14 Ways to Build Strategic Relationships with the Who’s Who of Social Media

image of men on battlefield

You know the feeling.

You’ve worked hard on a new post, a new video or a groundbreaking new product.

You release it to the world. Publish it to all the social networks, share it with your email list, tell your friends … and nothing happens.

The needle doesn’t move.

Sometimes you just feel stuck. You’re doing everything “you should be doing” but not really going anywhere.

You’ve worked hard to get people to notice you and your company. You’ve got a little traction here and there, but it’s not enough. You feel like you’ve paid your dues but you’re not getting paid back.

There has to be a better way.

There is, and that’s where industry influencers come into play. 

With a little help from the influencers (and their massive audiences) you can move from obscurity to a firm place on the map. Without their help, your future’s unclear.

But how do you make those initial connections?

Well, the answers are right in front of you. I’m about to share 14 secrets with you to building relationships with the Who’s Who of your industry.

Use with care. Remember that online influencers are people just like you are. Networking is 98% about being a nice person and having good manners. So go ahead and use these “secrets,” but use them with respect.

1. Start cultivating

Pick a small set of influencers (say 4-6 people) to start with.

Subscribe to their blogs (via email or RSS), follow them in Twitter, connect on Google+, subscribe to their Facebook updates, “like” their Facebook page, and join LinkedIn Groups that they own or are actively participating in. If you can, attend a live event they’re speaking at.

Check in on them regularly and start to engage in conversations with them on their blog and via social media. This will prepare the foundation to take the actions that follow.

2. Show your support

Next, become their best supporter.

This might include linking to them (especially with an interesting, well-written post), buying some of their products, sharing their posts and promotions on Facebook, promoting their LinkedIn group, retweeting them (and adding positive comments), being an active blog commenter, and generally adding value in their sphere of influence.

It’s not sucking up — it’s showing that you’re reading their stuff and thinking about it.

3. Become their informal (or formal) “Community Manager”

A very powerful secret to adding value and to getting to know an influencer is to fill a vacuum in one of their communities.

If they have a following on LinkedIn, Facebook, or in a forum (it can be free or part of a paid program), proactively take on the role of an informal “community manager.”

Help newbies get oriented. Create mini-tutorial posts or videos. Help answer questions that might be slipping between the cracks.

As a LinkedIn Group owner, I can tell you that the people who help me with these things in my community are worth their weight in gold. Anytime they contact me, they immediately have my attention. As an added bonus, you’re also building authority and good will with the other members of that community.

4. Connect them to a great resource or person

When spying on respectfully connecting with your influencer, pay close attention to their goals and frustrations.

For example, maybe they post on Facebook saying, “Just committed to doing a fundraiser for my son’s Boy Scout troop. Anyone have fundraising tips?” or “God, this new Gizmo D5000 makes me feel like a moron.”

In the first case, maybe you have a friend who’s a rockstar fundraiser, and you set up a phone call for them to talk.

In the second, maybe you dig up a great guide someone wrote for the Gizmo D5000, and you send them a link.

Either way, you’re their new hero. How do you think they are going to respond the next time you ask for a favor?

5. Cover their keynote

This is one of my favorites.

Go to a conference or other event where influencers are presenting. Pick some of the more popular speakers or topics, get a good seat for pictures, and take thorough notes. Then quickly write one or more great posts including valuable information, pictures, and video clips related to the talk.

Here’s an example post from BlogWorld that paid huge dividends for me in terms of visibility and recognition.

6. Offer free consulting to improve their business

Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can offer an influencer is your own time or expertise.

Again, listen for their goals and frustrations, and wait for them to talk about an area where you can help. Then, at an opportune moment, pop in and tell them it’s your specialty, and you’d be happy to give them an hour of free consulting. When would be a good time?

Chances are, you’ll get to have a long telephone conversation where you can prove you know your stuff. Instant connection and authority.

(We shouldn’t have to say this but we will: Don’t offer a consultation in your influencer’s area of expertise, unless of course you are, in fact, more proficient than they are at that topic.)

7. Review their book, product or event

The best time to engage an influencer is at the early stage of a launch when they’re working on getting the word out. That’s when they’ll be most open to an interview or to sharing your review broadly via social media.

Write an articulate, creative and scannable post to make sure it gets a lot of attention and shares.

I’ve seen too many average and uninspired reviews that are just not share-worthy. Take the time to get it right, and then be sure to mention it to them, so they can share it for you.

8. Interview them

If you’re a nice and fairly intelligent person, people can’t help but feel closer to you after they talk with you. And what’s the easiest way to talk to an expert?

An interview.

Find a good reason to interview them (like the launch mentioned above), or create an event or series like “The Top Architects Interview Series” that would stroke their ego a bit. Ask them for the interview, and if they accept, post it to your site.

Using the strategy, you’ll have helped to promote them and will also have had the opportunity to get to know them personally.

9. Tell them something’s broken

Have you ever signed up for an industry influencer’s program or subscribed to their email list and noticed a glitch? A link that takes you to a blank page or has an embarrassing typo?

Well, most people are too shy to say anything about it. Be the person who steps up and tells them about it (privately). They’ll appreciate it!

10. Give them honest feedback

Too often industry influencers have a bunch of “yes men” (and women) following them. Everything they do is golden, right?

Well, if you find the right opportunity or topic, try providing a constructive and well-thought-out counterpoint.

Do this only if you strongly believe you’ve got something valuable to add. This is a dangerous one, because if you do it wrong, they might take offense. If you’re only disagreeing to be contrary, you’ll just make yourself an annoying pest.

But, if you do it thoughtfully with the right influencer, it can totally set you apart.

11. Create a valuable resource for your community

Have you ever heard an influencer’s say, “If I had time to create [great resource XYZ], I would do it!”

Well, if you have the skills and time, do it yourself. For example, they might say, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of all the best posts about [insert fascinating topic]?” Well, take a few hours together all the best posts, publish it on your own blog, and then send them a link.

