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Telling More, With Less

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by Donna Freedman – NMX Speaker

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Donna Freedman

Want to keep people reading your site? Keep this old journalism adage in mind: “Show, don’t tell.”

Your job as a writer isn’t to force-feed facts so that readers will be sure to Get Your Point. Yesterday was the hottest day I can ever remember. My clothes were sticking to me and my hair was sweaty and I almost came down with heat stroke.

Overkill! Here’s how author Annie Dillard described a rough summer day: “It was hot, so hot that the mirror felt warm.” That is a great detail – and all she had to do was notice it.

Use too many descriptors and your narrative bogs down. The right details show rather than slow the story, turning even a run-of-the-mill topic into a memorable piece of writing.

Bloggers should aim to tell us more, with less. And yep, that can be very difficult at times. When I’m writing, I’m often reminded of a line from that song “Against the Wind”: What to leave in, what to leave out.
Leave in as much as you need to create vivid pictures. Leave out the ordinary stuff.

Suppose your topic is the day you proposed to your sweetheart, or the moment you realized that your current way of living was unsustainable. Forget details like “the sun was shining the day I asked my girlfriend to marry me.” So what? The sun shines a lot of the time. It’s memorable only if, say, you live in Seattle and were just coming off 58 cloudy days in a row.
But if at the moment of your proposal a street musician started playing “Smoke on the Water” on the tuba, you bet I’d put that in. Especially if the guy drowned out your dry-mouthed, “Will you marry me?”
Think back to the day you decided to get smarter about money. As you turned away from the ATM that wouldn’t let you withdraw any cash, you saw a bank poster exhorting you to save for your future. Both the poster and your reaction to it – Future? I can’t even pay my bills in the present! – are nice touches when describing a frugal epiphany.

Carefully chosen details help readers imagine a scene or situation they’ve never personally encountered. They provide color and texture – and an entry point for readers who’ve also heard “Smoke on the Water” played on the tuba. (I actually did hear this once, in Chicago. Cracked me up.)
Incidentally, “details” can also mean “research.” Which blogger do you take more seriously: The one who writes,“The average U.S. college student will graduate with an average debt load of $29,400, according to the Institute for College Access & Success.” Or the one who writes, “Students are taking out a lot of college loans these days.”

The same rule applies to facts as to other descriptors: Put in too many and your blog post will sink under the weight. Use only the most important facts.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have details come over and sit on your lap. Broken glass crunching under your feet as you walked to your first day on the new job in a dicey neighborhood. The hissing of the ventilator that kept your mother breathing after a massive stroke. The part-garbage-part-berry odor that let you know a grizzly was very close to the trail you were walking.

Most times, though, you’re going to have to pay attention – to your topic, your surroundings, your life. Annie Dillard noticed a mirror. What will you notice?

Choose the most evocative material you have to connote a scene, a mood, a memory. Liven up those green-vegetable pieces (the ones you do because they’re good for readers) with facts or statistics that provide perspective as well as color.

Remember: Show, don’t tell. A few carefully chosen details let readers draw their own pictures. Too many details slow the narrative. Ordinary details don’t belong in your posts, unless you explain why they were actually extraordinary.

(Donna Freedman’s NMX presentation, “Stop Calling It ‘Content’!,” will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 13. Donna has 31 years’ worth of professional writing experience, the last eight of them online. This guest post was based on an excerpt from her new online course, Write A Blog People Will Read. Use the coupon code NMX20 to get 20% off the course fee.)

NMX: You’re Right, It’s Not the Same

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I recently took a short break from working as Conference Director and Community Manager for NMX. The reasons for the break aren’t as important as the reasons I returned – because as a content creator I believe in this conference, what it stands for, and the creative people who make up the NMX team and community. I returned for them, I returned for you, and, yes, I returned for me.

During the time I was away, I received a lot of feedback about NMX. Most of the feedback was positive with a “but” thrown in. “But it’s not the same,” as when it began in 2007.

No, NMX isn’t the same, and that is a good thing!?

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New Media and online content creation have evolved and we have to evolve with it. We can’t stay the same. “Same” is boring. ‘”Same” is a failure to adapt. Why would anyone want to go to the same conference over and over again, particularly in a new media world that is constantly changing?

