Reaching out to bloggers is part of what makes social media so very different than traditional journalism. Can you imagine someone at the LA Times asking someone at the Chicago Tribune to help drive awareness to an article? Podcasters give shout outs to each other’s creations. There’s a general sense of sharing that goes along with all of these technologies. But there’s some strategy involved in this, and some thinking you have to do as a blogger, should you be seeking to further develop your presence and build on your blogging career. In working with Julien Smith on our book, Trust Agents, one of the principles we talk about is the Archimedes Principle: give me a lever long enough and I’ll move the world. Understanding leverage, especially the human kind, is vital to developing your abilities in this space.
The Distance Of Your Ask
Imagine landing at the airport in a city where you don’t know any of the residents per se. Some might do the same kind of work as you. Some might have grown up near you. They might share other similarities. But they don’t know you. Could you ask them to sleep in their guest room, and to eat dinner at their place later in the evening?
Clumps of bloggers all blog in the same neighborhoods. I’m doing posts that might be in the same family as Marshall Kirkpatrick or Brian Clark or Valeria Maltoni, but does that mean we know each other because we’re writing in the same space? (In my specific example, I’ve met and had beverages with all of those folks, but pretend I didn’t.)
How much can you ask of someone before developing the relationship? You might invite them to look at your stuff if you both write similar things. You might ask them to comment on a blog post that relates directly to them. But how much further will you go? How much further do you think you should go?
Closing the Gap
This applies to PR professionals, too, so if you stepped out to get a latte or something, come back in.
The simplest way to close gaps is to get to know people. Over the web, comment on their stuff. Promote the stuff you like. Share your perspective by blogging about their stuff. When you are suddenly a regular in that person’s orbit, they remember you. With as many folks as I get to know on the web, I still know and appreciate who comments, who blogs about my stuff, etc. I’m always aware of who seems to resonate with me.
Next steps? Get out to the events where they are. Meet them. Don’t be nervous or squirrelly. Almost every single blogger or Internet personality I’ve met (almost) are personable, friendly, human, and just as happy to meet someone who likes their stuff as you are to meet them. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a blog post or spoken to a friend at an event where I’ve heard someone talking about how stuck up some blogger is.
Keep Pouring On the Collaboration
The more ways you can be part of an ecology, interconnected with the kinds of things you write, the better your chances are to be able to extend your asks. The more helpful you are yourself, the more often people will be willing to help you when the time comes. Don’t tally. Don’t bank favors. Just be effusive with the amount of helpfulness you pour out. (Sound like anyone you know?)
Closing the gap between what you can and can’t ask people is the super secret power of the PEOPLE in social media. Folks like C.C. Chapman and Matthew Ebel and Chel Pixie and all kinds of other great people on the web get where they’re going by being insanely helpful, and then by having tight relationships with people who want them to succeed. Meet the Mitch Joels of the world and the Beth Kanters and have nice conversations by way of their blogs, your blogs, everyone’s social networks, and more.
The main point? Keep building on the relationship and then you can ask more, should the opportunity arise. And remember, it’s a lot like a bank account: the more you put in, the more you can withdraw. Just like a bank account, if you’re over-extended, you can’t take out any more.
What say you?
Photo credit, Hamed Saber