I recently posted about the importance of commenting on other blogs, but the relationships you should build with other bloggers needs to go deeper than that. Like real life, you get out of blogging what you put into it. Commenting is a great way to spread your blog’s visibility and show your face around, but it doesn’t exactly build a real relationship. Granted you can get to know some bloggers quite well through their comments, but without going further, all you will ever know is exactly what everyone else knows about that blogger.
In order to create mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with bloggers, you need to use as many media as possible to chat about them or their business and hopefully how you can help them. For starters, it’s a great idea to send a new blogger you’ve been reading an email and let them know that you appreciate their work and would be very interested in possibly working on a joint venture together. By reaching out to the blogger, you have already earned a small amount of credibility and by offering them a service that would at least to them appear to be more in their favor, have earned the right to talk more. Remember, each action you take should be for the explicit purpose of getting to the next desired action. Don’t try to sell the farm in your first contact with a blogger. Simply introduce yourself, thank them for their blog and ask them to take the next step with you.
More often than that, when you take this approach, the blogger is going to at least hear you out. It’s all about permission. By spending time on their blog, you have earned the right to email them. By emailing them in a professional manner with an implied benefit for the blogger, you have earned the right to the next step you have planned. And so on and so on. In my experience, it is best to get the bloggers instant messenger address and speak to them in real-time. If you are more outgoing, you may want to trade phone numbers and talk through Skype or some other VOIP service. The closer you get to a face to face meeting, the better off you will be.
Today, spend some time sending a few emails to the authors of the blogs you read most, whether they are a “competitor” or not. You’d be surprised at the opportunities working with a competitor can have for each of you. If you rely on your creativity instead of your defensiveness, you will come up with all sorts of new ideas. Unless the competitor is in your exact industry and within a certain distance of your business, you really aren’t competitors anyway. There is enough business on the Internet for everyone to flourish. Get out there and build relationships with the thought leaders in your niche. By doing so, you have taken the first step to being a thought leader of your own.