NMX is not the same because our attendees aren’t the same, nor is our focus. When BlogWorld & New Media Expo was first announced in July of 2006 no one had ever heard of Twitter because it wasn’t public yet. Myspace was the big social network and of course Instagram, Google + Pinterest, Snapchat and others were years away from coming to life.

In 2007 bloggers dominated NMX and the mainstream news. We were known as “BlogWorld.” Heck, I still call it BlogWorld…but we were always much more than that. From the very beginning we were talking about podcasting, web video and social media. All forms of content creation were represented in the exhibit hall and the conference.

From the very beginning Rick told me and anyone else who would listen that podcasting and video were going to eventually become huge parts of the show and the corporate marketers and PR pros would fade back into the PRSA’s and marketing worlds they came from. Over the years we evolved and our community of attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors evolved with us. The one thing that remains constant is that NMX exists to serve content creators. So, no. We’re not the same.

Many online brands that are popular today launched at BlogWorld, including a couple of now-popular social media events. Many of the successful (and Internet famous) content creators and social media professionals you look up to today made a name for themselves speaking at BlogWorld/NMX.

Nothing makes us happier than to know we had a part of in someone’s success. If everything stayed the same, we couldn’t continue to introduce new people, products, and services so we can help them succeed as well. Of Course NMX is different now. We hope to always be different, because our attendees are too interesting and creative to be interested in the “same.”

We’re a different conference because our focus is different

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We hear NMX described as a “blogging conference,” “tech conference,” “podcasting conference,” “social media conference,” or “content marketing conference.” The truth is, we’re none of the above and we never were. Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing weren’t even buzzwords when NMX was born.

  • We’re not a blogging conference because we cover all aspects of online content creation. Blogging is very important and will always have a huge spotlight at NMX. Back in 2010 one of our favorite speakers Lee Odden has explained it this way Blogs are the hub of social media and everything else makes up the spokes. If you just change the word blog to content you have an perfect description of how we view the world of new media. NMX is about all content on the web.
  • We’re not a podcasting conference, either. Like blogging, podcasting has an important focus at NMX, but our sessions for content creators go far beyond podcasting. We see podcasting as one of the three critical legs of the new media chair; blogging, podcasting and web video. They are inextricably linked – particularly for any independent content creator who is trying to compete and succeed in a world full of content.
  • We’re not a tech conference. Our community is tech-savvy for sure. They enjoy gadgets, wearable technology and keep up with all the latest tech news. They are definitely “early adopters”. However, while technology plays an important part in our event, and while our attendees love to see our exhibitors and sponsors who are technology-based, technology is not our primary focus. If you rely on the latest technology to create, distribute, consume and monetize your content you will find it at NMX.
  • We are not a social media conference. Social media plays an important part in content creation, but social isn’t who we are or what we are about – Social media makes up the spokes we use to bring our audience to our content.

NMX really isn’t difficult to pinpoint or nail down. We are a conference for new media content creators. If you blog, podcast, create web video, or take beautiful photographs, you belong at NMX.

We’re a different conference because we keep it affordable

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We understand that many members of our community are independent content creators, which means they are in business for themselves, or that their employers don’t have the budget to send them. That’s why we do everything we can to keep NMX affordable. That means we can’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to bring in A-list celebrities. Every big name speaker you have ever seen at NMX is there because they love new media as much as you do.  We don’t focus on shock and awe, we focus on smart people sharing smart ideas.

We hope you agree that meeting people at a table in the new media lounge is far more beneficial than yelling at someone over loud music.

We’re a different conference because we don’t mind if you share

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If you look at YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare, Instagram and other platforms you’ll see hundreds of past NMX sessions, and we don’t mind. We like to think of NMX as the Grateful Dead of conferences. We don’t mind when attendees take video or audio at our sessions and keynotes. We encourage it, because that means more exposure for our speakers and our event. That is the new media way. Besides, it’s a great way to share some knowledge with our friends who couldn’t be there. As a conference for content creators it would be pretty lame if we encouraged everyone to create and share their content far and wide except from our event.