Do it well, and you might just get yourself a link.

12. Riff off one of their ideas (not rip off)

Ever read On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas, the popular post by Jon Morrow?

Well, what you may have not realized is it’s riffing off another popular post Brian Clark wrote called The Snowboard, the Subdural Hematoma, and the Secret of Life. Same headline structure, same three acts, same inspirational message.

I don’t want to put words in Brian’s mouth, but I’m guessing he was flattered. Someone taking your art and using it to create their own art is a huge compliment.

13. Become a customer

As Jon says in his guest blogging course, buying an influencer’s program, product or service is a great way to get to know them, especially if it offers you direct access to them.

Be their best student. Take their lessons to heart, and succeed so they’ll want to use you as a case study.

Not only will it help you create a new connection, but it will build your own authority as well.

14. Offer to write a guest post

If you’ve built up some social capital with an influencer or blog owner, consider pitching a guest post concept you know you can over-deliver on.

If they accept, your post will typically get published on their site in exchange for a byline with a link back to your site. You’ll not only get more standing and recognition in the industry, but you’ll be able to develop a relationship with the blog owner/influencer.

Can you go too far?

Absolutely.

I don’t want to leave without providing some quick guidelines to keep you from going overboard. Just a few quick tips:

  • Only make connections with people whose work you genuinely admire and respect. It will show.
  • It’s networking, not stalking. You need to know where that line is. Respect boundaries.
  • Be helpful, not annoying.
  • Don’t expect an instant return. Networking is about relationships, not exchanging favors.
  • Treat everyone with respect. Not just the people you consider “influencers.”

If in doubt, be courageous.

Don’t sit back worrying if someone is going to find you annoying or think you’re a suck up. Get out there and get noticed.

Will you sit up, take action, and march yourself out of obscurity, or will you be satisfied with what could have been?

No-brainer, right?

So get out there and do it!

About the Author: Tom Treanor helps business owners to get traffic, leads and sales via their blog and social media. Be sure to register for his upcoming business blogging webinar.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing some pretty useful networking tips Tom. Love it how you’ve been so comprehensive with your list.

    What I tend to do is create a twitter list of 10-20 awesome folks and then keep a look out for conversation topics. With a goal of connecting with them 3 times a week. Either sharing their messages, or commenting on their blogs, or asking them a question, or responding and helping them. 3 times in 7 days seem to be the perfect balance of not being too pushy, yet not being forgettable. (Research also shows that a frequency of 3 repetitions in 7 days is necessary to seep into declarative memory and being remembered.)

    • Ankesh, that’s a smart way to quickly get on the radar with the right folks. I like the systematic approach because that will work a lot faster than by just being opportunistic. Of course you have to wait for the right openings to engage either way but with your method you’re halfway there by being focused. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Very nicely done Tom… I’m obviously a fan of yours and this is top-notch work.

    You’ve essentially laid out in a Business oriented format “How to Build Relationships.”

    Which is very powerful (as long as it’s done with sincerity).

    Thanks!

    Ryan H

    • Hey Ryan, you make a great point that is really worth emphasizing. Sincerity is a key element here that people might think doesn’t belong in “strategic relationship building”. That’s actually wrong because you can sense an insincere person either right away or after a couple of interactions.

      Here’s my philosophy. Most of us think our content is good but often it doesn’t get much attention. I believe that promoting it actively to give it a chance is fair game. It may turn out that after they’ve seen it, the readers don’t love it. So we may need to go back to the drawing board (that’s how we grow).

      Similarly if you believe you’re a talented person who has unique gifts, these methods give you an opportunity to be seen by more people and it may lead to huge things or it may not. Toiling quietly in obscurity and not pushing the envelope a little doesn’t give this great and sincere person their chance to be seen and recognized (or to fail and adjust).

      Thanks for the comment and for bringing up an excellent point!

  3. Howdy Tom. Congrats my friend. You nailed a great piece here on Copyblogger.

    My favorite part? “Have good manners”.

    This was a side point for you, but oh so important. You can’t just go in with this mindset of “me, me, me”. Instead, if we go in with a heart that genuinely wants to just help and serve, with NO EXPECTATIONS in return, we end up reaping untold rewards. Even if it’s just the benefit of having a new friend that you’ve helped.

    Yes? :-)

    Thanks Tom….. Eric

    • Hi Eric. I completely agree. The side points are actually so important because lack of things like manners will erode all the hard work you do. Also being sincere and genuine and not expecting are so important. One thing I’ll note is that I don’t like or encourage the people who are only sincere/genuine to influencers but could care less about a single email subscriber or beginner blogger. I think that’s also the wrong attitude.

      Thanks for the insightful comment as always Eric!

      • Yes. Being sincere and genuine comes from the “core” of a person. Period. You can’t fake it.

        So whether your building a relationship with a top-tier guru, or being responsive to a single email subscriber, be nice will ya! :-)

  4. Hi Tom

    As someone who is yet to build more significant realtionships with intustry leaders, I really appreciate the time and information that you have put into this post. I’ve always tended to shy away from the whole “networking” situation but have come to realize that its a very important part of the equation. Your sugestions are simple yet actionable and I’ll be taking them under my wing moving forward.

    Great ideas, thanks Tom

    • Jackie,
      I used to think that successful people rose up all by themselves because they were so fantastic. The more I talked to successful people, heard their stories, or read about them, the more I learned that 99% of them got a break by an influencer or mentor. A lot of the top bloggers today grew with support from those who came before them. We need to realize that the faster way to succeed is with help vs. just trying to brute force it by ourselves.
      Thank you for the nice comment!
      Tom

  5. Hi Tom, fantastic post! Not only spot on but just the right mix of great info and humour!
    Often those that are newer to the social world feel like the new kid at school, they assume everyone already has their cliques and doesn’t have room for a new friend … usually nothing could be further from the truth! I have always found that ‘influencers’ are influencers because they are genuinely nice people and as such are happy to meet new people. Your tips should help guide people into strong, mutually beneficial relationships! Bravo!

