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17 Principles of Building Good Relationships With Bloggers

building-relationships-bloggers-2.jpgImage 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?

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. Del Sauzo says:

    I wish someone had told me this earlier. I had to learn most of them the hard way.
    I consider anybody just starting out who reads this as being really lucky.
    …And yet there’s still a lot of new stuff to learn.
    Excellent post.
    KEEP IT UP !!!

  2. Absolutely True! Many newbie bloggers face a lot of difficulties when they start their blog. Same was the case with me, in the beginning i had to face a tough time, but finally its getting better day by day.

    Thanks for such a great post!

  3. Mike Werner says:

    True, as bloggers we can’t survive alone. We need alliances and support from our peers. Anyone who thinks they can go alone, will end up stopping.

    I’ve created a blogger group for my niche market. Called MBI (Motorcycle Bloggers International), I created it initially to get like-minded bloggers together to create an annual award. One blogger site awarding the motorcycle industry is a bit weak. Now close to 200 sites, the industry is taking note.

    MBI has grown for the last 3 years, from just the award, to a full fledged support group with our own discussion forum. We help each other, we’re sounding boards and plan activities.

    It works very well, and there are more and more blogs joining every month. It’s one of the best networking options available…

  4. I feel like you’re addressing my “how do I balance this” question so thank you
    I really enjoyed reading this list and will do so again. Some of these things, I already do – others are fresh perspective

    and gosh darn it Darren I want to make it to the top :)

    Another great post- Merci!

  5. Domain news says:

    yeah, this is really useful post, i am just a beginner blogger and your articles help me a lot to right and keep up my blog

    i write my blog Domainblog.com.ua in Russian, but the things that you give in your post make me write better and better

    thaks a lot, waiting for more=)

  6. Strong One says:

    Another great post.. with a lot of useful info.
    I’m taking a lesson from good ole’ Sam Walton.. founding father of the mega-giant retail chain ‘Wal-Mart’.
    Some of the best ideas are stolen or borrowed.
    So I’m doing me best to listen and learn.

    Thanks again.

  7. Rob Brydon says:

    Darren,

    It’s nice to see this perspective coming from an A lister.

    People always want something for nothing, and I bet that it’s hard to weed out all of the junk people hit you with day and night

    Your posts on the number of spam submissions to your websites are just crazy.

  8. Really good list, Michael, thanks! I like #5 today especially – just because you’ve got a blogspot blog with one post on it, that doesn’t make it news (not yet)!!

    And I’d probably add something like “don’t email for link exchanges, at best they’re pointless”. Add some value to the exchange, even if a link really is what you’re after!

  9. Thanks for sharing you seem to write the best in blogging industry.

  10. Peter Urban says:

    Very good advice. So many small businesses are told that they need a blog to improve their online marketing. So they whip up a blogging site and then don’t know what to do, how to connect and what to write about. After a short period they are disillusioned and give up.

    Turning a blog into a success, either on it’s own or as a marketing platform for your business is hard work and this post is a very efficient instruction manual to success.

  11. Briana says:

    I totally agree with this & wish more bloggers would check this out! I’m so sick of being approached with sales tactics: it’s so transparent when someone says “I love your blog”, immediately followed by “link to me!”

    Thanks for posting these tips – hopefully it will give more new bloggers some guidelines to follow when interacting with others!

  12. Kat Rice says:

    I’m so glad I found you on twitter. This information is 5 stars. This should really help me step up my game. Do you mind if I link back to you for a social networking website I’m experimenting with?

  13. sarah says:

    this series of posts is especially relatable for me right now, as someone who’s been at this for 6+ months now and finding that i need to step it up with networking if i want to rise above the plateau of traffic i’ve hit!

    im trying something new this week, partially based on some of your tips. i made a top 20 list of albums released this year and have been “daring” other bloggers in my niche to do the same– some equals, some more established. i’m getting ignored a majority of the time, but i’ve already started a few really worthwhile dialogues!

  14. This is excellent advice. It is just an example of why I tell bloggers who are starting out to read ProBlogger.

    All of it comes back to something that I have come to realize over time as I blog– blogging is a community. In fact, it is a collection of communities. You should approach it just as you would any other community of people, with respect, transparency, and a willingness to share and receive. The proper attitude can go a long way to helping you establish meaningful relationships that will go well beyond the blogosphere.

