of community – or perceived community)
- Comments – some bloggers seem to use comments (and other tools like chat, forums, polls etc) especially effectively and draw readers into a very active interaction with their blogs
A Word of Warning
There is a flip side to relationships that should also be considered.
While being in relationship with lots of people and drawing them into your blog can help to multiply the messages you wish to spread, this is only a good thing if you’re able to maintain the relationships. If you’re not able to maintain them you actually run the risk of the same network of relationships working against you.
There are many books written solely upon how to build relationships but Darby’s 4 suggestions are a nice starting point and I think apply quite well to relational blogging:
1. Give it Time – relationships of all types take time to grow and don’t just happen. I find this applies on two levels – firstly the longevity of relationships can impact their depth but secondly the amount of time you regularly put into building relationships has a massive impact upon them.
This is a massive challenge for many of us who are busy people. If there was one thing I wish I had more time to do it would be for building relationships with bloggers. I find that the longer I blog and the bigger readerships that my blogs have the harder this is.
2. Show Flexibility – in this Darby talks about ‘reserving judgement’ and getting past the first impressions that others give you (because they can be very inaccurate). This is very true and I can think of numerous instances when my first impression of another blogger was not good but where I found through persisting with them that they were actually wonderful people.
Once again – this is a challenge, especially in a medium like blogging where it is very easy to make a snap judgement on another person based upon a single idea that they have without looking deeper into who they are and what they stand for. I get frustrated when others do this to me but know it’s something I’m guilty of also.
3. Gain Knowledge – this extends the ‘show flexibility’ principle really and encourages us to look deeper into who the other person is and where they are coming from.
‘Walk a mile in their shoes…’
I’m very challenged by this not only in blogging but in life in general at the moment. People deserve respect. They are more than their latest post. People change and should be allowed to do so. People are more than just a name on a screen somewhere.
4. Communicate – I doubt there is a book written on relationships that doesn’t talk about communication skills. I know when I do pre-marriage counseling with couples that the two main things we tend to focus upon are communication skills and conflict resolution skills – if you’ve got those in place you can get through most things.
Ironically, I think this is something we as bloggers could learn a thing or two about. I say it’s ironic because blogging is all about communication. The problem is that despite us spending so much time into thinking about how we communicate via our blog posts that so many of us are really bad at communicating with each other one on one, especially when we disagree (just check the latest flaming comment thread that you saw for proof of this).