    • Thank you Gemma! Yes, while relationships are already formed amongst the influencers (and it will always be the case), they are often welcoming and helpful – if you can get their attention ;) Another way to think about it is that we all need to be buildling relationships with our peers and grow together (in addition to working with established people). That way we succeed faster and establish deeper links with others who have the potential to become a new wave of influencers. I appreciate your comment!

  6. Thanks, Tom, for the reminders that people are still people and how we treat others is how we’ll be perceived and remembered. Some things never change.

    • Yes Marsha. Those things definitely don’t change. But rather than worrying about our neighborhood reputation, with social media we now worry about our reputation world-wide! Thanks for the comment.

  7. I LOVE this post! I’ve felt conflicted about whether to promote my own posts via social media or posts by others. For a long time, I focused on my own. That does help get some traffic, but the latter really helps with relationships. Especially, as you point out, if it’s sincere. I actually feel so great and positive draw attention to others’ work that I think is great. Anyway, thanks for this! Have a great day, Tom!

    • Thank you Emmon. I try to do a mix of both and encourage/support the people I’m a fan of. I’ve seen some people that are 100% sharing others’ content and generating a lot of good will that way. Of course we see the other side as well (100% self-promotional). Find that right mix for yourself but realize that your content is great (I’m assuming) and that hiding it is also not doing you any good or helping you grow/learn as quickly.

  8. I think asking for an interview is a great idea. Everyone is always on the lookout for a new place to promote themselves and their personal brand. You get to start building a relationship and they get a little exposure–it’s a win for everyone!

    • Absolutely! And if the first couple are too busy, don’t give up. Check your approach (are you being pushy or not giving them enough value in return?) but if it checks out, keep trying. Once you get one interview done, it will be easier for the others to say yes. Thanks Nick.

  9. I’d say Brian Clark may have a few words in his mouth as of right now! :) I didn’t know the post by Jon was a ‘riff’ – as you so eloquently put it – on Brian’s post, which is of course, as good as it gets.

    Great pointers Tom.

    • You know, when you put yourself out there it can be uncomfortable. You’re right. Who knew whether Brian would be unhappy about that or love it! When you start engaging with people who have a big audience there is some risk that it will go the wrong way but use your common sense and take a small gamble. The rewards can be great and if it goes wrong, most people have a short memory.

      Thanks for the comment Momekh

      • Jon’s ripped me off riffed on me more blatantly than that many times. ;)

        All kidding aside, the reality is that Jon’s post stands on its own. He perhaps looked to my previous post for structure and the courage to reveal a very personal story, but beyond that, it’s all him. Such an inspirational message, and I’m flattered if I helped him get it out there in any way.

      • You are most welcome, Tom.
        Now that you put it that way, my gamble’s paying off too ;)
        @Brian: And nothing like seeing some humility mixed with humor. :) Praise the Lord for the strike or del tag though. :)

      • When I wrote Danny Iny is a Liar post, I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say to it :) Fortunately he thought it was valuable and shared it with his Twitter followers and even linked to it from Firepole Marketing.

        But I guess I really couldn’t know what he’d think about it. Well, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”… ;D

        Great pointers here Tom, as always :)

        • Funny Peter. I was thinking along those sames lines about taking risks mentioning other people’s names. I saw a blog recently where the testimonials said things like “I hate this blog and will never come back” signed (some guru). Apparently he put those up without asking and just hoped they were okay with it. I thought – that’s a little risky – but it’s also pretty creative and the gurus probably got a laugh out of it.

          Thanks for sharing your story to make it more real Peter!

  10. Great advice! I’ve started to attract some guest bloggers to my site and the first couple of articles have been rather long and wordy. I will definitely use some of these tips to make future posts more readable. Thanks!

    • Yes, I usually have to remove the excess baggage from of my posts and I think many of us try to over-explain ourselves (at least initially)

  11. Excellent ideas – really like the idea of covering their keynote and interviewing them. I also like the idea of offering free consulting and helping them out with pain points. I just had lunch with someone who I’d love to work with and solved some problems for them and didn’t really realize the power of what had happened until I read your post. Thanks!

    • Denise, the great thing about this is that there are so many creative ways to get on the radar. The conference thing was a lot of fun and not only did Peter Shankman love it, but Blog World (and a lot of the other bloggers) loved it too. So that was a win-win-win. It takes some courage and the belief that you can do it. Don’t write something average or you’ll have to wait again for the next conference! Put your heart and soul into it and get it up fast.

  12. re. “Only make connections with people whose work you genuinely admire and respect. It will show” & “It’s networking, not stalking.” The martial arts community, which I blog about, is a tight knit group. Years ago, I met a group from St. Louis that I really admire. I brag on them constantly, like they were my own kids: celebrating their victories, sharing the lessons they taught me, etc.

    I’ve always jokingly referred to myself as their fan, their groupie and (sometimes) “that creepy, stalker fan girl from Chicago.”

    Not only do they share the love when the get the chance, it means so much when they do. I have no qualms sharing their successes but, when they share one of mine, it’s a real “aww, shucks” moment. Plus, I get a *serious* spike in readership. Bonus! :)

    • Stacy – thank you for the story to make it “real”. It’s so much easier to get on the radar when you know who/what you are really passionate about. You prove that here by (almost) stalking this particular comnunity and they help you out when you need it. Awesome! Thanks for sharing

  13. Excellent ideas. I found myself shaking my head a lot through this article. You’ve put into words what I do in silence. Job well done.

