A new topic we haven’t touched on yet here at BFK–networking! This is an important skill to have, especially when you’re first starting out! Blair and I both strongly agree on the fact that there is strength in numbers, and you grow more individually when you surround yourself with a strong, smart, network of bloggers who you can lean on! (Plus, they might just end up being some of your best friends!)
But, how do you get there? The truth is–there is a right and a wrong way to go about networking. We would know–we’ve been on both sides!
So, we decided to reach out to a handful of our blogger friends (and composed our own thoughts on the topic as well) to put together the do’s and don’ts of blogger networking. Keep these tips in mind before you compose your next outreach email, and we’re willing to bet you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by an awesome, uplifting network of bloggers!
DON’T: Ask vague, generic questions
Nothing is more irritating than receiving an email from someone you don’t know, asking you a vague question that will take a significant chunk of time to answer.
For example, “Hi there! I just started a blog, and I’m wondering if you have any advice for newbies? Thanks!”
To properly answer this in a way that is going to help this person, it would probably take at least an hour. Plus, there is so much information out there on this very subject already! It seems like this person isn’t actually that motivated to start a blog, because they’re too lazy to even google “tips for starting a blog” themselves.
Personally, if I have to spend a ton of time answering a generic question that I know could be solved by a simple google search, I’m really not that driven to help this person.
DO: Ask thoughtful questions that show you’ve done your research
Instead, you could reach out to them asking for very specific advice that only they can give. Make sure to do your research, and make sure that they haven’t written a blog post on the topic before. Even better, ask a follow-up question to a post they’ve done in the past. For example:
I absolutely loved your blog post on ____, I actually implemented some of your tips and they helped immensely–I can’t thank you enough! I was wondering your thoughts on ____, and if it’s helped in your experience? Any quick thoughts you have would be so appreciated.”
Why this is better than, “Hi, um, do you have any blogging advice?”
It shows you are an invested reader, that you’ve done your research, and that you want HER advice on the topic–nobody else’s. Not only does this make her feel special (personal injection: emails like this are part of why I LOVE blogging!) but it makes her want to go out of her way to help you, and cultivates a friendship!
DON’T: Reach out to huge bloggers with massive followings
Okay this is embarrassing but I’m going to share this piece of information for the sake of illustrating my point. When I first started my blog, want to know who I reached out to for advice?
Cupcakes and Cashmere, Atlantic-Pacific, and Cup of Jo.
(Was I freaking kidding!?)
Pinpointing the right bloggers to reach out to for advice and mentorship is crucial.
Pick someone who is doing what you want to be doing, but is not so big to where they probably aren’t going to see your email, or have time to respond to it.
(Heck, even MY email inbox is a black hole, and it’s hard enough for me to have time to respond to every email–I am a peanut sized blogger compared to many!)
DO: Reach out to bloggers with a slightly larger following than you
I’ve found that I learn the most from my blogging peers who are slightly ahead of me. (Not lightyears ahead of me). Why is this? Because they were JUST in my shoes. They weren’t in my shoes 5 years ago when everything was different–they were there 6 months, or a year ago. It’s fresh in their minds!
Plus, when you’re on a more even playing field, you can learn so much from each other. This type of networking has allowed me to learn and grow so much faster than I normally would have, and forge some incredibly strong friends in the process.
DON’T: Send cold, poorly worded emails
This should go without saying, but bloggers are first and foremost writers. Poorly constructed sentences and bad grammar stick out like a sore, very irritating thumb, and tell the blogger that whoever is writing the email is just plain lazy.
If you can’t be bothered to compose a professional email, chances are, she doesn’t want to be bothered to answer it. Furthermore, it’s much easier for a blogger to forget an email from a stranger, vs. someone they’re already familiar with from the online world.
DO: Cultivate a friendship first, send a professional email later
Instead of sending an email first, try interacting with those bloggers you’d like to network with on social media! Comment on their instagram (with meaningful comments not just “cute!” or “great look!”), retweeting their tweets, or share their Facebook posts on an ongoing basis.
Cultivating a friendship via social media is pretty similar to how you’d do it in person. Go out of your way to interact with them, and they will notice! Then, when your [well-worded and thoughtful, right ;-)?] email pops up in their inbox, they’ll say “oh gosh, I love her! I’d love to help her!”
DON’T Ask for too much time
I wrote an article called, “Stop asking people to coffee” a year or so ago on my own blog, and I hit hard on this point. While it’s the nicest gesture in the world to say, “I’d love to buy you a coffee in exchange for your time!”–that just doesn’t work anymore. Most people our age don’t even have time to get coffee with their best friend, much less a total stranger.
DO: Suggest a quick phone call, or lay out very specific questions via email
For whatever reason, this seems counter-intuitive first, right? It’s totally common in the professional world to ask to “grab coffee” but not “can I talk to you on the phone?”
This might not be the right thing to say to an old-school business woman who likes things done the old fashioned way, but for young millennials who are strapped for time and like to cut straight to the chase–it’s the perfect solution. Something like,
I hope you’re having a great week! My name is (your name) (I’m @yourhandle on Instagram!) and we’ve never officially “met.” You inspired me to start my own blog last year, and I really admire [X unique quality] about your blog and brand.
I’ve been having some trouble with [that specific category], and I would love to ask you a couple of questions and get your advice! I was going to ask if I could buy you a coffee, but I know how busy you are, and even just a few minutes over the phone would be so appreciated.
Let me know what you think–absolutely no pressure!
Thanks so much,