We’re different because it’s not about what you have to sell, but what you have to teach

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If you want to speak at NMX you have to have a better reason than “I wrote a book” or “I want people to learn about my product or service.” One thing we take seriously is that there is no selling from the podium. On the extremely rare occasions a sales person gets through, you can bet that person will never be back. In fact, we have an agreement with NMX attendees – if anyone gets up and starts selling during a presentation, you can heckle them all you want. Selling is for the Expo hall, not our sessions.

We’re a different conference because we value knowledge and passion over influence

When we look for people to speak at NMX, we’re looking for teachers and story tellers, not “influencers” or self appointed “experts.” For us, knowledge, passion, and creativity trumps influence every time.

Many of the well known speakers you see on the speaking circuit today  got their start at NMX. We’re proud to say we knew they were smart before they became famous for being smart. So we’re happy to introduce some speakers you might not be familiar with, because nothing makes us prouder than to watch them launch amazing careers from the NMX stage.

Now, this isn’t to say we don’t value influence because we do. However, if we do bring in someone with a well known name you can bet your bottom dollar it’s because we felt they had something important to teach – not because we thought they might put butts in the seats.

There Is No Other Event Like NMX.

When Rick first had the idea for NMX it was because he had been searching for an event like it for months and it didn’t exist. He wanted to attend an event full of bloggers, podcasters and web video creators just like him. He wanted to learn from them, meet people who were as passionate about new media who he was and who he didn’t have to explain what a blog was. No one understands that more than me.

When I attended the first BlogWorld 2007, I was very shy and had never traveled by myself anywhere, but I took a brave, big step and flew to Las Vegas because I felt the same passion for blogging that Rick did. When he spoke about his passion and his need for this conference, I got it. Sometimes I feel as if some of the people in my life don’t understand why I am so passionate about NMX, but I can truly say that everyone at NMX from the speakers to the attendees are MY people. I am so happy to be here. I can geek out about blogging to my heart’s content and no one thinks I’m weird.

Over the years the buzz words have changed but no other event has even come close to creating what NMX is. Do you remember when Twitter first came on the scene? Several Twitter conferences popped up overnight. People told us we should change the name to TwitterWorld. We stuck to our vision and our core belief that blogging, podcasting and web video were born to be together and that they all depend on each other. We still believe that today.

Why should you attend NMX if it’s so different?

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Let’s break it down:

  • Familiar faces, but not the same old, same old: You’ll meet both old and new friends at NMX, but it’s never the same thing each year.
  • Affordability: We do everything we can to keep NMX affordable for our attendees.
  • Networking: You won’t meet any brighter or more creative people than those who are attending NMX. You will find opportunities all around you.
  • Sponsors and exhibitors: Our sales team works hard to hand pick sponsors and exhibitors who best represent our mission and our responsibility to all online content creators. Whether it’s the tools and technology you need to succeed as a content creator, or in life itself, there’s ROI for everyone at NMX.
  • Attendees who are invested in the experience: Most attendees at NMX pay for their passes out of their own pockets rather than have costs covered by an employer. This means they’re more invested in the experience, and are 100% focused on learning and networking.
  • NAB Show: NMX is co-located with the annual NABShow. All Content Creator or VIP pass holder also gain entry into NABShow’s enormous tradeshow and general (keynote ) sessions. That’s value added to your ticket at no additional charge.
  • Red carpet events: All Content Creator and VIP pass holders are invited to attend the 10th Annual Podcast Awards and 4th IAWTV Annual IAWTV Awards and red carpet events.
  • Parties, mixers, and other networking events: Rub elbows with well known content creators as well as creative up and comers.
  • People who want to work with content creators: Many brands are looking to hire content creators, and they’re coming to NMX.
  • Blogging Lifetime Achievement Award: In which we will present an award to someone who has really made a mark in the world of blogging.
  • People who are looking to grow their online presence: Are you looking to up your game and grow traffic and boost your online presence? You’ll learn how at NMX!

 

Surprises in store…

I’m not at liberty to divulge any secrets about our opening keynote. Suffice  it to say it will be like nothing you’ve seen before at NMX or any other recent conference. Once photos and videos are shared online, you’ll want to make sure everyone knew you were there.