    I found it interesting that you talk about a keynote speech from Peter Shankman, I have one too. It’s called, “Live Blogging Trianagle AMA Digital Marketing Training Camp 2012: Deliver Amazing Customer Service With Social Media”

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Damond. Yes, it’s great when you see someone write about what you do – unless you were planning to write a breakthrough post about that topic first! How did your live-blogging post do? Did it help you get on the radar of the attendees or any of the speakers?

  14. Tom –

    I’ve used many of these tips and they have proven to be pretty successful. What I’ve noticed is that the social media influencers that I have reached out to are usually pretty quick to respond and offer help or feedback. They are influencers because they are respected and they are respected because they are (in general) good people. They seem to be willing to help others out just as much as we want to help them.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Brad. I totally agree. As long as you don’t approach them expecting things and if you respect that they’re busy, they can be very helpful. Thank you for the comment!

  15. Wow Tom – those are some great solid ideas. I find that people, when approached the right way, are happy to help. You have definitely show us how to approach them the right way. Thanks again – I love reading stuff I can implement right away!

  16. This is absolutely great advice. I think these steps go for any Industry that you want to master. If you want to be the best in anything that you do, you have to learn from people that have already done it. Most people think that all guru’s are jerks. Some of them are, but most of them are not. They are more helpful than most know. So get to know them and help foster your own career as a Professional Blogger.

    • Lincoln. These techniques can apply to any industry and in fact, for non-blogging or non-marketing industries they would be very effective (because less people would be using them). It’s a great opportunity for creative business owners or corporate marketers to get their company to stand out from the crowd.

  17. I have to say I’ve recently become a fan of copyblogger. This is a great post! I like how you suggested being a supporter and being a customer. So many times in our industry, we want to get free information. If it’s someone you TRULY admire, you SHOULD put money in their pockets. This list is gold!

    • Yes, there are times where it’s so much faster and more valuable to buy in. You have to make sure that there are real opportunities for access though. Some “gurus” try to limit the access and completely outsource the coaching, etc. I like program where that person is actually there seeing your work product, giving you feedback, and encouraging the students or clients to succeed – sometimes by showcasing the student work publicly. Thanks for adding to the discussion LuSundra!

  18. Absolutely fantastic, Tom. This is my kind of content, man!

    It de-mystifies something that for some reason seems tricky for people. LIke Ryan said, you explained “building relationships”.

    I had a guest post this week that kinda “riffs off of” (well, at least expands on) one of your points – #2, show your support. Much like Eric, I’m focusing on a ‘side-point’ of your article, but being an active blog commenter is a skill, and I introduce people to it here: ( http://www.logallot.com/holy-grail-praise-worthy-comments-1/ )

    Anyway, congrats on this, and you just made the interwebz (and CopyBlogger – to me, this definitely seems like something that belongs here) a better place. Rock on and keep ryzing, superstar.

    • Nice post Jason. Yes, I think this is one strategy I’ve actually underutilized. I agree with your point that if you’re going to bother to comment, it should really move the conversation forward or add value. I don’t comment as much as I should but when I do I try to bring something new (if something can be added, that is). I have done a version of your strategy on a couple of blogs and it has paid off by deepening the relationships with the blog owner (in a couple of cases inspiring their next blog posts and getting credited). I appreciate the great input!

      • Thanks so much, Tom! That means a lot. I poured my heart and soul into that post — and if you read it, there was a cliff-hanger at the end — my actual commenting ‘system’ is explained in part 2, and it’s an eye-opener :)

        I figured it wasn’t something you focused on, but you gave me such a great opportunity to share. You made a big point that *supporting others* is a powerful ‘secret ingredient’ in connecting with others, and commenting is part of that support.

        An engaged community is awesome (thanks Danny Iny + Engagement From Scratch friends), and an engaged community who are talented conversationalists is even better :)

        CopyBlogger offers so much value to the net, and I feel a post that goes in-depth into the art of commenting definitely helps. (I made a joke to the original blog-owner that I could’ve easily pitched the post here, because it suits CB quite well :P)

        Anyway, it all adds up to more people building better relationships, online and off. Amen to that.

  19. Social networking Etiquette is such a HUGE thing that you could write a post on it just by itself! I’ve bookmarked this post and am going to print it out because I think it’s just that good :) And in addition to the points on the list there, look at what those people you want to attract are doing and always ask yourself, “How can I help?”

    Reminds me of that Zig Ziglar quote that you can have whatever you want in life if you help enough people get what they want. Great article, Tom!

    • Sherice. I agree with you about the etiquette discussion – it could be a nice long post. The “how can I help” idea is a good one because you can apply that any time anywhere and I’m sure come up with some innovative ways to get on the radar. Love the quote. Thanks Sherice!

  20. Sounds like somebody’s afraid of approaching social influencers. So instead of actually approaching them, you have devised time-consuming plans to “get their attention”. I’ve heard this “advice” before and it usually comes from the influencers themselves. Note: influencers are motivated by the fact that their email inbox is overwhelming, so they try to get you to sit around and hope that they’ll notice your insightful blog comments. Most of these time-consuming strategies can be replaced by a few targeted and honed emails/tweets.

    Proof that you’re afraid:
    A commentor on this post said: “What I’ve noticed is that the social media influencers that I have reached out to are usually pretty quick to respond and offer help or feedback”
    You (Tom) respond: “I totally agree. As long as you don’t approach them expecting things and if you respect that they’re busy, they can be very helpful.”

    ^ When you’re advocating other people’s busy-ness, you know you’re afraid. He was pointing out what I’ve noticed and what I’ve noticed is that a lot of busy influencers are happy to reply to my communications, as long as my communications aren’t stupid.

    • Oh sh*t. I just read that you teach a class at SFSU. Now I just feel bad for you :(

      I TAed a class there once: Junior-level college students writing essays at a junior-high level. Eek.

