This guest post is by Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind.
That’s right folks—I use an online dating service.
It’s no longer a taboo. The vast majority of you at the least know someone who has dipped their toes in the online dating scene. You may have even tried it yourself!
With that said, you may be wondering what on earth online dating has to do with blogging. The answer is actually rather a lot. Networking is one of the most powerful blog promotion tools in your arsenal, but like anything else, there are right and wrong ways of going about it—just as there are when it comes to dating.
If you take the following advice on board and apply it to your own networking efforts, I am confident that you will see a genuinely beneficial return.
1. Be genuinely interesting
Having spoken to some of my female friends, I know for a fact that they get a ton of emails from potential suitors when using online dating services. We’re talking literally hundreds of messages. When you’re dealing with those sorts of numbers, some natural filtering comes into play.
Boring, unimaginative, or generic emails are not going to get any attention. If you spot a girl that you like, you need to make an effort to engage with her in a meaningful fashion.
The same goes for your blog networking efforts. The first step is actually to send an email that’s worth reading. Don’t dare ever use template emails to reach out to other bloggers. Doing is so is essentially broadcasting the fact that you have no interest in that specific person—that you are casting a wide net in the hope of making a catch.
So if you want to reach out to a blogger, take some time to get to know them first, then send them an email which will actually capture their interest. If you don’t know them, you may want to reevaluate why you are emailing them in the first place.
2. Be genuinely interested
When it comes to picking a potential partner, you should be genuinely interested in your prospective date and want to know more about him or her. You should be coming at the situation with the intention of actually bringing positive energy into his or her life. Your focus should not be on what you can get—such an attitude will be spotted from a mile off.
The exact same rule applies when reaching out to other bloggers. If you want something for nothing, you won’t get very far. But if you actually stop for a moment and consider how you might benefit them, rather than just seeking to fulfill your own ambitions, you will get a far more positive response.
If you don’t actually have anything of worth to offer another blogger, perhaps you might consider if you really should be asking them for something.
3. Don’t chase false dreams
Let’s be honest—people can be really shallow. Those who are new to the online dating scene are likely to go straight for the hotties. In time, such people learn that a fulfilling long-term relationship is about far more than just looks. It is then that they start looking for the right attributes in their potential dates—shared interests, a similar sense of humor, and so on.
New bloggers are often obsessed with reaching out to “A-list” bloggers, in the hope that they will be rewarded with an avalanche of traffic. The A-list bloggers are the aforementioned hotties—the unlikely dream.
However, most experienced bloggers will tell you that the relationships they established with bloggers at or around their level have been far more beneficial and productive than any attempt to engage with the A-list.
This goes back to the idea that you should be able to offer something of worth in order to receive a benefit in kind. Bloggers who are around your level will for the most part be delighted to engage with you, and a number of direct and indirect benefits can arise out of such relationships.
4. Don’t tell them your life story
Have you ever been on one of those awkward dates where someone has shared far more than you ever wanted to know at such a formative stage? It’s a big turn-off, isn’t it? And yet bloggers persist in telling their life stories to people they have never met in emails that are so long, they will never get read.
Here’s the deal: if you are reaching out to a blogger with an audience of any considerable size, they will probably be receiving emails on a daily basis. They’re far more likely to read and respond to the emails that are concise and to the point.
I am not saying that you should be cold and calculating in your emails, but you should be mindful of the blogger’s time, and suitably brief. If someone wants to read your life story, they’ll ask for it.
5. Don’t expect anything
When it comes to online dating, expectation is your worst enemy. You can be paralyzed into inaction by the fear of rejection or failure. Once you let that go, and reach out to people without expectation of what may or may not happen, the whole process becomes far more enjoyable.
The same can be said of your networking efforts. You may have in the past considered contacting bloggers, but decided not to, for fear of being ignored or irritating them. But really, what’s the worst that can happen? If you are contacting them with a genuine wish to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, any outcome is favorable:
- If they respond positively, great.
- If they ignore you, clearly the time isn’t right.
- If they respond negatively, it is now clear that they are not worth your time.
Bloggers need to have thick skin. You’ll be shunned. People will sometimes react negatively to you. It’s the same deal in the dating world. The sooner you learn to accept the inevitable and roll with the punches, the more successful you will be in your efforts.
Value in, value out
Without wanting to get too deep and meaningful, all of the above advice comes down to one key understanding: if you treat others as you would like to be treated, you will ultimately benefit.
Do you agree with my natural, “organic” form of networking, or do you have a different approach? Please voice your opinions in the comments section—I’d love to hear from you!