Networking can be tough…
… but it doesn’t have to be.
In this INCREDIBLE guest post, Tony Rulli from LandingStanding.com reveals his networking secrets which will:
- Grow your traffic faster
- Build long-lasting relationships with top bloggers
- Shorten your learning curve (and help you avoid painful “newbie” mistakes)
As you’ll soon see, Tony does something brilliant in this post. See if you can spot it… and let us know in the comments!
You’ve done it…
You’ve escaped the cubicle.
Quit your job.
And finally hit the road.
Now you’re jet-setting the world – and sharing your adventures on your travel blog.
It’s a great life…
No more meetings…
No more phone calls from irrational colleagues and customers who always assume it’s your fault…
And no more networking…
Networking is a life skill. A skill that proves invaluable to the traveler. Not only will it greatly improve your travel experience, but is one of the quickest ways to grow traffic to your site.
If people know you personally, they will be much more enthusiastic about sharing your articles and interacting with you through your site and social media.
However, there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to network (which delivers superior results).
Before we look at how, let’s first understand why.
Why Networking Is Important (A Personal Story)
I have been writing at LandingStanding.com for almost 2 years.
My wife and I started the site a full year before we left for our year-long trip around the world so we could get used to the work involved in creating multiple articles per week.
The site was also a great way to hold us accountable. It helped us stick to our plan of leaving our jobs and selling (nearly) everything.
For most of that year, we did nothing to promote the site since my job didn’t even know about our plans and I wanted to keep it that way.
Then – right before we left on our trip – we started networking.
We became active on Twitter and began commenting on our favorite blogs. We noticed there were a lot of travel bloggers from our hometown of Boston and that one of our favorites, AdventurousKate, was in the area for the holidays.
We commented a few times on her site, retweeted some of her articles, then contacted her to see if we could buy her a beer or coffee and chat for a few minutes.
Surprisingly, (to us at the time) she responded that she’d love to. What was supposed to be a short coffee break turned into a 2 hour discussion about life, travel blogging, and adventures on the road.
Since that first meeting with Kate, we have followed a few fundamental techniques to grow our network so that we now not only have trusted advisors for our site, but many new dear friends.
These fundamental techniques can be broken down into 2 general categories: Physical and Digital.
Let’s now take a look at some of the different ways you can start to grow your own network.
The Power Of In-Person Meetings
Let’s go back to that first in-person meeting with Kate.
What did it teach us about networking with other travel bloggers?
#1. They tend to appreciate their audience.
Don’t be intimidated. Successful travel bloggers understand the entire reason they can travel is because of the power of their community. They want to hear from you and interact on their site.
#2. If you make it easy, they are more than willing to meet with you.
Being offered a free drink from a fan is always flattering. The key is finding out when you are both in the same city and asking for only 15 minutes or half hour of their time. That way, they don’t feel locked in to a huge commitment.
#3. They are real people (like you!).
Treat them with respect, show you appreciate their work, and don’t expect more than 15 minutes of chatting over coffee.
If your personalities mesh well together, they will have no problem staying longer.
#4. Come to the meeting prepared.
Make sure to read the blogger’s “About” page and their last few articles. Scan their Twitter feed and Facebook page to see what they are talking about online.
Most importantly, have some questions you want answered. Are you looking for travel advice about a specific location, tips on dealing with media, or looking to meet other travel bloggers? You wanted the meeting, so take the lead. Plus, since we all love getting our ego stroked, asking the blogger interesting questions about themselves will tend to make them like you.
That’s networking 101.
After we gained confidence from our meeting with Kate, we started reaching out to anyone we could find once we hit the road.
We met Emily In Chile in Santiago after we saw one of her tweets about her favorite restaurant in the city. We got introduced to Mike, from Art Of Backpacking, Steph, from Twenty-Something Travel, and Bethany and Ted, from Two Oregonians, in Buenos Aires because of a Facebook group conversation.