    • Whitney. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. Yes an email can be very effective, which is how I was able to get Marcus Sheridan, Pamela Slim, Chris Garrett, Denise Wakeman and others to speak at my telesummit. And yes, I got turned down by others. In the case of Peter Shankman I didn’t want anything from him specifically, I just wanted a great blog post that got the attention that (I felt) it deserved. And yes, the Tweets and Facebook mentions are what got his attention so this is helping fill in that particular story.

      I’m not the most type A person out there, so I’m not afraid to admit that I am nervous about approaching some influencers. More power to you if you’re not. My goal is to show that there are a lot of ways to get on the radar even if you’re not direct, even if you don’t use Twitter, and if you don’t have a reason to (or want to) email.

      Thanks for the comment

      • I’m not type A either. But the strategies you suggested are so time-consuming all I can think of is: anyone who follows this advice is just afraid of getting anything done.

        I don’t think it’s wise to teach people to be indirect. I’ve known people who call themselves clever things like “afraid of confrontation” (which is the same as “afraid of being direct”) and they were absolutely miserable…more miserable and unfulfilled than any other group of people I’ve ever known.

  21. this is important in the medical field because we get such poor social media interaction. people do not trust a dentist anyway – so getting the correct “in” to becoming the authority is critical.
    I would love to read more about the path to social media Strategic Relationships in the medical world.

    • Jonathan. I think several would apply in that field in fairly straightforward ways. One would be to guest blog or get an article included in industry-specific blogs, websites, newsletters or even magazines. Another would be to cover an important webinar, research study, conference or speaking event and write up the “so-what’s” for the dentists. Just a couple of ideas.

  22. The networking v. stalking line is a very fine one. And also one of my biggest fears on the Internet.

    I seem to always second guess myself. I often have thoughts like, “Bah, I just commented on their blog yesterday. If I @mention them on Twitter right now, are they going to think I’m a creeper?” I love the content they’re producing, but I don’t want to be put on some kind of blacklist either.

    Generally, I end up trying to picture myself in the reverse situation: “Would this be creepy to you, Mandy?” If the answer is anything less certain than “No,” I’ll usually bail on reaching out.

    • Yes, if they seem to ignore you or if you start to feel uncomfortable, back off on that particular person. Add value in other ways. I think in most of the ways you’re actually helping them do something so your presence is appreciated. Making their LinkedIn group more engaging, leaving great comments, writing powerful posts about a keynote, actually doing something with their training. These kinds of things are not too high on the stalking scale and can win you points.

  23. This is such a great list of tips Tom :-)

    Thank you for that.

    I would like to add too that when you’ve got influential people in your sites, don’t just look for the business related stuff, but also the stuff they share that makes them human beings. I’ve networked with a handful of influential people on the premise of shared musical interests.

    So many people are starry eyed when they look at an influential person that they forget about the other elements that make them human. But connecting on real human interests like movies, books, television, or music are sort of a “back door” into getting on their radar.

    • Tommy. Excellent point. Yes, I’ve seen some people do that really well. I’m better at that at a cocktail party than online with people I don’t know well, so that’s probably why it’s not on my list. I think it’s a valuable addition for people to consider though! Thanks for adding it.

      • No problem :-)

        The in person networking aspect is also really important too, and you covered it with the events, but could be something that warrants it’s own post too.

        Personally, I’m terrible at in person networking, I’ve found I’m really shy at bigger events. What would recommend for that?

        • I can talk about a wide variety of topics so that helps at mixers, parties, etc. but I’m not a master networker. Other than my conference-covering strategies above, I’m sure I sub-optimize my conference time. I usually find or pick a handful of people and get to know them better. I get drained trying to chase or track down too many people.

          That said, I did do some opportunistic video interviews at Blogworld LA. Only one saw the light of day in the end.

          We’ll have to find an in-person networking expert to write up this post idea. Any volunteers?

  24. I can speak from personal experience that if you do just one of these things (connect on Twitter, share a post, point out a glitch) that you will be leaps and bounds ahead of those who don’t do those things. As the last poster said, it is so important to remember that “stars” are human too. Most of them appreciate any and all the help they can get.

  25. Splendid…absolutely splendid! Just what i needed. To tell the truth i’ve got butterflies in my stomach about a new post(which i absolutely think would be a gamechanger) but this clears it up…i’ve got to take to the people like you said Tom. God bless

  26. Splendid…absolutely splendid! Just what i needed. To tell the truth i’ve got butterflies in my stomach about a new post(which i absolutely think would be a gamechanger) but this clears it up…i’ve got to take to the people like you said Tom. God bless……and did Brian Clark give copyblogger a makeover. Hope to get use to it ‘cos i see text overlapping the border.

    • George. Go out there and do something great! Can’t wait to hear about it. I’m not sure about the formatting issue – maybe in some browsers it shows up with some problems? It looks fine on the three that I use so maybe see what it looks link in a different browser or see if yours needs an upgrade perhaps?

  27. This was a great post! Been stuck on a bit of a plateau lately and this was just what the doctor ordered! Thanks!

  28. Great post…I am always afraid of crossing that stalking line….and I never know how long is too long to jump in there with new connections….

    • Britt. Sometimes it helps to have something constructive or a win-win in mind. In other words, stalking just to be better friends might seem awkward. Engaging them so you could grease the skids for an interview or a guest post (and then asking) should feel less strange. Of course you risk rejection but lay your groundwork so you give yourself the highest chance of success. Good luck!

  29. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read about networking, Tom! And I’m not just saying that to suck up! ;)

    I love finding new ways to showcase my support for people/blogs I admire (Copyblogger included, of course). Somehow, it makes me feel like I belong. I think that’s the subtle difference between networkers and advocates, at least at first! It used to scare the crap out of me to comment here — I think I waited a year before I finally worked up the guts to write something — but it got easier the more I interacted. It started with a retweet or two, and now I comment whenever I can and share much more often. Baby steps, right?

    Anyway, this was an excellent read!