  15. Vicki Davis says:

    I wish every marketing department would read this. My e-mail has begun filling up with people whom I’ve never heard of asking me to write about their products. Now, I’m always happy to write about cool new products — but to me, I listen to the people I have the relationship with already.

    Have they commented? Are they running through educational circles in the edublogosphere? Do they honestly care about what we’re trying to do in education? Are they really there or are they just trying to get something out of me.

    I think the relationship thing is so important and you’ve really done a nice job with this post.

    The biggest drawback of blogging since my blog has increased in readership has been the increasing amount of unsolicited e-mail. Sometimes I feel like the REAL people I do want to talk to don’t e-mail as much and the super-spammers e-mail me more.

    But, I guess those are good problems.

  16. Sharon says:

    An excellent, very important list. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I think all bloggers need to read this post.

    The odd/sad thing is that as common-sense as these points are, too many bloggers tend to not realize how important this is for them socially (some of my best friends nowdays are fellow bloggers) and for extending one’s influence in the blogosphere thanks to collaborations and spreading the link-love.

  17. Muscle Post says:

    I think these are some excellent tips for all bloggers. For a beginner blogger, networking is SO important to grow your blog and it takes a lot of time and effort if you want to see results. Often times our gut reaction is to go right to the A-Listers and ask for help, but like you say this is not really the best strategy. Build some relationships with other bloggers in your niche who may have slightly more experience and a bit of a following. Enough of these will help to catapult you to where you want to be…eventually (as long as you keep providing valuable content on your blog).

  18. Carla says:

    I really appreciate this list. As a beginner, it’s hard to know when not to spread yourself too thin. I am still finding my voice on my business blog and personal (but business related) blog http://thebusinessofgreenandchic.wordpress.com/ I would like to find other bloggers in similar situations.

  19. Rick says:

    Thanks for pointing this all out. The “give and take” advice is especially important. And please don’t be afraid to ask questions. The wisest person in a room is the one who realizes he has a lot to learn.

    Rick

  20. KushMoney says:

    This post was very helpful. I will apply somethings on the list.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. @Vicki Davis: Thanks for voicing your honest opinion about networking and emails! This is something I’ve been struggling to deal with myself for some time now, and it’s great to know I’m not the only one who wonders this at times.

    I do love to interact with readers of my site, though at one point the emails and requests became overwhelming, and as Vicki said, it depleted the time I had to network with those I already know and respect (not to mention my actual writing time!).

    @Darren: this post has been really insightful for a number of reasons; not only with regard to networking, but time management too.

    Thank you, as always, for your excellent advice :)

  22. Great post Darren

    I am about 2+ months into blogging with my blog (on website development) and gradually starting to think about building relationship and networks with other bloggers.

    I believe tip number 4 (Work with Bloggers on Your ‘Level’) is a key point. When you work with similar bloggers at the same maturity level you will find a lot of things in common. You’ll also find that the problems that you face as similar as well. Therefore there is lot of common grounds for you to work together. This means your can have a more meaningful relationships and interaction with your peers.

    Another way to build relationships is to go beyond the blogospshere. I think the blogospshere is currently a too competitive environment. Every one who has a blog want some attention. If you go beyond the blogospshere you may find the competition to be very less. For example you can collaborate with a small e-commerce vendor, a school etc.

    Darren what do you think about this strategy?

  23. Ryan McLean says:

    This post is sweeet.
    I literally just asked this question in one of my comments yesterday.
    I run a financial blog, if anyone wants to connect with me then head over to my site and give me a comment or an email…cheers

    Thanks for the great post Darren

  24. Bibokz says:

    Blogger is indeed sweet, just try to implement google philosphy. :P It’s working..

  25. Ann says:

    Don’t most of these principles apply to building any good relationships? Just because we’re interacting in cyberspace doesn’t mean that basic values of integrity, honesty, generosity, etc. don’t apply.

    The days of looking people in the eye and a firm handshake may be numbered, but the principles are the same.

  26. this is excellent stuff Darren, I really mean it. I’ll present a question I thought about some time ago.

    “How much time (maybe daily,weekly) do you invest in promoting a site not your own?

    I created a system where I promote other sites on ues and thurs for a certain amount of time because like you said networking or surfing forums and so on, will eat up your time if you allow it.

    Realistically, I even time myself because time escapes me when I’m messing around on Digg, or Stumble Upon. I find it easy to over do any particular aspect of site development, networking, writing, etc.

