Businesses use blogs to meet many business goals. Some use their blog to build thought leadership in hopes of getting a book deal or increased media attention. Others use their blog for research and development purposes to ensure that they’re giving their customers the products and services they’ll pay for.
However, many business owners don’t know that they can leverage their blog to plump up their Rolodex and rub elbows with people they’d like to get to know.
There are several ways to do this, but I prefer to focus on the three tactics that, based on the results we deliver in our work with clients, I know to be the most impactful.
1. Post-encounter follow-up. Let’s say you meet someone promising at a networking event or a conference. Chances are, if you’re interested in working with that person in any capacity, you’ve taken the time to get to know them. If you’re a good networker, you’ve probably asked questions about their business, the challenges they’re currently experiencing and you may even know a little about what they’ve done to try to address those challenges. And, if you really think about it further, you’ve probably written a blog post that may help them gain perspective or take the next step. Resist the temptation to “get lost” in the conversation and think about ways you might leverage your content to help them. As they speak, try to recall a helpful blog post; if you think of one, tell them so. A quick, “Hey, I think I wrote a blog post that might help you sort this out, if you have a card, I’ll make sure to email you a link.” This might feel awkward at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. This tactic serves three purposes: it gives you a reason to reach out to them in the first place, it gives you a something on which to follow-up, and because you’ve written the content, it positions you as someone who understands their pain and has solutions (This is why it’s so important to write your own blog posts. Outsource the to-do’s not the message.)
2. Interviews. Who doesn’t want to be interviewed? If it’s one thing I know, it’s that people love to talk about themselves. I’ve found that the interview request works best if you place a quick phone call. If you get voice mail, say something like, “Hi Ellen, this is John. You probably don’t know who I am, but I have a popular industry blog and we’d love to interview you as part of a series of interviews we’re doing with industry thought leaders. Should take about 15 minutes and we’d love to have you.” It is rare indeed that people turn down interview requests. The interview tactic helps you to create fresh content, it helps you to get to know someone you’d like to get to know and what do you think they’re going to do once the interview goes live? You guessed it – they’re going to spread the word to their audience, too.
3. Link love. Part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is that people need to “enjoy general esteem from others.” In other words, people need to feel as if their ideas are appreciated. Let’s come at this from another angle. Suppose you have a solid budget and you want to hire someone to help you refine your company’s culture. You get proposals from three firms and for the most part, they’re all the same, except for one thing. One of the firms took the time to read your blog, write their own spin, and link back to your blog in the process. Who do you hire? If you’re like most people, you hire the people who linked to your blog (all things being equal, of course). And, that’s something that you can do, too. You can write about someone you’d like to get to know on your blog and link to a blog post they’ve written. And, if you really want to take this to the next level, you might want to select a blog post where they’ve written about something in which they are clearly passionate, but the post has not generated a lot of comments or footprints elsewhere. You’ll be seconding their ideas and that kind of “esteem from others” feels awesome. One caveat: do this only if it feels genuine, otherwise this will backfire like a 50-year-old car.
Many people will call this approach to meeting new people social climbing or schmoozing. My thought is, as long as you truly want to help and your intentions are clear, these tactics are not slick business, but smart business.