Blog Q&A: Networking Etiquette

Networking ettiquetteWe're back with another Blog Q&A from our new series. If you missed the first two, you can find them here. Today's question is about making online friends and networking, and it comes from a Blog Life student. She asks:

"I just read through the section on networking: "friends first, networking later." This is something I've struggled with for years as a blogger. Is it possible to establish friendships with other bloggers through email, or is it mostly through social media these relationships are forged? And if it's through email, how do you send an email that's not too fangirl or awkward… I just often leave thoughtful comments on blogs in hopes that one day they'll notice me, but connections aren't being made for me that way. Help! What do you guys do? And how do you recognize a genuine hello-let's-be-friends from a because-you're-famous one?" 

Awesome question – because reaching out to anyone online can feel totally intimidating sometimes! I still get nervous to email or reach out to people, so I get it. Let me just start by saying that I think friendship and networking go hand in hand. Some people view networking as almost a dirty word, which I can understand, but I don't necessarily agree. It depends how you go about it. If you go through life just using people, then you are missing the whole point – and you're cheating yourself out of some amazing friendships. 

OK, so first rule is be friendly. This should be EASY, guys. Just email people, comment on their site or their social media, and say something nice. Give them a compliment. If their work has made a difference to you or you found it useful, tell them so. Another great way to let people know you love their work is to link them or share their work with your audience. Be confident, and it won't come off awkward, I promise. Anytime someone has emailed or left me a comment about how they liked XYX that I did, it totally made my day – there's nothing fangirl about that! It's just plain nice. Just keep your tone confident and casual and never be afraid to email or reach out to anyone no matter how "famous" you may perceive them as being – we're all human at the end of the day, right? :) 

I recommend you work to make this a weekly or bi-weekly practice. Don't just follow people online, reach out and give them a specific compliment. They may not always see it, as the Internet moves fast and not all correspondence gets the attention it deserves. But doing this all the time is not only a good habit, it will also increase the likelihood that you will be seen at least some of the time. 

OK, so you're friendly and over time you will probably make friends with various people online. Hooray! Now let's say the day comes when you'd like to promote your new project. How can you ask your friends to help without fear? Here's a few tips. 

1. Be clear and concise in what you're asking.

There have been many, many times over the years that someone I know from online emails me with a super vague request or a super long email that seems to be asking for some kind of promotion, but I feel like I need a key to decipher it. Don't do this. People are busy, respect their time by keeping your request concise and easy to understand. If you want them to give away a copy of your new book on their Instagram account, then say so. They may say no, but at least they know what they are saying no to. Otherwise they may not take the time to read your super long email, or they may not take the time to try and clarify what you are asking of them. 

2. Be polite and, if possible, offer them something in return.

Now likely you are asking your friends for marketing favors because you want to collaborate and learn from them, AND probably your marketing budget is small to ZERO. That's nothing to be ashamed of. We've all been there, friend! But, if you are asking for something, then a very friendly thing to do is offer something in return. You can be specific about this or you can throw out a few ideas and tell them that you'd love to hear their goals right now to see how you can help. If you're not willing to do a favor for them, then you probably shouldn't be asking them for one. But of course this doesn't mean you have to do anything they ask. It's OK to say no; I say no all the time. But, it never hurts to try and explore a mutually beneficial opportunity that you both might benefit from. I truly believe that if we are willing to help and willing to ASK when we need help, we can all help each other make our dreams come true. I really do! So it doesn't hurt to ask, just make sure you're willing to give just as much as you're willing to receive. :) 

3. If you don't hear back, only follow up once or twice.

Now this only applies to those times you are asking for things or looking to collaborate in some way. If you are simply sending out your weekly kind words, then you don't need to hear back. Just assume the good vibes are out there and don't worry. You can always send some more love their way later in life, no biggie. But when you are asking to work together, or do some kind of marketing push together, I do think following up once or twice is OK. After that you should move on. I generally will follow up once by the original method I contacted them (email, DM, etc.), and then maybe say something to them on another channel just so they know I'm around. People are busy, so follow ups help oftentimes because it's very possible they saw your request, meant to respond, got busy with something else, and then totally forgot. So a polite follow up is great. But if you follow up over and over again, probably they aren't interested AND you should be using that time and energy to contact someone else or in another way to benefit your overall goals. I have asked people to work with me on many things over the years, and I've gotten plenty of polite no-thank-yous as well as plenty of just plain ol' never-heard-from-them-again. I could spend time taking it personal or staring at my computer screen thinking how to write them again so maybe they will respond – or I can move on. And the moving on is usually the best thing since time is precious for all of us. 

Other than this, my only other tip would be that you really should not take anything too personal. If someone doesn't want to work together, this could be for ALL sorts of reasons. So don't take it to heart. There's always more opportunity out there too. One closed door just means it's time to knock on the next one. And above all – be a good person. I think this is probably obvious, but as long as you always remember to give of yourself and to spread love and kindness where you can, you don't have to be afraid to reach out and try to make connections. So long as you do it with love, you're doing it the right way. 

If you have any other networking or making online connections tips or stories you'd like to share, feel free! Or if you have any other blogging or business questions, let us know as we're always happy to have more to add to our list for this series. Thanks! xo. Emma (+ Elsie)

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography + Design: Sarah Rhodes and Mara Dockery. Some questions have been shortened from their original form simply so they fit better within this series's format. 

  • As a new blogger, I’m really finding these Q&A posts helpful and insightful. I have been following ABM since 2009 and have always felt so inspired by yourself and Elsie. Thank you for constantly providing guidance and help through all mediums and platforms 🙂

    -Blythe
    http://www.eleanorandemilio.com

  • Wonderful! I’m starting to pick up the amount I network and looking for freelancing positions so it’s good to know what people expect!

