How to Build Your Own Blogger Brain Trust
In the first of this two-part series, we talked about The Power of the Blogger Friend Network.
There, eight bloggers shared with us the most crucial reasons for finding a community of like-minded creatives for the success of your blog.
We learned that, when carefully cultivated, blogger friends can develop deep bonds, inspire new ideas, and even help form the building blocks of a business.
But how does a blogger go from a one-man show to having an extensive online network of advisers and friends?
I tapped the same group of bloggers to talk about how they built their ever-growing networks and asked them to share tips and best practices. Here’s what they had to say.
1. FIND THEM WHERE THEY ARE: Human contact is key
Similar to how you’d network for any other professional or social function, growing your blog network is all about variety. That includes seeking out local blogger groups, regional or national conferences within your blog’s specific niche, virtual networking through online forums and social media chats, and attending blogger/media tours when the opportunity arises. Pursuing a variety of networking opportunities means you’ll experience a variety of bloggers. – Amanda Hicken of clePOP and Beyond PR, @adhicken
I started by attending every event I got invited to, big or small. By doing this I continued to see the same familiar faces and we eventually all became friends. I got invited to more and more events, met more and more companies and brands, got to travel and get paid to collaborate with different brands – all through friends and by networking. – Chanelle Laurence of The Penelope Times and Valley High, @chanelledotcom
2. LISTEN AND BE KIND: It goes a long way
People in the social media space are storytellers; embrace your own story and lean in to hear what others have to say. – Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, @sixuntilme
The big thing for me is that I’m very friendly with everyone no matter how big or small an audience is (i.e., everyone is important). It just was an organic and authentic evolution of working together. – Chelsea LaVere of Tidewater and Tulle, @TidewaterTulle
My advice to other bloggers in forming a network is find a few bloggers to read regularly and whose opinion you respect – and just start a conversation. Comment frequently, but be respectful. – Greg Zimmerman, The New Dork Review of Books, @NewDorkReview
3. SEEK OUT PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES: Create alliances for growth
I take any chance to guest post, help a friend out with a feature, or collaborate on a project. By reaching out, you’re creating a bridge to new opportunities and helping foster a team spirit throughout the industry. – Chelsea LaVere of Tidewater and Tulle, @TidewaterTulle
Community building has accelerated our business in what we can offer our audiences. We’ve collaborated successfully on content partnerships, expanding the voices that appear on our blog regularly. It’s a matter of identifying mutual goals, communicating and establishing great working relationships and transitioning them from the online world to the real world. – Sarahlynn Pablo, co-founder of Filipino Kitchen with Natalia Roxas-Alvarez, @filipinokitchen
4. PAY IT FORWARD: It’s a give-give relationship
Networking is about building relationships, and I have watched people go from not knowing one another’s names to sharing intimate moments. Those “me, too” moments are powerful. – Kerri Sparling of Six Until Me, @sixuntilme
Make sure to go into it with a “give-give” attitude – it won’t work if you’re expecting something in return every time you do something for someone. – Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting, @ofdconsulting
5. BE AUTHENTIC: Transparency trumps trickery
Be genuine and true to whatever brand you’ve established. Politeness, friendliness and appreciating others’ work goes a long, long way. Don’t always look to get something directly out of an email or a retweet. Building a community is its own reward. – Sarahlynn Pablo, co-founder of Filipino Kitchen with Natalia Roxas-Alvarez, @filipinokitchen
Be authentic. I can’t stress that enough. Candidly, most of my connections started off because we mutually love cats (Like, LOVE cats), animals, or some other non-wedding-related thing. So in a natural progression, we found the personal connection, and that made our professional relationship much more meaningful. – Chelsea LaVere of Tidewater and Tulle, @TidewaterTulle
As much as I enjoy the “eye candy” aspect of highly curated Instagram feeds, I find that that my strongest online relationships have stemmed from people who believe in the same level of transparency that I do. – Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting, @ofdconsulting
6. ALWAYS PRODUCE VALUABLE CONTENT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE: The people will come
We’re clear on our brand, who our audience is, and the types of contacts we need to create great content for them. Putting great content forward on our blog and starting the dialog on our social media channels attracts new contacts. – Sarahlynn Pablo, co-founder of Filipino Kitchen with Natalia Roxas-Alvarez, @filipinokitchen
Don’t try to publicize your content on other people’s sites (their blog is not your advertising space) or be overtly self-promotional, in general. If your stuff is good, people will find it. Be patient – it takes a minute. – Greg Zimmerman, The New Dork Review of Books, @NewDorkReview
7. JUST ASK: What do you have to lose?
If I see that a blogger will be in my region, I’ll be the first to drop them a line and invite them to coffee. Likewise, if I’m traveling to a locale where a blogger may live, I don’t hesitate to reach out and see if we can catch up. While the majority of our networking takes place online, I find that the face-to-face time is invaluable if you can get it. – Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting, @ofdconsulting
Just be you and don’t be afraid to reach out. The blogging world is a great one with a lot of media power, and it’s only stronger together! – Chelsea LaVere of Tidewater and Tulle, @TidewaterTulle
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Anna Jasinski is manager of audience relations at PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at @annamjasinski for expert tips on writing and social media. You can also catch her tweeting the latest news in journalism and blogging on @BeyondBylines.