And I can’t forget to mention our incredible “tour” through Paris by Expat Edna who seems to meet with every traveler that passes through that city.
Not only have all of these people become mentors to us, they also have become wonderful friends (another benefit of networking).
And because we have shared in-person experiences together, they have been more likely to introduce us to new opportunities, share our articles, and mention us to others.
Networking At Travel Blogging Conferences & Meetups
In the last few years, travel blogging conferences and meet-ups have become huge.
There is Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX), Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU), and a host of semi-regular local events like Travel Massive and Meet, Plan, Go. World Travel Market (WTM) is also a great conference to attend as it is not just a magnet for bloggers, but for everyone within the travel industry.
Between semi-regular local events and the annual conferences, you should be able to find something within a short drive or flight from your home base.
Conferences provide tremendous resources such as informational seminars, in-person meetings with businesses in the travel industry (true professional networking) and even after-conference trips.
But most importantly, they let you connect with a huge amount of travel bloggers typically spread across the globe.
So how can you guarantee yourself some successful networking at a travel blogger conference? By doing the following five things:
#1. Keep moving.
If you want to take a break from shaking hands and meeting new people because you have real work to do, that’s fine. But you shouldn’t just find yourself sitting quietly in a chair or back in your room watching TV. There is bound to be someone you haven’t talked to yet, so go say hello.
#2. Don’t be shy.
Sometimes people are idle at conferences out of laziness, but sometimes it is because they are shy or introverted (and being an introvert really is OK). As hard as it can be, fight that urge to hide out for the few days you are at the conference.
Try talking about shared interests (hint: you both like travel, right?). Here are three questions you can use on any travel blogger at a conference to get an interesting conversation started: 1) What is your blog? 2) What is the one place you recommend everyone visit and why?
#3. Where is the after party?
Be “wedding reception” fun, not “frat party” fun. The opposite problem of standing in a corner or hiding out in your room is becoming “that guy.” You know the one (he’ll end the night with his shirt off peeing on the plants in the hotel lobby).
Have fun, let loose, but you want people to remember you for the right reasons.
#4. Participate in the conversation.
Be curious about the lives of others and they, in turn, will find you incredibly fascinating. Did someone mention their recent trip to Switzerland? Ask them what their favorite part was. Mention you would love to go. Ask if you could email them if you think of any more questions. Plant the seeds at the conference that you will be following up afterwards… and then do it.
#5. Get contact info and follow up after the conference.
Within a week after the conference, shoot them a quick email about how much you enjoyed meeting them. This will help “cement” these new relationships.
Pro tip: write down a note or two about your conversation on the back of their business card and mention it in your email (you did save their card, right?).
And if you don’t have the money to travel to one of the major conferences, you can almost always find a travel meet-up in your area.These are much smaller, but still a great way to meet people passionate about travel.
Social Media Networking – The Right Way
Many newbies mistakenly believe all they need are a few impactful tweets to start generating some buzz.
You could be the next Hemingway, but with no audience to read and share your interesting thoughts, your message will never get out.
So what to do?
You need to gain access to other people’s loyal readers and leverage their powerful brand. The best way to do this is by taking advantage of digital networking:
#1. Start following influencers in the travel blogging community.
You know who they are. You are probably already reading their site and commenting on their articles. Now it’s time to join in on the conversation online.
#2. Share your favorite articles of others and add to the discussion.
Whether you read a great new article or just discovered one in their archives, by sharing the articles of others online, you will get their attention. Be sure to not just retweet or share without a comment. Add something to the conversation so that you are seen as directly engaging with that blogger’s message.
#3. Respond to interesting tweets and Facebook posts.
You’re in luck. Travel bloggers are not trying to hide. They want to build a community just as much as you do. Ask them questions, answer their questions, and join in on their conversations.
This will start to gain you retweets and spread your brand beyond your own Twitter followers. If you’re stuck trying to figure out a good first tweet to your favorite blogger, try: “I’m planning on being in X next month and saw you loved Y. Any other great local places I should try?”
