When I started writing about travel consumer issues, social networking sites were not used for business purposes or making contacts – but I put time aside a few times a week to participate in discussions on blogs, forums and commented on high-profile media websites.
Without spending quality time networking with journalists, bloggers and consumers, I would not have achieved what I have. Networking was responsible for my first appearance on TV, led to journalists asking me for my opinion on travel issues and helped me create a blog that was attracting over 100,000 unique visitors a month.
I split networking down into three groups:
• Networking to increase readers
• Networking to attract media attention
• Networking with potential advertisers and collaborators.
Why I find offline networking difficult
I would class myself as an introvert and believe it or not, but I can be shy when I first meet people. Part of my problem is confidence and I struggle in a networking environment where I have to introduce myself to a group of strangers, but attending various travel events and seminars had helped me overcome this.
My first networking tip would be to create an elevator pitch where you can introduce yourself and your blog in 10-20 words, this has really helped me. Mine is simple “Hi, I’m Neha Mehta and I write about the issues that consumers have with travel”, which always leads into a discussion.
Have a thought about your elevator pitch before you start networking.
Networking to increase readers
While writing the blog I realized very quickly how powerful networking can be, so I wrote a list of popular blogs and forums where I knew travel consumers frequently visited. I made sure I put some time aside each week to visit these websites.
It is important that you come across as being knowledgeable and helpful, and show an interest by asking questions too. What you are saying needs to hook people onto your blog where they will hopefully sign up for your newsletter, purchase any products or services that you are promoting, or become regular readers.
You will find that because you are leaving comments, asking questions, and participating in the community, over time you will build up a relationship with the person or company who owns the website, and this can lead to other opportunities, like they might write about your blog which will help increase your readership.
Networking to attract media attention
The saying is true; it is not always what you know, but who you know. Nowadays most journalists are on Twitter, so create a list, and add all of the journalists that write about your niche and over a period of time chat with them, ask questions, respond to their questions, and build a relationship.
What you will realise is that journalists need you as much as you need them. They will want your opinion and this leads to being quoted in newspapers and magazines. That’s why it’s important to build a good working relationship with journalists.
Networking with potential clients and collaborators
Networking with people can open doors .And trust me, it does change the over perspective of your site. This wouldn’t be possible without collaboration of media partners, popular travel bloggers and travel agencies. To create a successful blog you will have to learn new skills, like search engine optimization, understanding social media, and the technical side of running a website. Networking will make it easy to find people who can help you with your skills gap and vice versa. Sometimes, collaboration is the best way forward, rather then struggle on yourself or not launch the great idea you’ve had because you don’t have the skills.
Find local networking events to build confidence
I still struggle to this day to network offline, but, my final tip would be to find a small networking group near where you live, or create your own. Make sure you speak to at least one person, ask them questions about their business, and tell them about yours, then build your confidence over time.
Neha Mehta is a blogger and content writer and travelling is her passion. She has traveled all over the world and writes her experiences in her blog. She also shares her experience at CouponWaale.