You’ve just launched your blog’s brand new custom design, you post content daily because you know content is king, you engage and interact with your community, you seem to be checking off all the boxes you have been told will give you blog success, but it is not really coming to you.
The opportunities seem to be going to everyone else and if you see one more person getting that lucky break you think you are going to punch the wall.
Yes. It’s not fair!
And if you keep telling yourself that you’ll never get to the crux of the problem and work out why the opportunities keep passing you by.
Want to know the most powerful of blog success tips? It is the single most reason for the success that my husband and I have had with our travel blog.
Because of it we are often given paid trips around the world, work our blogs full-time, have been invited to speak at industry events, have formed relationships with big brands and companies and have been given many advertising opportunities. We would never have been able to achieve this if had not been for our ability to network.
That word has probably spent a lot of you scurrying underneath the bed in fear right now.
“What? You want me to get out from behind my computer wall and mingle with other people.”
I understand your apprehension and fears. Networking is a scary adventure, but so was walking when you first started to learn it. Do you worry about that now?
As with anything in life, the path will be a little rocky at first as you figure out how to make it work for you. But if you want to have success with your blogging, and I am talking long-term success, and I am only talking to those who actually want to make it more than a hobby (which is perfectly fine should this be all you want to do), then you need to become a master at networking.
What is networking?
Networking is a term that to me often sounds a little cold and self-serving. I like to think of it more in terms of building relationships. Every successful business owner, entrepreneur and millionaire will tell you that it is one of the biggest keys to their success.
The truth of the matter is people will do business with those they like and trust.
It’s not really a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of thing, though there is an element of truth that runs through this. But, it’s not slimy, deviate truth. It is just the way the world works.
If I have a job come up that I am unavailable for, but I have the opportunity to recommend someone else for instead, and I going to recommend that person I have built a relationship for many years, who I know will do a great job, or am I going to recommend someone I don’t know?
Simple really isn’t it.
Case in point. We were recently asked to go on a food tour in New York, but we weren’t going to NYC so couldn’t take it. I was about to say no when I remembered Nikki was going to BlogHer in NYC. I know Nikki, I like her, I trust her. So I asked if she wanted to go instead and write a review for us. So she did. (BTW You can read her New York City food tour post.)
Nikki and I have built a relationship from chatting online and at blogging events. Easy and enjoyable networking – simply getting to know one another.
So all you have to do is become someone that people know, like and trust.
It’s not really a self-serving thing. I believe good things come when you do good things for other people. I have had so many opportunities come from people I know, but this is not why I am friends with them. It is because I genuinely like that person and I feel we have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Here are 8 tips to help you get over the fear of networking and build those quality relationships.
Building relationships take time
When you are networking with people or company representatives they need time to get to know you and understand what it is you do and how you can best help them. Be patient and enjoy the process.
You can’t meet someone once, or have a couple of twitter conversations with them and be asking them to hand over contacts to help you. I get these requests all the time. I will only ever hand my contacts over if I really know who you are and what you offer. It takes time to build this trust.
Be professional and take care of your image
People are forming opinions about you whether you like it or not. Most of the time, I don’t care what people think of me, unless I am acting in a way that is unprofessional, rude and unfriendly.
If you want to form relationships with people who can be the doorway to opportunities, you have to be professional and provide value. Being professional doesn’t mean being boring. You can still be fun and have that professional, leadership image that people want to work with and recommend.
Be careful of what you say and do online as eyes are always watching the online space. It’s harder for people to trust you with opportunities if they see you often being negative, argumentative or unprofessional online.
Respect other’s time
Time is our most precious commodity, so be wary of how you impact upon another person’s time. Do what you can to solve your own problems first before you ask for help from someone else. Make it short and snappy when you do.
If you are networking at events, be aware that some people may have many people pulling on their arm and many jobs they need to fulfil, like preparing for a talk, eating, getting a much needed coffee and going to the toilet.
Or if you are networking online there will be a hundred times more demands being made upon their time. Always follow up with a thank you too. (Yes amazing how often this one gets left off!)
Get to as many events as you can, offline and on.