    • Jill. Yes, baby steps and taking actions are key. And of course we get so much more comfortable after we do it a few times which actually prepares us for the bigger leaps. Thank you for the compliments about the post!

  30. Are you my Guardian Blogging Angel!? After a fair whack of time off, I’m planning my return to regular blogging in the very near future. These are some fantastic starting points for me to begin building relationships again. Thank you so much for your expertise.

  31. Hi Tom

    Great article. I left a note on at G+ asking if I cloud riff this great article. And I mean riff not rip ;-).
    I give credit and add a specific angle to it. Would you mind. I will also +Tom Treanor you. With links that people can read the article here and circle you on G+.

    Please let me know.

    Have fun

    Johan

  32. As always, Tom, great summary of very useful tips balanced with common sense advice about respecting influencer’s time and boundaries. Now I have a useful structure to follow in building my reach. Thanks!

  33. Fantastic post, Tom — with tons of ideas I’d never even thought about before! And I can definitely testify to the power of guest-posting in building up great connections. :-) (Welcome to the Copyblogger guest poster club, by the way!)

  34. Hi Ali. I’m glad you found it useful and coming from you that means a lot! Yes, guest posting is great for connections and is also very eye-opening. I just wrote about what I’ve learned on my most recent Right Mix Mktg blog post. Thanks for welcoming me to the club – do you know the way to the Member’s Lounge?

  35. I can’t help but look at this from the point of view of a successful person who may be absolutely overwhelmed in terms of their time commitments. (I even have rather ordinary “friends” who have no time for me, but maybe that’s just me).

    I’ve seen bloggers who don’t have time to reply to (or perhaps even read) the posts on their own blogs.
    If they read the feedback, are they even able to pay attention to all the people who post frequently, or who do other things for them? It’s something to ask ourselves.

    These successful people are likely to be discriminating, and hard to impress. They’re already probably doing a ton of reading in order to bring to their readers the very best ideas. If the goal (and there should be a primary goal) is to get them to positively mention your blog, will they be able to do so with sincerity? If not, it might be wise to be able to offer an alternative if you get into a dialog with this person, especially a win-win alternative (eg, write a post for them in which you mention your blog).

    A successful person can’t be expected to promote to his or her readers something that they don’t fully believe in, or which adds nothing new to what’s already been said. Too many people have an overinflated view of what they are offering.

    There’s surely an article elsewhere on this, but the best strategic relationships are not among identical or very different businesses, but among businesses (or blogs) that are complementary.

    “Supplicants” who haven’t thought through what they’re doing, or who don’t have something meaningful to offer the successful person probably shouldn’t waste their time. Also, I completely agree with you and others here about the need to be sincere. If you are sincere, you won’t feel that your time has been completely wasted, even if you didn’t achieve any of your goals.

    • I would agree, by the way, that some of the above was covered in the article. I just feel that it would be hard to spend too much time thinking about the successful person’s needs from a skeptical viewpoint of what we can offer.

      Also, another thing, not mentioned in the article, is the question of how high we should reach. People should probably be reaching up to the next higher success level (however that might be defined) instead of trying to befriend someone like Donald Trump, unless he’s a relative or friend of a friend.

      • Martin, definitely interesting points. I do believe successful people are busy because I think almost everyone is busy and having high demand services just exacerbates that problem. So, to your point, whatever you do has to stand out, be unique, be creative or add a ton of value. In that case, they’re happy to share, promote or accept your request (assuming they notice).

        I think the danger in some of the comments here is generalizing across these 14 very different topics. They all work differently. So in that sense, on your last point, I think you’re right in some cases and not in others. For example. If you’re requesting an interview for your blog, you may want not want to ask Trump but you may ask a more hungry, up-and-coming guru in that space. Agreed. Also for blog commenting or being the best fan, this works when they’re on the way up (and need more support), not when they’ve peaked and are running based on past momentum.

        But for others, you want to get the biggest bang for your effort. For example for the keynote example – you want the biggest names and the most dynamic and compelling speaker that you can find. That gets the interest and buzz. Peter Shankman and also the Chris Brogran/Guy Kawasaki write up were all about that. I happened to think the presentations were compelling, packed with information and also these are big name people (which helps). Same for becoming a customer. You want the highest level of expert that you can find, balanced against level of access, and the money you have to plop down.

        Each strategy is nuanced but your points are well-taken. Thank you for the great comments!

    • Martin, that’s quite the perspective.

      Well thought out and shared.

      A couple things, if I may:

      1. I’m curious, does all this analysis go into most of your real-life person to person relationships?

      2. To you, are “successful people” any different from “normal people”, as far as relationships go? Do they still respond to things normal people respond to? Love, care, support, nurturing, connection, appreciation, etc.?

      • It all depends on the person.

        I’ve met some really successful people that are extremely down to earth and are willing to impart their knowledge, and successful people who won’t give you the time of day if you don’t have some level of success yourself.

        A lot of successful people got their through strategic networking, much the same way we’re talking about here, but lost sight of it somewhere along the way and don’t want to bother themselves with the “little guy” simply because it doesn’t benefit them in any way.

        I was just reading on Mitch Joel’s blog that there are very few “ideas” he’s heard from other’s that are truly inspired, which I imagine if you haven’t made your own success yet, would be really hard to “impress” him.

        But if there’s one thing I’ve found that’s universal, all successful people appreciate two things, a person on a mission, and the amount of hustle it takes to make that mission completed.

        But that may be a whole ‘nother topic for discussion.

        • Ah, Tommy! Count on you to shed some light :)

          Yeah, I agree there’s all kinds, and it’s cool that you’re sharing your experience.

          It prompts the question: is “whether or not someone deigns to impart their knowledge” a measure of anything?

          Could there be a million verbal + non-verbal cues that persuade them to share or not share?

          And it gets even deeper because “successful” from what I can tell is a very subjective, personal thing.

