I’ve fretted over doing this series all weekend. Not because I’m letting out my secret-sauce secrets, rather because I think that many of you will walk away and think … uh, ya, I knew that a long time ago. So, to quote Andy Sernovitz in one of my favorite presentation quotes, please, “lower your expectations”
Those of you who are here for career-related information, and couldn’t care less about blogging, realize that I’m a huge fan of blogging for personal branding. I think that most people should have a blog and work hard to use the blog as a tool to quantify who we are – our breadth and depth. So hang in there this week as I share some things that have helped in the last year with JibberJobber, which can also help with your own personal brand!
Today’s secret is all about relationships. Sorry to go old-school on you, but there is no way around it. There is no voodoo, no Harry Potter magic, no wishful thinking. It’s old-fashioned relationship stuff.
I have a friend who said recently “why ask others to promote your blog, digg, stumble, blog about it, etc? If you focus on the content then the traffic you want will come!” I agree that content is huge, and key to building a community of readers and participants over time, but I do think that you need to market your blog. The low hanging fruit in blog marketing is registering in Technorati and other places like that. I paid $1.99 for a service that would register the JibberJobber blog to over 30 blog engine things. I say this is low-hanging fruit because it’s easy (you just fill out a form), it’s fast, and you only have to do it once. But the value is also low — everyone can do it, and I can’t think of any benefit that I got from it. Maybe you’ve had different experiences with this, but for me it was something to do once and then not revisit.
When I started last year I knew no one in the employment/career space. I actually didn’t know much about this space, thinking all coaches operated in the same way (no way), and all recruiters operated with the same MO (no way). I would look for bloggers in the employment space and try and get on their radar. I wanted them to know who I was!
You have to remember, I was a nobody. JibberJobber could have been a “fly-by-night” operation for all they knew, and most important, no one knew me! The only thing I could do is spend time trying to show that I was authentic, and here to stay. Here’s what what I did:
- Find a blog that is in my space.
- Find a recent post that I could contribute to… intelligently! If I can only say “Right On! Your blog rocks!” then I would NOT leave this comment and I would move on.
- Leave the comment, and check it for tone, message, etc. My signature back then was simply “Jason Alba.”
Some additional thoughts:
- I would not leave controversial, contradictory or mean comments. I respected the fact that this was their blog, they had their own readership, and I wanted to help them look good. Seems like common sense but I’ve seen others try this tactic and counter every single post they leave comments on. Sure you can be controversial but I think it’s far more effective to be controversial in your blog rather than in a comment on someone else’s blog.
- I would bookmark the blog in a special bookmark folder. Firefox allows me to open all my bookmarked sites in separate folders, so when I start out my day I could just open all the blogs I’m following in their own tabs. I tried to use RSS readers but I was more interested in the comments/discussion than just the first paragraph of the post (or even the entire post). So I had to see the original blog post, not a feed.
- I would follow-up every single day to see if the conversation moved forward. I didn’t want someone to follow-up on my comment, especially with a question to me, and miss the opportunity to respond.
- I would regularly explore peripheral networks where I could identify blogs I liked and did the same thing on these. Some primary networks that I identified include recruiting, resume writers, and career coaches. Peripheral networks included associations, leadership and management, branding and marketing experts,
I figured that each blog had between 10 to 100 readers (obviously some have much more), so each comment I left would put my site in front of another 10 to 100 people. This was a really interesting exercise for me as it really helped me understand the landscape of the employment space, understand what thought-leaders where thinking and reading, and helped me get “one more subscriber” to JibberJobber. While we have thousands and thousands of people who have subscribed over the last year, I still consider each and every subscriber as a victory, a hard-won customer. You can learn more about this tactic from Paul Allen’s post The long term cumulative impact of guerrilla marketing.
In addition to leaving comments on people’s blogs, I would:
- Link back to blog posts as much as I could. I don’t do it as much now just because it takes a lot of time, but linking back to another blog post (it is best to do it in this order: If possible, a specific blog post. If that doesn’t work out then a blog. If that doesn’t work out then a website, but this is more for Google page rank than getting on someone’s radar) is key. And, in the spirit of relationship building, it’s a great way to give (bloggers love it when you link back to them).
- Join various e-mail groups. I blogged about this here, and still regularly contribute. You should know what lists you should be on (there’s got to be at least one that is right for you!)
All of these activities helped me start a relationship with someone. The key, and perhaps the hard part, is to continue and nurture the relationship. The reason this is key is because getting on their radar doesn’t do much for your blog or business or brand. But once they blog about you, link back to you, etc. then they endorse who you are to their readers, and you expand your audience. Endorsing you once is cool. Doing it regularly, over time, is the bomb. It’s not easy, and many times you have to take the initiative and nurture a lot. But it is worth it, big time.
I use JibberJobber to manage blogger relationships. I tag the person as blogger which allows me to pull out my blogger contacts and see when I last communicated with them, what action items I have pending, or send out an e-mail announcing something to all these special contacts. You can see a 1 minute 33 second video on tagging here (this is a free feature), and a 2 minute video on how to get the best of tagging here (this is a premium feature).
Do you proactively manage relationships like this? How?
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