I started taking this networking thing seriously back in 2007 when I was tired of working at this one company. One thing I tried was to attend more local marketing events. At one particular luncheon, I unknowingly sat down beside a recruiter. Within 10 minutes, I got asked to schedule an interview. Two weeks later, I ended up with a job as Marketing Director and worked for that company for three years.
Guess what, bloggers? This doesn't just happen in the corporate world. If you want to push ahead in the blogger rat race, you've gotta NETWORK. Networking leads to more paid gigs, more freelance work, more sales of your products, even more friends. This post not only gives you networking tips that really work, but also a few examples from fellow bloggers.
How to Network like a Champ
So much of your success in the blogging world will be tied to making a connection. To “knowing people.”
But that doesn't mean you're getting an unfair advantage. Think about it. Say that Susan the brand rep has to choose five bloggers for a project. If someone told her, “hey- I think Melissa would be the perfect fit for this!” don't you think she'd look at Melissa's blog versus doing the research on her own? If she likes what she sees, that's one less blogger to find.
Networking is give and take, and here's how to do it:
Be a Connector
Networking isn't all about you, you, you. It's also about knowing people and connecting those people with other people.
One book that really made this sink in was Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferazzi. In one part, he says: “Real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.”
In fact, if it weren't for someone making a connection to make ME more successful, I might never have written Blog Design for Dummies OR gotten my job at Burt's Bees. Melanie Nelson (now with Social Media Examiner) actually introduced me to the For Dummies acquisition editor at a Happy Hour event at the Type A Parent Conference. We only talked five minutes, but a couple of months later, I got asked to write Blog Design for Dummies. And my friend Erin went to a marketing luncheon and sat beside someone who mentioned Burt's was looking for a Community Manager. She got a contact name for me and I took over from there!
Speaking of Melanie, the path to her first job started on an airplane:
“In 1994 my husband sat next to a gentleman on a plane while on a business trip. Bill usually doesn't talk to anyone on flights. This time he did. And he told him about me, my going to grad school and being about to graduate and was looking for a job. Turns out he was the CEO of The Williams Company and gave Bill the name of someone to contact in the web development dept of the telecom branch. That's how I got my first job. I crated websites in Notepad b/c there were no other HTML tools. That one discussion — that one job — set my entire career in motion. If it hadn't, I'd be writing instruction manuals in corporate America in a cube.”
Ask Others to Make a Connection
Don't be afraid to ask other bloggers to make an introduction for you, too. In fact, at a recent conference, there was someone I wanted to meet and I happened to see her talking to a close friend of mine on the other side of the room. Later that day, I asked my friend to make an introduction to her. BOOM.
Asking others to make a connection DOESN'T mean emailing a random blogger you have no connection with and asking for a contact name for a brand. You aren't going to get it. And not because they're stingy. It's because they don't know anything about you. They're not going to risk their relationship with that contact for someone they can't vouch for. Build connections before you need them.
Go to Conferences or Local Events
Despite us bloggers being all social networky and stuff, nothing beats face-to-face networking. So try to do it at least a few times a year.
Wondering where to start?
Try searching for events on Meetup. Check out marketing or PR events like those from your local AMA or PRSA chapter. Usually you don't have to be member to attend luncheons (you just pay a higher fee). And, of course, look for conferences. Sometimes googling “[your niche] + conference” can lead to some good finds!
And Erin Lane from A Parenting Production got a regular writing gig that started with a connection made at a conference:
“I met Dina at Type A and that's how I ended up writing for BabyCenter. My neighbor growing up actually helped me get my first job at a PR firm out of college.”
Don't Just Publish on Social… Interact
I know, I know. With so much on our plates, it's easy to get stuck just sharing links and not truly interacting on social. But you can miss some great opportunities that might stem for one casual conversation.
Talk with others on social. On Google Plus. On Twitter. On Facebook. And not just bloggers.
Get involved with some high quality Facebook groups (ask fellow bloggers for some groups you might join if you don't know of any… or start your own!). Whatever you do, don't be a Facebook group hog. I've been in a few groups where people just drop questions and never help anyone else out with theirs. Don't be THAT GIRL.
Listen to how Angela England landed a book deal for Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) that started with a simple online connection:
“I had been chatting with a fellow garden writer in the Suite101 forums and we connected at the first Type A. Her agent saw her tweet a post two years later and began following Untrained Housewife wherein I got a book deal offer before I even knew to ask. Basically every major job I've ever had online has come through a recommendation or referral.”
And check out what happened to Emily Vanek of Colorado Moms when she was just hanging on Twitter:
“I was following Amy Lupold Bair and saw she did these ‘Twitter party things.' I started attending more of them and then saw she did one for Time to Play, I then started following them and chatting online and it ended up getting me a contributor writing gig on their site for a couple years. All because Amy was helping them with a Twitter party.”
Step Outside Your Niche
Mom bloggers: Always going to mom blogger events? Food bloggers: you sticking with the foodies? Shake things up!
Staying inside your niche is a nice, cozy place to be. But it alone won't grow your network. Venture out and interact with those outside your niche, both online and off.
Pay It Forward
Be helpful to others. Spread around that good karma! I know plenty of bloggers who get pitched by brands ALL THE TIME. If an opportunity isn't a fit or they don't have the time, many bloggers will recommend someone else for the job. I do this often when people email me for services I don't offer like coaching or blog design. Make it a point to pay it forward whenever you can. It WILL come back to you in a positive way.
Look what happened to Zina Harrington from Let's Lasso the Moon with a simple recommendation:
“My first big “break” into professional blogging came as a referral from a casual online relationship. As a long-time fan of the blog Inner Child Fun, I invited Valerie Deneen to collaborate with me on a Pinterest board. I admit, I was a bit star-struck and was excited to have casual-everyday conversations with her. Later that year when the toy retailer Melissa & Doug was looking to kickstart their Blog Ambassador program, Valerie recommended me. That simple opportunity has grown into social consulting, driving content marketing campaigns, and much more. As a thank you to her and a way to pay it forward, I always try to recommend at least one fellow blogger when accepting new brand campaign opportunities!”
What's Your Networking Success Story?
What success story, big or small, have you had on account of networking?
Pssst… I'm on Blogging Betties today podcasting, yo! I dish some insight on creating your own online courses. And it was fun too!
Get Productive with Day Batching!
Subscribe and receive this tool to help you get the most out of your week!
Hey- I'm Melissa! I'm a mom, side hustler, online course instructor, and brand marketer. I run a 6-figure blog helping online biz owners find their a-ha moments with can-do tips, tutorials, and online courses. I also work at Burt's Bees as the assistant manager of Brand Engagement (yep, it's as cool as it sounds). Jump start your biz productivity with my free worksheet!