          Pattern recognition and centuries of history tells me that yes, successful people do appreciate those things. They also seem to enjoy the ability to summon high levels of health, wealth, and love though :P

          Then we can always start looking at spiritual masters or ‘sufferers’ like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, or even ascetics like Buddha and Lao Zi.

          Hmm…

          Great article, great community, great blog, great discussion :) Thanks for engaging, man :)

      • Hi Jason F.,
        I appreciate your comment.
        While I don’t want to make this about myself (which wouldn’t contribute to the discussion anyway), I can understand your questions. After re-reading my post, I see that it does make a lot of assumptions about successful people, which will no doubt be erroneous in many cases. I guess I was taking a skeptical approach, but naturally we must take into account each person’s individual personality.
        Generally speaking, I think a successful person will be more discriminating and have less time available than the average “Joe” (or “Jane”). That said, I believe studies have shown that successful people tend to be more relationship-oriented than average. This factor helps contribute to their success–a reminder that we all need other people, which is a main point of this article.
        This means there’s a good chance that, if you’re the type, you may be able to dazzle a successful people with your personality, then perhaps even fly there and go out for drinks with him or her. That didn’t enter my thought process as I wrote that up, for reasons you may be able to guess.
        Is this the general direction that you were going in? In any case, I hope it answered your questions.
        If a more socially-oriented approach better suits your own personality, I say go for it, and use your strongest traits to the max!
        I’m sure Tom would agree that all of these approaches must include both a social and business component. Thanks for pointing that out.
        Marty

        • Thanks so much for engaging, Martin.

          You definitely broadened the perspective here, and I’m glad you feel ‘successful people’ respond to the enduring, timeless qualities that have affected humanity for centuries :)

          I like how you brought up social and business. A lot of blogs on the net discuss the push/pull or fight between social and business, but I’ve always seen them as going hand-in-hand, helping each other. :)

          P.S. Again, fantastic thread here, Tom.

  36. I know this is true, but how do you do this with limited time. My blog is targeted toward mothers who want to be fashionable and keep up with the latest but who limited time. This was the perfect target for me because I have limited time. With my schedule, I find time for my blog and sometimes twitter, but in all other areas my social interaction is wavering. I get tons of invitation by other groups and bloggers but I don’t seem to have time to interact like I know I need to. Still I want to make my blog a success.

    Is there an abridged version? A top three things I can do because I really don’t think I can fit that much into my schedule.

    • Monica,

      Some of these strategies are dedicated to getting a lot of impact from high leverage opportunities versus just Tweeting and Facebooking in a low impact way over a long period of time. For the abridged version I would find 2-3 successful bloggers, speakers, writers or sitest that address your target market.

      Learn more about them by following them on Twitter, Liking their page on Facebook and joining groups they may be part of in LinkedIn.

      Find ways to engage that fit your personality and the opportunities that present themselves. Do they teach a course? Are they speaking online or in person near where you live? Do they accept guest bloggers? Would you consider interviewing them? I’m assuming your goal would be to get exposure for you blog that they may be able to help you get via one of these strategies.

      It sounds harder in theory but is something you can try out fairly easily. I hope this helps!

  37. Archan Mehta :

    Thanks for contributing such a great post. What a response you have received from all quarters. However, I do think that sometimes networking is over-rated. There is something to be said about the solitary genius of the creative. This person is not a social climber, but just wants to make a contribution through art. This person may not want to stand out in a crowd or attend socials or parties, and yet may be operating from a deeper sense of self. It seems our society values the extrovert personality and makes a song and dance about the loudest talker. The voice of silence is a godsend in a world drowning in hysterical voices and mumbo jumbo, nonstop social networking. It is okay just to be your own person and do your work quietly. Facebook can wait. The loner is capable of enjoying time in splendid isolation doing the kind of work that matters, but which society may not always value or applaud. A true writer does not write to please other people. He or she writes to express the creative impulse. That is all. Cheers.

    • Archan, I hear you. This post assumes that people want to speed up the exposure of their blogs/websites – often for business purposes. I completely respect the artist or author that works to satisfy themselves and/or a core audience. Even in the worlds of art, writing and music I’m sure we can find many examples of obscure but brilliant artists whose popularity was accelerated by association with already established artists. Like an opening act for a touring band, or a recommendation from an artist to a gallery to feature a less well-known artist. I think this is quite natural and some people choose not to let it be accidental but to be more proactive about seeking the attention. At the end of the day, if the product is not good, more attention won’t be able to overcome that.

  38. Hi Tom,
    This article came just at the right time for me, as I am trying to develop my company’s online presence. I’ve started #1 and 2, but the rest are really great ideas as to how I can go a little further – becoming their community manager or interviewing them are ideas that could really work well with the travel industry.
    Thanks for the tips :)

    • Hannah,
      Absolutely, those would be great ones for the travel industry. Also, guest blogging could be very effective for you.
      I’m glad you found it helpful!

  39. Tom, the riffing and sharing definitely worked! I don’t recall the whole “circle” of events, but between Guy and Johan, I have spent a lot of time reading, today, and I wound up here.

    I’m not sure what I can add that is of real value, anything that may have been missed has been well covered in the comments.

    I can say that these “best practices” work! I am no internet star – heck, I didn’t even exist on the internet two years ago. BUT, I have had a few semi-successful business adventures, so when I began my internet journey, I used ideas that had worked for me before. Things like calling a contractor I had never met, complimenting his buildings, and inviting him to coffee on one of my sites for an introduction, almost always got me another house to build and helped me make new friends.

    I think that the reason these principals work is based in the simple psychology that people like to feel appreciated.

    I am quite astonished at the way I have been accepted in the net community, and can only hope that the things I do are helping to prove what a fantastic thing it is.

    I’ll be saving this post for reference and pointing all my clients and interested friends to it.

    • Hey Bret,

      Yes, it does work and the Johan “riff” (see the link way above in the comments) was a great example of how quickly these things can work. My Shankman post was another example that blew up pretty quickly. Thanks for the examples you leave related to your industry!

