Updated March 4, 2016
Building relationships is key to online success. But it’s not always easy to know where to start. Here are some networking tips. From an introvert. In other words, if I can do it, you can too.
1. 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 get-together, do it. Attending a conference in 2010 absolutely changed the course of my online “career.”
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.
2. Participate in online events
Don’t be afraid to jump into forums and social media. You’ve got to be involved. For most of these things, you don’t have to be invited, so don’t sit back and wait to be asked. The goal is to build relationships, not just to push your own site or products. Aim to make real friends, otherwise it’ll backfire.
3. Join Pinterest group boards
There are many bloggers who have seen amazing growth by contributing to group boards on Pinterest. (Ruth Soukup’s Elite Blog Academy is a great resource for in-depth training on this.) 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. Then be a useful participant.
4. Join (or start) a mastermind group
I wrote a whole post about mastermind groups here.
5. Collaborate with other bloggers
Join forces with other bloggers and come up with a creative way to drum up some buzz. A basic idea is to pick a topic and have everyone in the group write their own post. Then, everyone links their own post to all the others. (Check out Staycation on a Budget as an example.)
Spread the work around, as well as the promotion. (Another fun example from a few years ago was Name That DIY Blogger.)
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. Be helpful
Whenever you encounter others, be helpful. If you see ways you can offer help, do it. Don’t be the guy that only asks and never gives. Be generous with your expertise, promotion and advice, no strings attached.
7. 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.
Here is a big list of journalists on G+ and if you sign up at 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.
8. 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. In short, be genuine, like a friend.
9. Pick yourself
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.