Is Your Blog Helping Build Your Network?
The most important ingredient for a successful blog tends to be the one that is most often overlooked.
It is the only thing other than great content that can grow your blog, build your reputation, and make you stand out.
So what is this ingredient that I’m talking about? It’s your network, your group of friends, the colleagues you befriend.
We always talk about how building a blog community is important for getting retweets, comments, and readers. But, your core group of close friends will introduce new people to your work.
A smart blogger will befriend other bloggers and important industry leaders. These friends online are people you can work with, create partnerships with, and learn from.
Building a Network, The Basics
Building your network takes time. It’s all about identifying core leaders in your industry, and befriending them.
Thankfully, most people online are open to meeting new people. It’s just a matter of breaking the ice and taking that first step.
Using Your Blog
One way to make that initial connection is with your blog. If you’re trying to reach out to a prominent blogger or industry expert, write a post about them or their ideas.
Most bloggers look out for their mentions on the web. Just to make sure they saw the article, you can always email them and ask for their feedback. This gives you a reason for reaching out to them, sharing ideas, and building a relationship.
Sometimes it’s not enough to mention them or write about an idea. Another way to break the ice is to ask to interview the person for an article on your blog. Most people are happy to answer a few questions via email.
Your blog can be your reason for reaching out to industry leaders. It’s a great tool for connecting you with others.
But, don’t forget to look at the community already built on your blog. Sometimes the right person is already reading your content. So how do you identify people to connect with from within your very own community?
Check Your Comments:
The very first place to check would be the comment sections. Most blogs have a group of readers that read every post, subscribe to the blog, and share their thoughts.
These commenters have already shown that they want to connect with you. They’ve taken the first step and reached out to you. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with them.
Email popular commenters and discuss their thoughts. I’ve used ideas from comments as blog posts or as inspiration for ebooks. Share ideas and build the relationship. These are your core readers after all.
Aside from comments I also keep a list of active readers. By active readers I mean people that retweet my articles, share them on Facebook, or bloggers that link to mine.
If someone stands out or says something that piques my interest, I’ll reach out to them. This list allows me to filter all my readers to only those that are interested in what I say and are spreading my content.
These are my brand evangelist and people I should connect with.
Can I Contact You?
We’ve already talked about reaching out to others, but can people contact you? An often overlooked element of the successful blog is the contact form.
If you’re running WordPress you have a number of options to make it easy for people to get in touch with you. I personally use Wufoo, because it creates beautiful forms and integrates with a number of tools. It’s a paid service that I think is worth it.
Regardless of how you create your contact page, it should your social media profiles, your contact form, an address, and maybe a Google Voice number.
Treat messages as conversions and attempt to increase the number of people reaching out to you. The more people that want to connect with you, the bigger your network grows.
What About Social Media?
Each social media site you have a profile is an opportunity for someone to reach out to you. It’s also an easy option for you to connect with someone else.
If you’re trying to figure out whom to reach out to in the first place, social media can make that easier.
For those with a Facebook fan page, go through some of your fans. Do you share a high number of mutual friends? Maybe you should connect. Is there an industry leader on your page? This could be a good way to reach out to them.
It’s important to recognize that social media can open up a number of opportunities for building your network. It also makes it easy to maintain and communicate with people.
Being afraid to connect with people can kill your chances of success online. If you disregard others in your industry or act like they don’t matter, you isolate yourself and set yourself up for failure.
Make friends and be a part of the community. Don’t forget the adage: “success comes to those that surround themselves with success”. How are you surrounding yourself with success?