  40. I’ve experimented just a little bit with a similar approach (shared by Clay Collins) and noticed that it wasn’t for me. I found it disturbing to bring an element of hidden agendas into my relationships. As in “I will help you in all kinds of ways and I want nothing in return (except, I really want to manipulate you into supporting me in the end).

    Even if it’s someone whose work you genuinely admire, the hook is still there. How that feels and what it means depends entirely on what kind of a person you are. For some it doesn’t make any difference and that’s great. For some (like myself) it’s like a little worm in the heart and that can in some cases be too high a price to pay for visibility.

    A third way is perhaps just to expand our natural generosity wherever we are, however we feel inspired, without necessarily making it a “strategy”. That by itself may naturally lead to more connections and greater visiblity although certainly in a less controlled and probably slower pace.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Halina, I love what you said about giving with a hidden agenda, and I think you’ve raised a really valid point.

      In my experience, when people put “giving” and “strategy” in the same sentence, it tends to raise some warning bells, but I think in the end, it doesn’t need to.

      Charities deal with this controversy from time to time.

      We’re all here on Earth to do better for ourselves and our relations, and the people who do the best for themselves help those around them the most.

      For example, we’re both reading and chatting on CopyBlogger, a fantastic resource.

      But what helps more, a CopyBlogger with limited resources who has no strategy of marketing or connecting with others, or a CopyBlogger that is soaring and excelling and profiting and growing?

      I’m thrilled they have any strategy at all, and I’m thrilled they’re growing, and if part of that ‘strategy’ involves being really damn nice and giving to people, I applaud it. :)

      I think it comes down to most people being confused on what “giving” actually is and what “strategy” is. In fact, Deeone Higgs and I just had a discussion about this on my post: http://ryzeonline.com/are-you-giving-success-or-are-you-giving-failure

      Anyway, I’m so glad you brought this up, I think it’s a key topic for many.

      • Thank you! and I agree! it’s really about where what we do comes from. It has taken me a long while (and it continues to be a process) to find my own blend, my own way of creating a “strategy” that is authentic to me. I love reaching out to people, I love connecting, I love giving and receiving. What I have seen in my life, times and times again, is that when I do it from a genuine place things grow and expand (and sometimes they don’t and it’s still a joy). When I get hooked on expected results, things kind of go dead.

        This is how it works for some of us – and for others it works differently. Fortunately, we’re different and I appreciate the way we bring different perspectives in and challenge each other in this world.

        Last but not least, I find Copyblogger and several other blogs so inspiring – yours too! :-)

        • Awesome Halina, I know we brought some very interesting ideas to the discussion (and you know Tom’s been following along :P)

          “I love reaching out to people, I love connecting, I love giving and receiving.”
          I love people writing about what they love :P

          “Fortunately, we’re different and I appreciate the way we bring different perspectives”
          I definitely agree :)

          And thanks for complimenting my blog, I’m glad it inspires, inspiring & uplifting others to rock, is what I’m all about.

    • Halina, I think we always have to do that gut-check and make sure what we’re doing is making our lives, not just our businesses, better. For me, professional networking has introduced me to tons and tons of lovely new people.

      Thanks for your perspective, Jason!

      • My pleasure, Sonia, and thanks for the acknowledgement :)

        This has been a really jumpin’ discussions, and everyone brought a lot to the table.

        P.S. I have a “breath of fresh air” to offer CB shortly :) Stay tuned…

      • I agree Sonia! I think my point is for us to keep on seeing networking as creating real connection with real people. So much more than just “steps on our own ladder”…

        All the best -

    • Hi Halina,

      Thanks for the comment. I definitely appreciate your input but I wouldn’t dismiss the whole thing out of hand. I would reconsider at least some set of them for just about anyone. They’re not all about “espionage” per se. Guest posting, interviewing someone for your blog, taking someone’s course and doing well with it, offering good business advice, or writing up a talk that you watched and enjoyed are very un-invasive. Whether it’s involving and “influencer” or a peer, these kind of things can be appreciated. You shouldn’t expect anything in return but if you do these things well you may get some help in return.

      • Tom, I agree completely and I’m sorry if it came out as dismissing your inspiration. Personally, I love connecting, and I enjoy (and feel inspired to doing more of) the things you suggest, by all means! We’re in this world for each other and there is so much joy and creativity in giving and receiving!

        • Hi Halina – And I probably took it too much the other way…. Thank you for following up and I’m happy to have connected with you and inspired you to try something new!

  41. Great tips especially for new bloggers! Take your time build it up be active and people will come. I admit the one social media I can’t figure out is the new StumbledUpon. The old one I was able to connect with people the new version I having a hard time with it.

    • Dee. I’ll admit StumbleUpon is not a place where I’ve invested the time to build up a presence but maybe someone else can help us out. Thank you for your comment!

  42. Hey Tom,
    These are definitely great tips. I recently began doing some of these things on my own a few weeks ago and the responses have been good thus far. First, a blogger that I admire that got over 4,000 responses to a post took the time to look at my blog and sent me an email. I was soooooo honored. In another instance, a humor blogger asked me to guest post on their blog in May, which was completely unexpected, and it all came from networking with people that I admired. I definitely plan to incorporate some of your recomendations moving forward so I can keep up the momentum.

  43. I must admit this article is very DOPE!!! One would think these guidelines were common sense, but there are many I never thought of. I have favorite people I follow and listen to often, this article just helped me to design a better networking plan. Thanks I will be sharing.

  44. Hi Tom

    I discovered this through a post on LinkedIn and what a valuable find. You’ve put together exactly what I’ve been looking for in terms of connecting through blogs – have just signed up to yours by the way. Thanks for your generosity in shared such valuable tips. Look forward to reading more of work and when I have something to offer in contributing back. Many thanks
    Leonie