  • This series is really helping me as a new blogger. And you are so right about us all being human at the end of the day. I need to keep that in mind!

  • I second Blythe’s sentiments. I started a blog awhile ago for us “older but hopefully wiser” gals since I didn’t ever see too much to fit that category. I like to be inspired by other blogs and love your down to earth insights. It can definitely be intimidating to put your heart out there for everyone to see and judge, but if anything else, it’s made me a better person! Thanks again for sharing what you’ve learned. Mary Wilding

  • This is SO HELPFUL. I just launched a skin care line this year and am dabbling with blogger collaborations. It’s been awkward at first, but I am finally getting comfortable now that I am establishing relationships. These are awesome tips. You guys are the best!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Emma! Very great tips that I’ll definitely keep in mind as I grow my blog. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with those of us who are new at this. I started my little blog a couple of months ago, and have no idea really how to get it off the ground. Collaboration can be a huge resource, but it’s always helpful to get some tips on how to approach it in a tactful way. I really really enjoy your blog, and this makes me like it even more. Thank you!

    Shelley Pope Corley
    southernprepchic.wordpress.com

  • I love these tips and can absolutely relate! I sometimes forget that people are super busy and may not have seen the initial message. Other times though, no answer is an answer and you just have to respect it, not take it personally and move on! And it helps to tell yourself, would you really want to connect/work for/work with someone who can’t even take the time to respond? NOPE!

    Great reminders in this post!

    Lisa
    http://www.theeverydayelevated.com

  • Agreed! I feel like even though so many pointers seem to be common sense (be polite- duh!), they still need to be reinforced. I struggle with connecting with people online and I think my readership has suffered because of this. But when I have reached out, it’s usually returned great results. Sometimes we just need a reminder to put ourselves out there. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for these tips! I’m currently taking one of your classes and am learning as I blog. 🙂 I’m not quite networking yet. Still trying to get my blog off the ground, but this will certainly help me in the future!

  • Thank you so much for this post! As someone new to this world, there is such a veil of secrecy over this world. Posts like this make it a little more accessible.

    Cheers,
    Nicole
    Donuts, Diapers and Daydreams

  • I love the “don’t take it personal” tip! Just like in the corporate world, you can’t take stuff personally. Blogging, for most, is a business and you just can’t take stuff personally. Could you imagine if every salesperson took “no thanks” to heart! We wouldn’t have salespeople lol.
    =) Bridget | http://nuttyhiker.com

  • This is very helpful. I recently reached out to another blogger which on the surface seemed totally intimidating. But through a photo location tag I found out that she lived in my area and she was actually a sweet person! The main thing for me is to always be genuine. It may or may not work but it’s the best plan in my arsenal :-.)

    http://thequirklife.com/

  • This is so great! I’m actually working through this right now and these are all great reminders that I’m on the right track. I’m still working on the “keep it concise”, but I’m getting there! One email at a time…

  • This post was super helpful for me! I’ve been trying to establish good relationships since I got started in the blogging community but have had trouble to really get connected with people. It’s great to know that I’m not being annoying by sending them a DM or a Snap every once in a while!

    xo, Alison
    http://www.beautyandblazers.com

  • This post is so good and on point! As someone who reaches out a lot and is reached out to, these tips are dead on. When I want to make friends with those I admire, I just comment and comment and comment! Instagram, SnapChat, blog posts, and eventually they respond! And in 2 cases I’m thinking of, a suggestion for collaboration CAME FROM THEM, NOT ME. Organically! Because we had become friends! And it’s really hard for me to not take things personally so it’s hard to dish out the same advice, but there are so many reasons for someone to say no. For me, artists contact me trying to get their work on my shop shelves and I have to say no so much! Most of the time, I love it but I just don’t have the money! You never know. Anyway. That’s my nine cents worth.

  • This was such a fab post! I’m normally so fearful of reaching out to people and this has really helped. Thank you! x

  • Great post ! I am moving to London this weekend and would love to make some blogger friends there! However it is difficult to make friends as I have not yet networked with anyone from the blogging world. This is super helpful though xxxx

    alicekatex

  • Thanks for the tips! This is really helpful as I am trying to find ways to expand my blog. My fear of reaching out to other bloggers is that I know how much time and effort they put into their blogs that I intimidated asking for advice. Thanks again!

    Jenn | http://lepetittato.wordpress.com/

  • Thank you so much for these Q&A posts! I started my blog less than a year ago and I still remember the day I was inspired to blog after finding ABM!

    love from grace ♥ imaqination

  • Great tips! Definitely about #2 about offering something. Why would someone want to use their valuable time if they have no benefit? Lovely post, as always!

  • This was so helpful! Thanks so much!! I just started my blog and I invested a lot of time up front developing content. Now I feel super proud of my blog but Im realizing I haven’t dedicated enough time to cultivating a strong readership. So I will take all this advice and run with it 🙂

    Also – not to that awkward person that you just mentioned – but any new bloggers want to be friends?! Shoot me a message! I would love some critiques!

    XO

    Jess
    http://thesunshinemark.com

  • I’m a new blogger and I just came across these posts. And they’re super helpful! I’ve been planning on doing come collaborations, so these are great tips!
    Thank you!

  • Informative comments ! I learned a lot from the details . Does anyone know where my business can acquire a blank CA Real Estate Form RE 209 form to use ?

  • This is really helpful, thanks! I struggle with contacting other bloggers and the tone i should have, especially as i contact them on behalf of the company i work for. Its a fine line between remaining professional but also showing them you admire their work.

    🙂