Rob May at Businesspundit shares some good advice on ‘How to network for introverts‘ in the offline world. Let’s apply Rob’s wisdom to networking via blogs.
Blogging, unlike websites, is all about networking. And networking with your target audience, prospective customers or clients and those who influence prospective customers or clients, is what grows your business.
- Networking is an investment, not a nuisance. Imagine if prospective clients could read citations attributed to you on other blogs or find you in seconds at Google performing a general topic search for what you do. Imagine without ever doing any public relations work reporters for mass and trade media contacting you. Imagine prospective clients contacting you via online word of mouth discussion about you. By putting in the time to build your network on the blosgosphere, this happens. Pick your poison. Do you want to put in the time now, or later?
- At first, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. You’ll need to pick bloggers to network with at random from Google and Technorati searches. You’ll set up RSS feeds of blogs and keywords to listen to the blog discussion. It may be a little uncomfortable to take snippets from other blogs and write commenting about what you read, but you’ll learn what and who to blog about and what to skip. Eventually you’ll find blog publishers you like and topics you like writing about.
- Don’t spend too much time on it. If you wear yourself out, you won’t ever want to do it. Listen to the blog discussion via your RSS reader and post to your blog when you have time and when it’s fun to do so. A Harvard Business School newsletter says posting to a business blog once a week is fine. Once it only takes 15 or 20 minutes to put up a nice post and you’re getting strong feedback, you may find yourself posting 2 or 3 times a week. If you’re tied up and you miss a week or two, that’s okay. Publishing a blog is meant to be fun.
- Do cool things. Rob was right on here as it applies to blogs. Introverts typically don’t like to talk about themselves – we prefer to talk about ideas. Force yourself to discuss some of the things you’ve done. Don’t brag, make sure they are relevant to the conversation. Then the extroverts can talk about you and pass your achievements along. It gives you credibility in some circles. Yes, I realize you would rather be accepted for what you think and know, but the truth is that the world measures you by what you do.
- Invite people to meet. We may be across the country or town from people we meet via blogs. When you travel, let people, even those you have not exchanged emails with but who may be reading your blog, know by posting to your blog you’re in town and would like to get together. I learned this one from Scoble and have met people all over the country (and got some good business) as a result.
- Go regularly to things you like. Monitor the blogs and the keywords and key phrases on things you like. Blog about what these bloggers are writing about, no matter how famous or influential you may believe these people may be. These bloggers will start blogging about your content and dropping you emails. Sure it’s uncomfortable, but you just have to keep showing up, month after month.
- Analyze your results. Introverts are intuitive and analytical. Use that skill. What is working? What isn’t? Where do you get the most bang for your buck?
- Find the key nodes in the network. Don’t find just ‘a person’ in your target audience, find someone who knows lots of people in your target audience and get to know them. If networking wears you out, you will be better off finding the ten key people who all know lots of other people, than finding and maintaining fifty relationships.
- Don’t network just for the sake of networking. As you meet more people, focus on spending your time with the ones that are the best fit, and focus less on meeting new people. This is key to blogging. You’ll find after awhile you can meet just about anyone. But blogging is all about empowering your readers to cite and share what you write about with others in your target audience. Remember your readers have an interest in the niche you’re blogging about.
Like Rob says “knowing lots of people reduces your headaches by a factor of 10 when you need to get something done. Requests from strangers don’t get filled as quickly as requests from acquaintances or friends.”
Blogs have a leg up on networking in the offline world. You can easily find others with interests to similar yours. Entering the discussion requires no invitation and takes only minutes at a time. What are you waiting for?