The best things that have come out of my blogging, by far, are the friends I’ve made. The relationships I’ve cultivated through blogging seep enhance my offline life: Allie and I chat about our weekends every single Monday. I text Kristin whenever something in the news starts to give me anxiety. I ask Kam for advice when I’m about to embark on a new adventure. I email Amy when I need to vent about business. And you’d better bet that if any of us schedule a video chat to get some work done together, we’d better pencil in an extra hour for going totally and amazingly off topic.
I value my friends because they are awesome and they are genuinely my people. In addition the the inherent value of building friendships, however, there are so many awesome to cultivating online friendships if you are looking to BUILD your online platform.
Here are some ways having friends online helps you: Your friends might ask you to become affiliates for their products so you can share in their success. They might become affiliates for your products, and they’ll talk about them because they love you and the stuff you do anyway. They might share your posts with their followers or help promote you on social media. Friends might swap ad space or guest posts with you. They may lend an ear when you need to bounce ideas off of someone. They’ll team up with you so you can join forces to create something more amazing than you could have ever done on your own, like Kam and Amy do with 30 Days of Lists (along with, surprise, more of our friends as #30Lists ambassadors!). With all of these benefits to having a community of friends, it’s no wonder that the importance of having a network of support came up in every guest interview in the BUILD ecourse!
So how do you do it? In a sea of people who are seemingly close-knit and already broken into high school-esque cliques, how in the heck to you make online friends and BUILD an online social network? It’s not as tricky as you might think. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
1. Talk to people I know that seems obvious, but it really is where you have to start. Leave meaningful comments on blogs. Reply to tweets. Join in on conversations in online forums. Send an e-mail through a contact form. Respond to people who comment to you. This gets a conversation going and puts your name out there. Talking online is an art from, and you have to practice in order to master online conversational skills that will allow you to take your talk to the next level.
2. Find the common threads You’re more likely to hit it off with another blogger if you have something in common. That doesn’t mean that everything you write about has to be the same, but you need some crossover. Something to talk about… just like with in-person friends! Bonus: if you write about some of the same things, chances are your new friend has some readers who will love reading what you have to say on the topic too.
3. Support the online community. Many of my online friendships have begun by supporting that friend–before I knew her personally–in some way. There are lots of ways to do this: sponsor a blog, pitch a guest post, share others’ work on social media (make sure to tag your friend!), participate in workshops, or buy products from other bloggers. People need your support, and bloggers will take notice if you are advocating for their products and services or are spreading the word about what they do. Even better, your new friend might pay it forward by helping to spread the word about the things you do, too!
4. Get personal. It’s hard to get to know someone to build a friendship if you are all business all of the time. You have to get to know each other, and you do that by chit chat. My favorite way to get personal in e-mail is to keep two conversations going at once: the main business conversation (e.g., details on guest post deadlines, inquiries about sponsorship packages, or working through outlines for workshop collaborations) and a more personal conversation (e.g., what you think of that new scrapbooking product release, how much you loved that project she posted recently, or inquiries about how his family is doing). I don’t do this schemingly: it’s way more fun to have side conversations. But it’s also a way to bond with each other.
5. Give it time You probably wouldn’t meet a new friend in a coffee shop today and ask them to help you move tomorrow. Just like friendships in the physical world, cultivating friendships in the online world takes time. Make sure you’re making building the relationship a priority, NOT just trying to think of how befriending the person could benefit you. It’s also important to remember that everyone you work with doesn’t have to become your new best friend. You’re not going to invite everyone you meet at the water cooler out for a drink, and you probably won’t have lengthy daily Twitter conversations with every blogger you sponsor. You’ll cultivate some close friendships and make some working acquaintances, but both types of relationships are awesome and fill up your metaphorical rolodex.
Now you know how to get started on building a network of online friends. Go forth and make some blogging friends!
How have you grown blogging relationships?
Megan can be found at The Nerd Nest, where she blogs about (and sometimes with) her family of crafty nerds! This post was inspired by the BUILD ecourse, an in-depth workshop from Amy of Lemon and Raspberry that helps you to BUILD your online platform. When she’s not BUILDing a network of online friends, she’s going on nerdy adventures with her family, spending time filling up Project Life albums, reading big stacks of books, and making stuff. To learn more about her network building tips, watch her #1 tip for guest posting.