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How to Build Your Network

Looking around the blogosphere, around the community forums and social media platforms I see one consistent; we all have a yearning to be recognised.  If you say you don’t then you’re misguided, hiding behind your sofa whispering “Please don’t find me” or you are so successfully recognised it’s gone to your head. 

It seems that engaging your audience – out there in the big wide Ether when you aren’t physically face to face with your audience is so easy to do.  I mean how hard can it be to be noticed out of the 400 million plus blogs published everyday?  So what did you actually do?  

You posted to Facebook, maybe you put out a Twitter post but you are starting to feel your efforts are in vain because NO ONE IS READING! What did you honestly expect that once you started posting everyone would just come flocking?  Well what else did you do to build your network?

“Eh erm……Network…..” Is usually the reply I get.

Network, yes that’s right – did I say a dirty word?

Nothing in this world will fall in your lap. If you want something you have to go out there and get it or at least attempt to.  Networking is a very small part of what you need to do to draw in your readers, it is also an extremely important aspect of building your online profile and presence. 

One of the key arts to growing your networks is to go out there and find them. Sounds easy, you found them then what? Once you have found the audience that you want to connect with you can invite them to join you. 

If you’re going to engage with someone then do it in a positive and meaningful way.   The biggest mistake a lot of people make is just to send random invites with no indication or message of why they have received it. 

Networking is not something you can just expect to happen it takes time and it takes energy.  There are some easy to follow steps but it takes practice to get it right, I look at these steps as way of guidance not as golden rules:

Step 1 – Understand what you want to achieve.

Understanding what you need to achieve is the first step to understanding how you go about it?  I want to live in the country and own a horse.  So what do I need to achieve? Fame, riches, a wealthy sugar daddy? No! I need to take horse riding lessons, there’s no point in having horses if I can’t ride. That is my achievement to reaching this goal.

So I want to increase my readership, what do I need to achieve? I need to network and market my blog, Not quite I need to build my readership through network and marketing.

Step 2 – Put yourself out there and make yourself accessible.

The best connections you have in life are the ones that you interact with on a regular basis.  These people that know you are the ones that will genuinely promote you without even thinking about it, so don’t forget them but you also need to let people know you are here.  

Create a fan page, open a twitter account, start creating interesting topics, join in on discussions.  The beauty of Twitter is that you can reply to topics and you do not have to be following. If you engage you are more than likely to gain a new connection.

Step 3 – Don’t assume it’s not of interest.

I write about training and development so therefore interacting with crafters and fishermen is not going to draw in huge amounts of interest, so I’m discounting you – Wrong! Yes it is important to find like minded people but I interact with many people from all walks of life, opening up my network of people and the topics that they are interested in gives me new avenues and also new inspiration. 

Step 4 - Be Confident.

Whether it’s online or face to face networking is about making the effort, feel good about yourself and what you have to offer.   Step away from the sofa and out of your comfort zone.  Having confidence to interact and introduce yourself will give you the ability to push your boundaries and develop relationships with new people.  Some people find this easier online but the same rules should be applied when building physical networks. 

STEP 5 – Value Adding.

Everything takes time but you have to also be willing to put in far more than you get out of it, especially at the beginning. As time moves on you will see it shift the other way but don’t become complacent, you still need to invest, add value, give time and continue to build those networks through connecting with people, providing quality links and sharing information.

STEP 6 – Avoid Introductory Selling.

How many times have I been approached with a “buy my book”, “download my music” – it’s not polite and it just sends out the wrong signals.  If you haven’t built your network, how are you going to come off as anything other than an opportunist? 

Use the opportunity to get to know your contacts and gather information about your networks.  Understanding that building networks is about interacting and supporting means that any information you collect and build you can use to your advantage. 

Step 7 – Don’t try to hard.

You can organically build your online network over time but there is a limit to how quickly you should try and do this.  If you try too hard and too fast you will break the connections you have created with your base networks.  Why? Because you are over occupied and for all the new possibilities you will be viewed as nothing more than a spammer. 

Building networks is a long-term commitment, a healthy and active community should become a vast resource at very little personal cost other than time and effort.  The opportunities are boundless if you know what you want to achieve, you may not have been able to get there on your own but networking becomes a key step in connecting you with a wider diverse range of people who can help you to achieve what you set out to.