I’ll tell you this –  where we’re going, we won’t need roads.

One million stories at NMX…and none of them are the same

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NMX isn’t just a conference. It’s inspiration. Everywhere you look is an idea. Everyone you meet has a tale to tell or something interesting to share. A ticket to NNX is a ticket to the world.

There are one million stories at NMX…which story will you tell?

Adam Carolla and Norman Pattiz To Keynote at NMX

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NMX is pleased to announce  two of our most popular speakers are returning. Podcasting superstars Adam Carolla and Norm Patitz are joining NMX ’15 as keynote speakers.

Adam Carolla

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When it comes to NMX, this isn’t Adam Carolla’s first rodeo. He’s joined us on stage as a keynoter at other NMX events and remains one of our most requested speakers..

With a career spanning traditional media with television shows on Comedy Central, and MTV, as well as his influence in radio working with personalities such as Jimmy Kimmel and Dr. Drew Pinsky,  Adam made the successful transition to podcasting and that’s what he is best known for today. In fact, Adam Carolla holds the Guinness World Record for Most Downloaded Podcast for The Adam Carolla Show.

Norman Pattiz

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Joining Adam Carolla on the keynote stage is Norm Pattiz, who isn’t afraid to make bold statements about the future of radio and podcasting. Though he is one of the pioneers of syndicated radio, last year Norm told NMX attendees podcasting was going to be even bigger than syndicated radio. And he should know. Norm is a National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, founder of Westwood One Radio Networks and founder of Podcast One

This also isn’t Norm’s first time keynoting at NMX , and we’re hoping form more bold statements at NMX ’15/

Two Podcasting Greats, One Keynote

Bridging the gap between traditional and new media; when we talk about the “media revolution” this is exactly what we mean.

What happens when you put two outspoken podcasters on stage together? We don’t know either, but we can’t wait to find out.

 

Do you have your ticket for NMX? Register today!

Dave Jackson Announced as New Director of Podcasting for New Media Expo #NMX

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Please join me in welcoming Dave Jackson as our new Director of Podcasting for New Media Expo #NMX. When we first started looking for a new Director of Podcasting earlier this year I went and asked some of our attendees, speakers and sponsors who they would recommend. There were lots of great candidates but one name kept coming up… David Jackson from SchoolofPodcasting.com.

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A Little Bit About Dave

So who is David Jackson?

Other than being a frequent NMX attendee and speaker Dave has spoken at multiple Podcamp events. He is the founder of School of Podcasting where he has over 800,000 1.1 Million downloads. He has more than 20 years of technical training experience.  Dave has walked the walk. From his own successful podcast to personally coaching legions of other successful podcasters. Continue Reading

NMX To Host And Produce 10th Annual Podcast Awards Show At NAB Show

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We are very proud to announce the 10th annual Podcast Awards Show will be held April 14th at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. This is the latest big day in a series of big days for all of us at New Media Expo.

Many of you know that we have produced the Podcast Awards Show at New Media Expo for the past two years. In 2013 Leo Laporte served as our host in a meeting room with about 300 people attending. It felt like a family reunion. Everyone knew all the inside jokes and everyone knew each other. Continue Reading

When is New Media Expo 2015? Where Will It Be?

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We have heard those questions so many times the last couple of months. I apologize for keeping you waiting so long to hear the answers.

Two hours ago I got an email I had been waiting on for eight years. Since I first had the idea to launch New Media Expo I knew that for new media content creators to get the recognition, respect, credibility and compensation they deserved they had to go into the lion’s den and stand shoulder to shoulder with traditional media broadcasters as equals.

I am extremely proud to share this news with you…..

April 13 – 16, 2015 New Media Expo will be co-located with the NAB Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Westgate Resort.

You may have heard me call NMX the NAB Show of the future. Just in case you haven’t, let me explain. NAB stands for National Association of Broadcasters. This is the annual tradeshow and conference where TV and radio broadcasters, film makers and marketers who create audio and video come to every year. It is the place where the latest technologies, tools and strategies are shared. Last year 93,000 Continue Reading

Protect Your Favorite Podcast from the Patent Trolls

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There are often very good reasons people and companies must defend their patents. The Patent system protects inventors. When a patent is infringed on, the holder must take action or risk losing their patent. That is how it works when the system is being used properly. Patent Trolls are not using the system as it was designed.