It is far more powerful to meet people in person so look in your area for any meet up groups connected to your niche. We would often go to a monthly travel meeting attended by so many people within the travel industry. We have made amazing friendships and connections from that which has led to several press trips and partnerships. All created from casual conversation over a few drinks.
Go to as many conferences as you can and make use of the out of class time to network. Don’t just stay in your friendship circles, branch out and meet new people.
Do not hand out your business card during the first sentence you speak. It’s best to hold off and wait until the other person asks for it. This is the most powerful way to be remembered and start a deeper relationship. If not give it casually to the person at the end of the conversation. (TIP: Put your photo on your business card, it’s much easier to remember who you are that way!)
Don’t make it about you
When you are networking with others don’t make the conversation all about you. In fact make it 20%. Another fact of life is that people LOVE to talk about themselves, so if you ask questions to get people to open up about their lives, they will remember you and walk away thinking how lovely you were. That is the best starting point to open up a deeper relationship.
When you aim to network with those who are where you want to be, do not bombard them with questions as to how they can help you. Ask them about their normal lives; it will be such a refreshing break for them. Most successful people are uncomfortable with being treated like a star, they just want to have normal conversations.
We once attended a conference in Florida and we really resonated with one of the speakers. At the after party we asked if we could buy him a drink. We chatted about travel and surfing and his wife and children. We ended up partying with him until the wee hours of the morning. Not once did we ask him about how we could be a successful millionaire like himself. The next day he gave us his phone number and said it was one of the funnest nights he had had after an event and to let him know whenever we needed help. It’s about becoming friends first.
Whenever you meet someone new, be sure to follow up with them. Send them a tweet or personal email saying how nice it was to meet them. Send them that helpful link or answer to one of their problems you were discussing together. Ask them if there is any way you can help them.
You might want to suggest a follow up meeting in person. We often reach out to people and arrange coffee dates. This might be a little scarier, but it is a far better way to form personal connections. An important rule we always follow, taught to us by our Floridian friend above, is to cover the bill, especially if you can see the value that you will receive from deepening this relationship.
Be the leader and give first
Remember you will always get back what you give to others. So if you want to be supported and encouraged yourself you must give that to others first. If you begrudge their success then you will begrudge it for yourself and that will be your end result.
Show the online world that you are a leader. This is simple done by walking your talk, being authentic, and reaching out to help others. Get involved in online forums and contribute to conversations and offer advice. You don’t have to be the best of the best to do this. Everyone has something valuable to contribute no matter how big or small.
Never forget where you came from
You’ve put in the hard yards, you’ve networked your butt off, made some great friendships as a result and the opportunities are now starting to flow to you.
The last tip, I believe is the most important. Remember where you came from. Remember that you are not really that special. You are just someone who has found a way to live your dreams, most likely because of the help of many other people.
So never look down upon anyone else from now on who comes to you for help, support or who wants to build a relationship with you.
It might feel like a drain on your time, but lucky you. What an amazing position you have found yourself in. Use that position to do good and give back. You are no better than anyone else who is just starting and looking to find a way to achieve their dreams.
One of the most bizarre things I find about my blogging success is the amount of people who say they are so excited to meet me, or even felt afraid to come up and say hi. To me I am just a regular person going through my day doing what I love. I love meeting new people and I don’t care who they are or what they do, they are worthy of my time simply because they are a person too.
We are all here on this journey together. We are all here to help one another. When you start seeing the world like this and coming from the place of connecting, sharing and serving, so many amazing opportunities will open up for you to enjoy.
The real joy however will come from what you can give back as a result.
What are you thoughts on networking? Has it worked for you as a blogger?
Caz Makepeace is a serial traveller, blogger and sunset mojito drinker. When not writing about travel around the world on y travel blog she is writing about motherhood and mojo making on Moijto Mother. You can connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest
Editor’s note: Caz is speaking at the Problogger Training Event in Melbourne next week. The two-day event is sold out but if you missed out on a ticket or can’t make the trip to Melbourne, “virtual” tickets are available at $149. This will give you access to audio recordings and downloads from each of the 21 sessions – sessions all aimed at helping you make money off - or because – of your blog. I’m moderating a panel talking about how to get brands knocking on your door … and pay for the privilege of coming inside. Notes on that will be on the blog next week.
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