#4. Become active in the community.
You can find Facebook groups dedicated to travel blogging and blogging in general. These are great places to learn what is the leading issue within the community and what opportunities might exist. Twitter chats are a great way to meet other new travel bloggers, while engaging directly with some of the bigger blogs as well.
There are numerous ones to try every week (#TTOT, #ExpChat, #EatTheWorld, #TNI), so dive in and try to be as funny and insightful as you can. You WILL get noticed.
#5. Don’t ignore the other newbie bloggers.
Just because more established bloggers have massive audiences, doesn’t mean they are the only people you should try to network with.
New travelers and bloggers are often even more enthusiastic about sharing other people’s work. You will make some great friends this way too, as you learn and grow together. This is a great way to build a solid foundation for your long-term network.
Now, you may think you don’t have time to mess around with social media.
But guess what?
You only need to spend 30 minutes to 1 hour per day on social media to begin seeing the benefit. So for the next month, try each day to share a few articles from other bloggers, tweet interesting questions at influencers, and engage with the online community.
Heck, you could start by helping Adam (and me) out by sharing this article .
The Ultimate Guide to Networking for Travel Bloggers ROCKS! Tweet This, Please!
Being Active On Other Blogs Counts As Networking
What counts as being active on another blog?
#1. Frequently commenting on posts.
Sign up to receive new articles from your ten favorite blogs by email. This way you can be one of the first to see a new post and one of the first to comment.
This will be seen by many other people as they scroll down to leave their own comment and they will associate you with that topic.
#2. Provide detailed and helpful comments.
Don’t just write “first!” or “such a helpful article for what I’m going through right now.”Add some detail! Let the author and their readers know not only that the article was helpful or interesting but WHY it was. The author will appreciate that you actually connected with their words enough to share and you will definitely be remembered.
#3. Comment on others comments.
Nothing makes a blogger feel better than seeing conversations in the comments section. If you have a really interesting answer – or really appreciated someone else’s comment – reply to them!
#4. Guest Posts
The next step beyond providing insightful comments is to actually write a guest post for someone else’s blog. Not everyone accepts guest posts, so do your research before you ask.
Guest posts are the digital equivalent of getting to speak solo on stage for 5 minutes at a conference, since you get to be the center of attention for a whole new audience.Make it count.
And beyond getting access to a new audience, you have created a real connection to another travel blogger. Now they don’t just know you as a Twitter handle, but as a person who provided real value to their site.
If you’re really crunched for time, you can always combine your social media networking with blog interactions. When you find a good article to share on Facebook or Twitter, leave a great comment on the site as well. It really doesn’t take much additional effort to drastically amplify the effect of your networking.
So this might seem like a lot of work, but for today, just focus on these 5 steps which can get you networking effectively right away:
- Find 5 articles from travel bloggers that you find interesting (this one’s a good place to start!).
- Share these articles on Twitter (be sure to mention the blogger with their Twitter handle so they know you are tweeting their stuff).
- Leave an interesting comment in the comments section of each of the 5 articles you tweeted by either sharing how the article made you reflect on one of your own experiences or the next steps you will take from the advice that the blogger gave.
- Research travel meet-ups occurring within the next 3 months near your city and sign up to attend at least one.
- Start paying attention to what other travel bloggers might live in your city or when they might be visiting. Offer to buy them a drink if they are nearby or in town.
If you start with these steps, you will not only see great results for your site, but also for you personally. You will meet and have conversations with incredibly interesting people and make some fascinating new friends.
Now let’s start networking!
About the Author: Tony left his job in finance to travel around the world for a year with his adventurous wife, Meg. They started in Santiago, Chile in January of 2012 and have since been making their way ever eastward.
They write about their adventures at LandingStanding.com and are working hard on making the nomadic lifestyle permanent. They are always looking to meet new friends and practice their networking skills, so feel free to give them a shout on Twitter.