    I like your approach. Writing content in the morning and networking in the afternoon.

  27. blog4net says:

    Thanks Darren, for the useful post. Though i know most of these things and want to implement, my time is not permitting me to do all these due to my regular job and family life.

    Hope to comply soon.. :-)

  28. Noobpreneur says:

    Darren,

    Great tips – as usual.

    In my case, I’m currently in #5 – Prove yourself first.

    I’m in the middle of building reputation online – I’m sticking to what I’m doing right now and I (hope) I know what I’m talking about :P

    I previously network with the same level blogger (#4 on your list) – unfortunately he sold his blog, so I have to find other bloggers to network :)

    Cheers!

  29. This was a great article, especially the line “don’t stalk them”….Thanks!

  30. Tina says:

    6. Persist But Don’t Annoy , but don’t stalk them! I am really laughing at this because I feel like a stalker sometimes. There are a few sites I really love to look at 1.Because they have alot of information for other bloggers (like yours) 2.I like their style of writing. So I visit them often seeing what’s new or trying to figure out how they did that (adding different widgets). So I have my links set up to say “sites I like to stalk” Just wanted to share that with you because it made me giggle when I saw it.

    P.S. I did add you to my stalking sites. I just love how you are so willing to help others with your advice.

  31. KimM says:

    Question from a true neophyte – how do you find people ‘at your own level?’

    Also, thanks for the encouragement – I’ve been following some blogs for sometime, and will start sharing the conversation, which actually is helpful at times, that I’m having in my head.

  32. SaraB says:

    Haha don’t stalk them. I’ll try! I wish I’d read this article… it provides a lot of the same information as the book I read about this (link to the ebooks version) but condensed nicely and free. And funny :)

  33. Rich says:

    I found pro blogger about a week ago and I haven’t looked back since. The info you provide has opened up my eyes to what my blog should and shouldn’t be doing. Thanks for all you do and keep it coming.

    Rich

  34. Man, I must be in violation of half of these. That I don’t say “and who cares” indicates these are actually a pretty keen set of tips.

    It seems as well it’s good to know what you are talking about. My latest post is a Bloggers Dictionary, on the lighter side, which I could use some help on (mark one less on the items in violation).

    Give me some input, my learning curve has been called phenomenal and maybe I can yet learn what this is all about, with a little help from my friends.

    WhoWouldWrite.blogspot.com

  35. Robbirdia says:

    This will be my 7th day blogging and I quite enjoy it. Your site has enlightened me on stepping up my game and building relationships. The ads that I have are ok but now that I know more about how blogging works-Thanks to your site-I know I will make this work.

  36. #18 should be making deposit in the the bank because a lot of bloggers will talk to you if you can make them money. i dont mean like you actually have to paypal them $5 all the time whenever you want them to answer your email but just if you sell their stuff for them with like those affiliate things and you make them money that way, then they’re more likely to write you back if you send them an email.

  37. SolShine7 says:

    Excellent advice! Behind every great blog is a person and we have to remember that. Well said.

  38. Brad Spencer says:

    I really like the idea of the “relationship bank” analogy. It’s amazingly simple yet is exactly the basic building block of relationship.

    I like the quote from J.C. Penney. “Give everyone everything they ever wanted and they will give you everything you want AND MORE”

    When I sit down and look at what got me where I am today, it’s because I made deposits in the “relationship bank” and did things without any tangible return. I realized years ago that by doing this, whenever I needed something someone would be there to help me.

    Cheers and Great Post!

  39. FitMom says:

    Wow, really informative. Need to work on all of them! I think I’m still on number 3 proving myself! After reading this post, then rereading it- it’s like you gave 15 things to work on. So thanks.

  40. Luv Doctr says:

    Talk about good advice. I\’m bookmarking this site.

  41. Peter Szabo says:

    This was a great article, especially the line “don’t stalk them”….Thanks!

  42. Marisa says:

    Not sure if I could establish such kind of relationship with strangers. However, these tips are so good!, I’d apply them in my real life relationships instead — friends, colleagues and family. I do comment on other blogs frequently, but more as an appreciation to their writings and ways of thinking. And obviously, because they’re worth it.

    Relationship, on the other hand, takes a much deeper level of understanding.. something words alone cannot describe.

    Sorry, perhaps I’m just not that type of blogger. Good post. Thanks!