Updated February 8, 2019
Building relationships is key to online success. But it’s not always easy to know where to start. Here are some tips. From an introvert. In other words, if I can do it, you can too.
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1. Participate in online groups
These can be paid-for or free.
Paid-for communities tend to attract people who are more focused and serious about their growth. Plus, you often get much more than community, like additional learning materials and help from experts in your niche. Examples: the Food Blogger Pro community for food bloggers (obviously), and the hope*writers community for writers and authors.
Join Facebook Groups, forums and interact with others on social media. You’ve got to be involved. Initiate. Reach out. Don’t sit back and wait to be asked.
To find Facebook Groups, type your niche keyword in the Facebook search bar. Look for results with “+Join” next to them. Those are Groups.
On Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and other social media platforms, find relevant hashtags and join in the conversation.
The goal is to build relationships, not just to push your own site or products. Aim to make real friends, otherwise it’ll backfire.
2. Attend in-person events (like conferences)
There’s nothing like meeting people face to face. If you can attend a conference, a meet-up or another gathering of like-minded people, do it. And when you’re there, put yourself out there and meet people.
Attending a conference in 2010 absolutely changed the course of my online career. Prior to that, I had been blogging alone for 6 years. I was making no money to speak of. Meeting other bloggers, exchanging ideas and seeing what worked for others was mind blowing and inspiring.
Not only that, in-real-life connections I made with others bloggers turned into collaborations, mastermind groups and lifelong friends.
Not sure which events to attend? Note where your favorite influencers are speaking. Many have “Speaking” pages or list their speaking engagements on their About page.
Here’s a large list of events too.
3. Join Pinterest group boards
While no longer as powerful as they once were, the right Pinterest boards can still be powerful tools to help grow your blog.
Find group boards that are a good fit, contact the owner (they are the first person listed in the group board’s members) and simply ask if you can join. If you’re accepted, be a useful participant.
4. Join (or start) a mastermind group
I wrote a whole post about mastermind groups here.
5. Collaborate with others
Join forces with other bloggers or publishers and come up with a creative way to drum up some buzz.
YouTubers often collaborate with other YouTubers (collabs). Not only is a relationship built with the other YouTuber, the idea is to introduce your audiences to each other, thereby getting more subscribers.
On social media, collaborate with others around a hashtag like these women did the Building Budget Tour on Instagram.
Make it a win for all. Collaborations can increase traffic, broaden your exposure, help build relationships and improve SEO (lots of inbound links from the others you’re collaborating with). Plus, it’s fun.
6. Take a course
There are countless blogging courses these days. The content is fine, but in many cases, the groups attached to them are where the true value lies!
The nice thing about courses is that people who have paid for them are serious about growing. Therefore, the group discussion is particularly helpful and focused.
7. Be helpful
Whenever you encounter others, be helpful. If you see ways you can offer help, do it.
Don’t be the person who only asks and never gives. Be generous with your expertise, promotion and advice, no strings attached.
8. Don’t limit yourself to networking with just bloggers
Reach out to journalists and those in traditional media too. Social media makes this easier than it’s ever been, and the potential benefits are obvious.
My first blog was featured in Time Magazine back in 2006, after the journalist reached out to me. We’ve had friendly conversations multiple times since.
Most journalists and reporters have a presence on social media. To find them, simply search or look for social media icons on their articles. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) you can get emails filled with requests from reporters who want sources for their stories. And don’t overlook connections with your local media as well.
9. Be yourself
Don’t be what you think others want you to be. That’s exhausting. And unsustainable. Always be yourself when you’re building relationships.
If you don’t feel like you “fit” in a group you’ve joined or among people you’ve found, keep looking!
In short, be genuine, like a friend. I guarantee you’ll eventually find your people.
10. Pick yourself
Every once in a while I’ll get an email from a discouraged blogger who hasn’t made any meaningful connections. Many times I’ll do a little digging and find out they were waiting to be asked. Don’t wait to be asked by someone else to be involved online. Start something yourself and ask others to join you!
The internet has made it possible to connect with others, pool your resources and research how to pull it off. Take advantage of it.