“It’s all in who you know.”
We’ve all heard it: You have to know “the right people” or have the right pedigree to be successful.
Upon entering college, I was told to network and create alliances with influential people. These people would be instrumental in creating my future.
And so I kissed up to my professors. And that’s kind of where I stalled on the whole connection thing.
I couldn’t figure out how to fit into any of the cliques of influence – it seemed to me that first you had to have influence. Granted, it could have been me – I’ve never been called the life of the party.
I left college certain my future was doomed because the only alliances I formed were with my English professor and several library employees.
Oh, and the lady in the cafeteria. She always gave me a good deal on taco day.
How to find your most important connections
All these decades later, after many false starts (check out the shocking true tale here), I finally fit in. I’ve finally found “my crowd.”
And I’ve met very few of them in person.
Online, especially in the “blogosphere,” the opportunity to create meaningful – and profitable – connections are at your fingertips, no matter what school your daddy went to.
The difference is, where before it might have been in the hands of others to make the introductions or wield some clout on your behalf, now the power to connect is all in your hands.
Here’s how to make it happen, for you.
1. Interact on blogs and in forums
Others talk about doing this as a way to get your website linked to from other sites.
That’s only one reason this strategy is so powerful. Truth is, unless an influential site links you to, those links take a really long time to accumulate actual web value.
The real reason you comment on blogs is to become known by the author and other readers as a participant and an authority. If you have several blogs you’d like to submit guest blogs to in the future, begin commenting on the posts you really resonate with. Let the blog author get to know you.
And the real reason to participate in forums is to get to know others aligned with your ideas and projects. I spend at least one hour every morning asking questions, answering questions, and getting to know people and their projects in three different forums.
I’m constantly surprised at the people we meet in the forums. From these forums have come a growing number of opportunities for joint ventures, offers for guest posts, and partnerships. Not all have been the right fit for our business, and in several of those instances, we’ve been able to suggest someone who was a good fit.
The point of forums:
This is about establishing relationships. This isn’t a one-time, short-term plan. It takes awhile for people to connect and get to know each other, especially online. Give it time, invest – and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Your connection action plan:
Find at least one forum where your skills, expertise, interests, or projects overlap with other members. Find the one area you can offer a bit of authority. Get involved, get to know other members. Ask and answer questions. Offer links to valuable resources. Raise your hand.
My forum tip:
Expect connection. As you participate, listen for ways you could be a resource for each other.
2. Guest Post
Guest posting is exploding as a legitimate way to grow your blog site. But a lot of people misunderstand its true power.
It’s not about the post. It’s about the relationship.
Here’s what I mean.
I’ve seen several people post once on a big site, expecting that one post to change their lives. Depending on how relevant the post is to the guest posting audience, they’ll get a small bump in traffic, maybe a few new subscribers. Disappointed, off they go to another, “better” site, or abandon guest posting altogether.
The point of guest posting:
Like participating in the forums, guest posting is about developing a relationship with the blog owner and even more importantly, developing a relationship with that blog’s audience.
Case in point: I enjoy ProBlogger’s annual 40 Bloggers to Watch feature every January. (I fully expect TransformNation to be featured on next year’s list. Attention Darren Rowse, please make a note. :-))
Last year, as I read his list for 2010, I was surprised at how many of those bloggers I not only read regularly, but had also purchased products from. Every single one of them I had discovered through their regular blog posts on Copyblogger. Every one.
And they didn’t just guest post once.
Most of them posted at least once a month, for a year or more. And readers like me got to know them: their personalities, what they stood for, and most importantly, how they could help me grow my business.
Once a blog accepts you, attempt to submit a high-quality post at least once a month to that blog. Let that audience get to know you: As an authority, as a voice they can trust. When approached this way, we’ve seen traffic, retweets, Facebook “likes,” and subscriptions grow with each new guest post.
Your Connection Action Plan:
Commit now to finding at least four high profile blogs in your niche you can submit posts to. Send posts until you’re accepted. Build on that success, and submit a post at least once a month.
My guest-posting tip:
Good blogs need good writers, and that need is only going to grow. Large blogs that want to grow eventually have to begin posting quality content at least once a day – and that requires lots of good content. Few bloggers have the time to write that much, so they’re looking for guest posters. That’s where you come in.
What are your tips?
What have you experienced out there in the blogosphere?
Let us know in the comments.