“Networking” is a word that makes many of us cringe; it calls to mind men in expensive suits shaking hands and wearing fake smiles. When you work in an industry you’re passionate about (such as blogging about a subject you’re an expert on), the last thing you want to do is feel like a sycophantic phony.
But networking doesn’t have to be about sucking up to those in power. It’s about forming connections and making friends with people whose work you genuinely respect. Not only will those relationships help as you develop your blog and cultivate your audience—they’re fulfilling on a personal level, too.
Here are several valuable techniques you can use to help form a network of blogging colleagues.
How to effectively network with other bloggers without being annoying.
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How do you network with bloggers?
Write guest blogs
Guest blogging is a symbiotic relationship—the host blog gets a free piece of content, and the guest blogger gets a link to their own blog. This makes it one of the most effective ways to build relationships with fellow bloggers.
When seeking out potential guest blogging opportunities, look for blogs that are closely related to the type of content you’re posting on your own blog. After all, one of your ultimate goals here is to increase the size of your own audience, and that simply won’t happen if you write for readers who have completely different interests.
Make sure that any guest blogs you write meet the guidelines of the site you’re writing for. This could include word count, number of images, and links, as well as the tone of the site itself. Keep the “golden rule” in mind and create something of the same quality you’d want to see on your own blog—maybe even more, depending on how prestigious the target blog is.
Interact through social media
Most bloggers are active on at least one social network, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. This is a great place to reach out and start conversations. Just keep in mind that “please share my blog post” isn’t a conversation; it’s more like begging, and it’s not the sort of thing that nurtures a strong relationship.
Just like with any other form of networking, it’s important to be respectful. If a blogger doesn’t get back to you right away, don’t barrage them with messages. Remember that other people have lives, too, and you’re not entitled to their time. It’s okay to follow up after some time has passed, but don’t make it part of your monthly routine if it’s clear they don’t intend to respond.
Comment on other blogs
Commenting on blogs that you already frequent is a great way to get in touch with authors—provided they read their comments, of course. Most bloggers do, if only so they can moderate out the toxic ones.
This is an opportunity to show off your expertise, but as always, approach this from a position of mutual benefit. Don’t just brag about what a know-it-all you are and link to your website. Make sure you’re contributing something of value, whether it’s a personal anecdote, a helpful example, or a little-known trade secret.
Speak at conferences
Blogging conferences and conventions give you an opportunity to engage with bloggers face-to-face, meaning that these interactions are often more personal and create stronger bonds. Being a guest speaker presents an even greater opportunity, allowing you to demonstrate your authority and knowledge to potential business contacts.
If you arrange a guest speaking appearance, make sure you’re fully prepared. Consider creating custom-printed binders that feature your blog’s logo and URL. You can insert materials that supplement your presentation and distribute them to your audience members, encouraging them to visit your blog later.
Host an event
Can’t find any blogging events in your area? Consider creating one of your own. Hosting an event is an excellent way to generate goodwill with other bloggers.
When creating your invite list, begin by looking into your local community’s blogging networks; sites like The Blog Societies are a good place to start. Figure out the best venue and make sure attendees know whether there will be a cover charge or other costs.
Events require a lot of planning and strategy, but don’t get so bogged down with minutiae that you don’t get a chance to network; that’s the whole point of this, after all. Don’t feel like you need to put together an extravagant banquet. A small get-together at the park or a meetup at a restaurant can be just as effective.
One of the things that attracts many people to blogging is that, generally speaking, you can do it all yourself without relying on other people. But for a blog to really succeed, you have to step outside your comfort zone every now and then. Use these techniques to expand your blogging network and form valuable, productive relationships.