You’ve selected a great blog design, written some flagship posts, and left comments on other blogs. But your readership is still so low you dare not display your feed count for fear it will drive people away instead of serving as social proof.
What are you missing?
Networking. Last week my post here at PureBlogging was Smart Strategies for New Bloggers. If you haven’t read it, yet, you might want to because it will be excellent background for this post. Go ahead, you can click the back button when you’re done (and after you’ve left a comment). I’ll still be here.
You’re back? Good. So in that post I said that a beginning blogger should be spending two thirds of her time networking and one third writing. I also suggested that a blog pack was a great way to accomplish some of this. But a blog pack is only part of networking.
What is Blog Networking?
If you haven’t really done much of it before, networking might seem like a mystery. The word may conjure up images of business people in suits shaking hands, exchanging business cards, being phony, and sipping martinis. Not that there’s anything wrong with martinis, mind you, but for bloggers it’s not very much like that at all.
Here’s how I define blog networking: Making a concerted effort to make personal contact with people in order to find ways to help them and provide value to their lives.
How is Blog Networking Done?
There are a thousand ways to network with other bloggers, and some of them you probably already know, like leave great comments at other blogs. The best networking techniques are simple, honest, and personal. That’s why they’re so effective. Consider:
- Email a blogger directly, especially if he has commented on a post you wrote. I do this from time to time. In the email I say something like: “I wanted to send a personal note to say hello and to thank you for…” and then I tell them whatever it is they’ve done for which I’m thankful. Maybe they wrote a great post that really resonated with me. Maybe I really appreciated a comment they left on my blog. People will nearly always reply, and now you’ve made contact. That’s networking.
- Introduce members of your network to each other. Once you’ve added someone into your network, consider others in your network she should be introduced to. A real networker doesn’t just “collect people” for himself. He makes connections between others for everyone’s mutual benefit. It’s easy to send an email to both people at once in order to introduce two people to each other.
- Provide value with every interaction. Always be looking out for the interests of others in your network. For example, if you have a real estate agent in your network and you happen on a real estate article online that would be relevant to her, why not send her the link with a note that says you thought of her when you saw the article? Actions like these create strong professional ties between people.
- Go beyond text. Even stronger relationships are built when you go beyond email, instant messaging, or Twitter. Talk to people on the phone. This is why I use a service like Skype. I can make calls anywhere in the world and it’s dirt cheap. That makes it easy to keep in touch with others.
- Go beyond voice. Meeting with others face to face is still the best kind of networking you can experience. Blog meetups cost very little to attend or to organize. There are many conferences you can attend in your industry or niche. There may be trade shows related to your subject or field. Yes, these cost money, but I have found that it is money well-spent. I think of it as an investment. I get a return. I get new business, connections, and opportunities through live events I would never have any other way. I actually make more money from the event than it costs to attend, so it’s a good decision. It’s not always so clear-cut. It may be difficult to put a dollar amount on an opportunity to gain exposure, for example. Oh… this is where you might actually be sipping a martini and exchanging business cards. But if you wore a suit to a blogging conference it would be weird, and if you were a phony you wouldn’t get any traction out of the event.
If you are a new blogger, the thought of attending a blogging conference (or something similar) may seem overwhelming. But if you want to do something more than languish with an unread new blog, meeting people in the flesh and establishing bonds with others is the best way to catapult your new blog onto the scene.
Networking and interacting with other people, instead of hiding behind your screen writing posts, will do more for your blog–and for your growth as a person–than you ever thought possible.
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