I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but one of the most powerful vehicles for getting ahead in business or in your career today is through blogging.
Very few technologies have come along in the last 10 or 20 years that combined ease of use, versatility, and visibility in quite the same way as blogging has.
Throw in the fact that blogging is dirt cheap and you have a winning combination.
As a result, blogging has become a great tool not just for promoting yourself or your business, but also for networking with VIPs, thought-leaders and others.
Use Time-Tested Strategies
Even though blogging is a relatively new technology, the way you should use it for networking purposes is not new. In fact, it is quite old. In the book Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath, the authors profile a small town newspaper editor named Hoover Adams, who had a very simple mantra for why his newspaper was so successful in its small community.
He called the mantra “names, names, names,” and what it meant was he wanted his reporters and editors to fill the pages of their paper with as many names and photographs of their local residents as possible.
The reasoning was that people like reading about themselves and their friends and neighbors, and people were more likely to absorb a message if they felt they connected with it. This is a strategy newspapers have been using for generations.
You can use your blog in the same way. Talk about people on your blog who you’d like to meet. Mention people you have already met at a face-to-face networking event but who you’d like to get to know better. You can even use your blog as a way of following up with someone in your network. It can be a nice change to sending yet another email or going out to another cup of coffee.
Look for Opportunities to Promote Others
If someone you respect has a book coming out or just launched a new company, write a blog post about it. If someone has an interesting or thought-provoking post on their blog, you can write your own blog post mentioning and linking to their post, and then add your own take. The great thing about this strategy is you are doing good in the world – you are helping others to get their worthwhile messages across.
If you follow this strategy, people are going to develop a deeper connection with you and are going to connect with your message.
One blogger who has written a lot about this strategy is Kevin O’Keefe, founder of LexBlog, a company which helps lawyers become bloggers. O’Keefe has been quoted extensively in the press, and I know part of the reason is because of his strategy for quoting reporters and other bloggers.
He will read an interesting article by a reporter he’d like to get to know, and then he’ll quote that article on his blog, Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Then he’ll add his own take on the subject matter – perhaps even introducing some new ideas which the reporter may want to explore in future articles.
The reporters are grateful to see their names in “print” (even if it’s on a blog), they are grateful for O’Keefe telling his audience about the reporter’s recent story, and they are grateful for the additional ideas he’s given them for more stories. As a result, O’Keefe has another reporter who may quote him in the future.
It’s amazing how easily you can follow this strategy.
How to Use the “Names, Names, Names” Strategy in Blogging
For this example, let’s say you are an architect and you’re looking to advance in your career. A prominent architect who you’d like to get to know better has just come out with a new biography on the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. You’ve just read a blog post by a well-known architecture blogger about the new book.
Keep reading because I’m about to show you how to put the Names, Names, Names Strategy to work for you.
I suggest you do the following:
1. If you can, contact the author of the new biography and tell him or her you’d like to do a quick, 15-20 minute phone interview so you can write your own blog post on the new book.
2. Even if you can’t get in touch with the author, think creatively about if there’s anyone else in your network or who you haven’t met yet that you can interview to include in the blog post. For example, this is a great opportunity to call up the head of a prominent local architectural firm and get a quote from him or her about Frank Lloyd Wright.
3. Quote from the original blog post and from the book. Don’t just parrot what they have to say – add your own take or ideas which contribute to a dialogue on the topic. Include a quote from the head of the prominent local architectural firm. Explore an angle that wasn’t discussed in the blog post you are quoting.
4. After you have written and published the piece, send an email to the blogger and the author with a link to your blog post, saying something like “I really enjoyed your article, and I wanted to let you know it inspired me to write my own post discussing your article on my blog. Thanks again.”
This is a great tool for getting to know someone you haven’t met before, and I’ve used it numerous times. Most of the time, you’ll at least get an email back from the blogger or the author. They should be grateful to you for sharing their works further, and they may also check out your website or bio online. You will want to follow up with them again in the future, so you can continue to nurture your relationship.
Even if you don’t have your own blog, you can easily do this by writing for other blogs that accept guest posts, just like I’m doing here for Dumb Little Man. Google.com/blogsearch is a great tool for finding other blogs where you can write about topics of interest to the types of people you want to connect with.
As an example, earlier this year I co-authored a piece for Forbes called The Secret to Winning A-List Informational Interviews? Learn to Podcast. In that piece, I quoted two popular bloggers and podcasters, Cliff Ravenscraft of PodcastAnswerMan.com, and Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com.
Although I could have written the article without quoting Cliff and Andrew, I took the extra time to get in touch with both of them because I knew they would both add a unique take on the topic, making it a better article. As a result, I was able to deepen my relationship with both Cliff and Andrew.
So the bottom line is, if you take a little extra time to help others by including them in your blog posts, you will do good and you’ll help yourself in the long run.
What tips do you have for using a blog to grow your personal network?
P.S. This article is adapted from a chapter in the free 60+ page ebook on networking I recently released called How to Create Your Personal Networking Plan. If you enjoyed these tips, I think you’ll love the ebook.
Photo Credit: Michael Heiss