Patent trolls are not in the business of defending their patents. They are in the business of extortion. They purchase broad general patents and then make claims about infringement. They send out letters claiming a patent infringement and asking for “licensing” fees. It is nearly always cheaper to pay the fee than to fight it in court. Often these patent infringement claims would not likely hold up in court but few businesses are able to fund the 1.5 + million it would take to survive a legal battle.  Even Apple gave in and settled

For us non legal folks, that’s known as a shake down.

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In 2013 one of these trolls sent letters to several leading podcasters such as HowStuffWorks podcast (Discovery Channel), Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick, Adam Carolla  and more. They claim that a patent for their failed “Magazines on tape” Continue Reading

Becoming a Full-Time Blogger: An Interview with Cora Harrington from The Lingerie Addict

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Cora Harrington At NMX 2014, we were lucky to have Cora Harrington from The Lingerie Addict present a session about building your blog community. Cora sat down with me to discuss how she made that leap into blogging full time and what advice she has to new bloggers thinking about making this leap. Check out what she had to say about becoming a full-time blogger:

Allison: Thanks for the interview, Cora! How did you first become a blogger and what made you decide to start blogging about lingerie?

Cora: I started blogging about lingerie because I was dating this guy, and I wanted to buy some nice lingerie, but I had no idea how to shop for the stuff. I was also becoming more and more interested in lingerie just on my own, but my friends really didn’t want to hear about this cool new pair of stockings I found online.

While there were a few lingerie blogs around at the time I started, they mostly focused on sharing press releases and lookbooks, not on giving reviews or shopping advice. So I started just by posting reviews of things I bought and photos of items I was interested in buying. I never really expected anyone to read what I wrote; it was just a fun stress-reliever, especially since my day job was fairly intense (I used to work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, physical assault, and family members of homicide victims).

Very, very slowly and over a long period of time, I built an organic readership based mostly on word of mouth. I’ve been blogging full-time for 2 years now and my blog is 5 years old. Unlike what a lot of people assume, I don’t actually come from a fashion, PR, marketing, or even writing background. And I don’t live in New York, the fashion capital of America. I went to school in sociology and I live in Seattle, and I definitely think of it as a privilege to be able to do something I love that’s so much fun everyday.

How did you decided to make the leap to become a full time blogger?

Honestly, there were several major developments that happened at once, both personally and professionally. A big one is that I started a serious relationship with my now-husband, and that meant I didn’t have much free time as before to spend on my blog. It’s one thing to work all night and everyday and on the weekends with your blog when you’re single and don’t have any dependents, but when I found myself in a relationship, some of my time needed to go into that as well.

My traffic and the visibility of my blog was also starting to increase dramatically. After 2 and a half years of almost no one reading me, I was abruptly getting thousands of readers per day (I’m sure it happened much more gradually than that, but looking back, it feels like no one read my blog and then all of a sudden, a LOT of people were reading my blog). That traffic increase also meant my blog took more time and energy; in short, it was becoming a very demanding hobby.

Finally, my blog started to make money. Once the revenue from my blog began to equal the take home pay from my day job (and we’re not talking an astronomical amount here, but it was enough to pay bills with), I began to seriously think about making the switch to blogging full-time.

Once you started blogging full time, did you do anything differently on your blog?

One of the biggest changes I noticed was that I started to treat my blog professionally, and I’m not necessarily talking about what I posted or how often I posted. Once I began blogging full-time, I registered as an LLC, filed for my business license, obtained my trademark, and purchased business insurance all within a few months. I also hired a team of writers, and began working with a virtual assistant. These were things that definitely could have and should have happened sooner, but it was hard to the find the time to do the legwork when my day job was taking up all of my daytime business hours. I also had more time to spend on writing content, promoting the site, and traveling to industry events (like Lingerie Market, for example, which happens in NYC twice per year).

What’s your best piece of advice for people who are considering quitting their jobs to blog full time?

