How to Network With Travel Bloggers (Without Looking Desperate)

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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!

Enter Tony…

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…

Wrong!

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)

Meg working hard on an article for LandingStanding

Meg working hard on her next article

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.

Physical Networking

The Power Of In-Person Meetings

 

Coffee Break! © by Evi Christodoulou

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.

Digital Networking    

Social Media Networking – The Right Way

Twitter feed

Say hello on social media!

Many newbies mistakenly believe all they need are a few impactful tweets to start generating some buzz.

The problem?

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

Interacting on ther people's blogs count as networking!

Other blogs are a great place to network

What counts as being active on another blog?

Simple.

#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.

Priceless.

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.

Next Steps

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:

  1. Find 5 articles from travel bloggers that you find interesting (this one’s a good place to start!).
  2. Share these articles on Twitter (be sure to mention the blogger with their Twitter handle so they know you are tweeting their stuff).
  3. 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.
  4. Research travel meet-ups occurring within the next 3 months near your city and sign up to attend at least one.
  5. 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.

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Comments

  1. Great post that combines both on and offline marketing! Business cards can help in driving traffic back to your site. A book I read years ago that has timeless tips for networking is Masters of Networking: Building Relationships for Your Pocketbook and Soul. Thank you for sharing your tips!

    • Thanks for sharing the book!

      Great point about business cards. They also immediately make any travel blogger seem more professional. I know it is bit of a joke with travel bloggers that everyone seems to have Moo cards, but having any type of business card is a big plus.

  2. This is a brilliant post typing together a few areas that are often treated as separate topics.

    I feel like I have been retweeting a lot of other people’s stuff on Twitter since I started my blog a year ago, but I am not sure if I have seen any return on this strategy as far retweets of my own tweets or as increased traffic to my own blog. I generally haven’t been commenting, just retweeting.

    Do you think that adding a thoughtful comment before my retweet would help with this, or do I need to rethink my Twitter strategy completely?

    • Hi Shanna! So glad you liked the article.

      RT’s are great, but for increased responses, definitely add your own thoughts. Try to think of it from the person you are RT’s perspective. If it is just a RT, there is little to say besides thanks. If you add a little note, you increase your chances of a response by giving them more to interact with. Once you start getting more responses, you should get more followers as well.

      In my opinion, until I can get multiple thousands of twitter followers, it is best used as a way to meet others. Then you can use your twitter discussions as a way to guest post on their site, which should be a much better driver of new traffic to the site.

      Do you schedule your tweets? We usually schedule our tweets for the next day right before bed. That way every few hours you are tweeting and maintaining a presence (and it actually is a lot less work).

      I hope this helps!

      -Tony

  3. I agree with Adam that Tony nailed it… and in a very nice way btw. Is obviously from someone who has been successful in business, and is now sharing that expertise with the blogging community that has a huge mix of folks. I came across their website a long time ago, just took another look and the cover photo still cracks me up (is the same :) plus the design is one of the best I’ve seen in a long while, congrats.

  4. An excellent post and timely reminder of things we should know, or even do know, but often forget. I just don’t work enough on Twitter – there’s something strangely intimidating about and I never know whether to Tweet publicly, RT or send a DM… so while I buzz this around in my head I move on and avoid the whole thing. You’ve managed to break it down so it’s systematic and simple.

    Reaching out to people in town is a great idea. So next time you come to Geneva or Lyon or any place in-between please look me up – perhaps I could buy you a 15-minute cup of coffee?

    Lastly – the Next Steps. Simple and brilliant. Set goals. Chunk them down. Implement them. Why do I only remember this when reminded?? So thank you for this and the other reminders in your post! And don’t forget that coffee…

    • I’ve never been to Geneva or Lyon so next time we are in the area we will have to check it out! Thanks for the offer :)

      Twitter definitely seems hectic, so it is all about dipping your toes in. We have found that scheduling tweets is the easiest way (along with joining in on a few of the weekly twitter chats) as you often will log back in to find people have been responding to you while you were autotweeting.

      See ya next time in Geneva!

  5. Wow you nailed it! Thanks for sharing so many tips – it’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own blog and creating content that you can forget to network in a personal way. I totally agree that meeting people in person is the best way to network, but what a simple thing it is to do to share a post on Twitter, after you’ve commented on it, and yet it’s something I often fail to do.