I could say a lot here, but I think the most important thing is to make sure you’re surrounded with as much support from family and friends as possible. Self-employment has a lot of perks, but a definite downside is that it can be incredibly isolating. And that’s even more true when you’re self-employed as a full-time blogger. Not only is there the usual stuff like public criticism and personal insults, but a lot of people also won’t understand what you do or even think of what you do as a “real” job. And there will be times when things feel really lean and really tough, and when you’re genuinely not sure if you made the right decision or are heading in the right direction.

That’s when having a good support network is crucial. Having folks who believe in you and who believe in your ability to do this is so important, especially during those times of self-doubt. And those people also need to be honest with you when you’re heading in the wrong direction or perhaps need to come up with another solution. I’m very fortunate in that husband and my parents  and my close circle of friends, even though none of them are quite sure of what goes into running The Lingerie Addict, are very supportive of it and of me. Be deliberate about surrounding yourself with people who are invested in and hopeful for your success.

Thanks, Cora, for an awesome interview and for speaking at NMX 2014. Check out our virtual ticket if you want to get a recording of Cora’s session about building a blog community.

7 Ways to Suck at Building Relationships Online

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grave-hands-623090-m You know your  blog would take off if only Joe Schmoe the a-list blogger in your niche would have the good sense to read it and promote it. You just know it. It’s time to build that relationship. You’re going to be a rock star. You can feel it in your bones.

I hesitate to say that most people suck at building relationships online, but some days it sure feels like that, doesn’t it?

Building relationships is the key to blogging success, in my humble opinion, so if you don’t have this skill, you’re at a huge disadvantage. Let’s take a look at all the ways people are doing it wrong:

Mistake #1: Not Introducing Yourself

Several years ago, I wrote a post called, “Scott Stratten Doesn’t Know Who You Are,” which is filled with advice that I still stand behind today. The thesis was that you shouldn’t expect a-listers to just magically find your blog. If you want someone to know who you are, you have to say hello. You have to put in that work to build the initial relationship, and you have to be memorable.

Mistake #2: Playing the Tit for Tat Game

Just because you do something for someone doesn’t mean they are obligated to do something for you in return. When you do a favor for someone, like tweeting a link or giving a LinkedIn recommendation, you should do so because you want to, not because you think they’ll do the same for you.

Mistake #3: Disappearing

We’re building a great relationship with some funny banter on Twitter and then…poof…I don’t hear from you for three months. In that time, I won’t forget you, but our relationship certainly isn’t improving. I know it can be a challenge to keep up with everything and everyone, but I suggest making a list of 100 or so people and putting in the effort to continuously build your relationships with them on a weekly if not daily basis.

Mistake #4: False Flattery

There are few things worse than someone blowing smoke up your rear. Don’t flatter someone because you want to build a relationship. The best relationships are build on honesty and constructive comments. That doesn’t mean that the first contact you have with an a-lister out of the gate should be criticism (no matter how constructive), but gushing over someone’s work can come off as really fake.

Mistake #5: Building a Friendship of Convenience

Some people only contact me when they need help. It’s not even a tit-for-tat thing, which would almost be better, because at least I get something out of the deal! When you build a relationship with someone online, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it, but if you take, take, take without ever giving, people are not going to be inclined to help you.

Mistake #6: Thinking You’re a Bigger Deal than You Really Are

The “don’t you know who I am” mindset is really unattractive. No, I don’t know who you are, no matter how big your audience is. If you want to build a relationship with someone, be humble. Assume they’ve never heard of you, and if they have, it should be a pleasant surprise. Even if you are a big deal online, that kind of attitude makes it seem like you think you’re better than the other person. When building a relationship, always make the other person feel like the most important person in the room.

Mistake #7: Demanding Too Much Time

We’re all strapped for time. If you want to build a relationship with an a-lister, realize that they can’t spend three hours every day replying to your emails, tweets, Facebook messages, and phone calls. Be respectful of their time, and always say thank you for any advice or help they give you. Believe it or not, “thank you” is a phrase that never goes out of style (and is waaaaay too uncommon online).

What mistakes do you see people making when it comes to building relationships online?

What’s New on the NMX Blog:

Podcast Alley Schedule

Podcast Alley is the stage on the NMX floor where podcasters will be recording LIVE. The excitement...