    • I agree, Johanna. There are so many simple things you can do to network effectively, and it doesn’t take any more than a few seconds to do!

    • Digital networking definitely can be powerful. I have been amazed at the response you can get from tweeting and commenting on someone’s post. They recognize your name and will often go out of their way to give you a shout out. It is also a great way to break the ice before you try to meet them in person…

      Thanks!

  6. There’s nothing more powerful than networking with people and the best way to do this is in person.
    This has been the biggest secret to our success. We don’t stop networking. We meet with people from other blog niches (extremely important, more so than with other travel bloggers), industry people, those in PR, journalists, photographers, you name it.

    We are completely authentic with each one and I am always happy (and a little surprised) when people say that who we are online is exactly who we are when they meet us (again, extremely important and should be very easy if you just be yourself everywhere)

    We have built amazing relationships (many of whom are now friends- even better) and these have led to incredible opportunities for us and it just keeps getting better because our list of contacts now is massive.

    Great post Tony. Looking forward to meeting you and Meg tomorrow night. ( I think I am only having one or two drinks though because we met with Michael Turtle last night and he ruined us!!)

    • Caz, that’s a great point about networking outside the travel blogger niche. What would you say have been your most productive relationships outside this area?

    • The friendship aspect can be completely overlooked… great point, Caz! As opposed to networking back in my corporate life, networking with other bloggers is a really easy way to make great friends. I think it all goes back to the very fact that we all started blogs, are interested in traveling, and are all just generally awesome means we have a lot in common :).

      Interesting as well about focusing outside of just the travel blogger niche. This seems crucial as the really successful travel blogs seem to have a bigger sphere of influence than just travelers/travel bloggers.

      Can’t wait to meet you today and experience our first Australian Barbie! One to two beers sounds fine… Brooke took us to Hunter Valley and we are still recovering!

  7. Great post, Tony!

    I have the habit of being something of a wall flower at conferences at well but I’ve started doing two things – instead of hiding out, I’d grab my good friend who is fantastic and networking and ask if he would mind introducing me to everyone. Not only do I get an introduction by someone who already has an established relationship, but that’s a little bit of an extra boost towards our conversation starter: “how did you meet person-x?”

    Second is to find someone you’ve always wanted to meet and, like you said, have two of three questions. I did this when meeting Keith Jenkins at ITB trade fair earlier this year and what I was expecting to be a 3-minute conversation turned into a 45-minute discussion. Also helps that he is such a kind and welcoming person in real life as well as online!

    • Yep, Tony nailed this post for sure.

      As a quick mention, he also sent me the one of the BEST guest post pitches I’ve ever received. In other words, he’s a class act from start to finish!

    • Nicole, these are wonderful tips!

      Using someone else to introduce you around is great advice. I have a good friend who uses this technique all of the time with great results. You don’t even need a friend. Just introduce yourself to one person and when you are finishing the convo ask them if they could introduce you to one of their favorite people in the room. It works like a charm!

      Finding someone you always wanted to meet works really well too. It might be a bit intimidating, but you will also be way more prepared so it should be an easier talk.

      Thanks for the insights!

      (And thanks, Adam!)

  8. There were so many strong tips in your article Tony. It never occurred to me to invite one of my favorite bloggers to meet (if they are close by.) I’ll be sure to keep an eye out to see when any are in my area.

    • Thanks, Melanie! Definitely follow twitter and facebook pages to see who might be nearby. It can be a really fun and easy way to get your name out there and make awesome friends.

      By the way, love your site name! And I totally agree that anybody can do what you’re doing… everyone told us the same thing as you: “I wish we could do that.” It was so frustrating when we could see how easy it was for anybody to join us!

      Thanks for the comment!

  9. A thriving business only means there is a presence of an established networking. Business is all about networking-for as simple as “word of mouth” thing-it can make a difference in your overall success in your business. Guest posts and comments are some of the best ways to make your business thrive through online means.

    • Guest posts and comments really are a great way to help your business online. It also is a great way to start connecting with peers in your community and help yourself make new contacts that can help you out down the road.

      it is always important to start this process early because you never know when you will need a strong network for help!

  10. I just stumbled across this article and I want to thank you for the interesting points you have made. It is not easy to network with people unless you are genuine and not too demanding. Thanks again for writing this!

  11. Some of the well known bloggers are ignoring the newbies, but on the other hand some are really helpful and nice.
    Travel Bloggers should be big community working together.

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