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5 Tips To Making A Strong First Impression


Photo Credit: The Art of Manliness.

You’ve spent thousands of hours cultivating your online business relationships.

You’ve exchanged thousands of emails, tweets, and messages with your internet peers.

And now you’re about to meet these people in person.

For the first time…

Feel the pressure?  Worried about making a bad first impression?

Don’t worry – I have five tips that will help you send the message you aim to deliver.

Tip 1 – Dress Sharp

I know you want to be yourself.  But just who are you?

I’m serious – aren’t you at this conference to improve yourself and meet others who share your ambitions for greatness?  If so – then dress like the successful person you envision yourself to be.

When I think of a successful people – I don’t envision t-shirts, torn jeans, or baseball caps.   Understand your clothing speaks loudly, and it screams a message before you even open your mouth.  You represent your business, your family, and yourself.  Clothe yourself accordingly.

Now – how specifically would I recommend you dress?

First – Pack for the environment you’re going to be in.

Most of the time that means an enclosed, climate-controlled conference center — not exactly the jungles of Borneo.

Conference clothing needs to do two basic tasks: make you look sharp and stay comfortable for a full day’s wear. Try to bring clothing that meets the following guidelines:

Comfortable – Lightweight, well-fitted, and sweat-proofed with good undergarments (and a good lining on suits or jackets). Avoid things you’re going to have to carry around all day like a heavy overcoat.  And I can’t over-stress the importance of good fit – bad fit will not only make a $1,000 suit look cheap but it makes wearing your clothing uncomfortable.

Dressy – This doesn’t mean a business suit, but you want to look sharp while sending your message. There is nothing wrong with aiming for the high end of dress-casual — jackets for the gentlemen, hose for the ladies, etc.

Relevant – Related to the point above, but dress to the expectations of your customer.  Are you a lawyer representing your internet focused law firm?  I expect you to dress sharper than the man promoting his new fitness company.

One unique piece – You’re selling yourself, so don’t err too far on the side of being too conservatively dressed. There should be something about the outfit that’s unique and eye-catching; keep it small such as a colored pocket square or an artistic watch face.  Don’t dress like a clown – unless you happen to be one.

A well-dressed person sends the signal that they care about the details – that’s the type of person I look to meet and partner up with.

Tip 2 – Introduce Yourself

Approaching a total stranger is hard. But it’s often what needs to happen. No matter how good your skills, product, or service, only a fraction of your potential clients are going to take the initiative to approach you about business. Most of the time you’ll have to go to them.

Fortunately, one basic introduction works for pretty much every interaction:

  • Pick out the person or people you want to introduce yourself to.
  • Approach with a smile and extend your hand, offering a handshake. If there are multiple people, offer it to the closest.
  • Say “Hi there” or “Excuse me,” as seems appropriate to you. Continue “My name’s [name]. I thought I should come over and introduce myself.”
  • From this point, offer a brief (no more than a sentence or two) explanation of your reason for contacting this person.
  • If they seem interested, offer your business card. Say “I don’t want to keep you here, but I’d love to get in touch after the conference.” Then move on, unless the conversation is really going well and everyone seems to want to prolong it.

With small situation variations, this basic framework will get you through pretty much every introduction you have to make.

Practice it often by introducing yourself to as many people as possible. You never know which contacts will turn out to be useful ones.

Tip 3 – Make Interesting Business Conversation

An introduction and exchange of business cards is the quickest conference interaction. Longer conversations usually happen at planned meetings, or at unstructured “mixer” type events where people are left to drift naturally into conversation.

Making good business conversation relies on staying focused: keep your comments relevant to whatever shared interests you and the other people in the conversation have. Avoid personal tangents, and don’t be afraid to wrap things up (with a business card handoff, if you haven’t made one yet) rather than letting the conversation drift into personal matters.

Exercise a few strategies for keeping conversations on-point:

  • Do the research. When you know you’re going to be meeting a particular person, spend some time reading up on his/her work and what the latest developments are. Use it to lead into the conversation.
  • Set time limits for yourself. You can also use them as a way of starting a conversation: “Give me two and a half minutes, and I think I can impress you here.”
  • Avoid talking about yourself. Ask questions that encourage other people to tell you more about themselves or their work instead. The only time you should mention your own business is in reference to how it relates to the other person’s interests (“It sounds like I might be able to help you with your project,” etc.)
  • Watch for negative body language: fidgeting, arms crossed tightly; feet pointing and body turning away from you. These are signs that the listener wants to be done with you.

There’s nothing wrong with a longer conversation if everyone seems interested in it — just be mindful of the fact that people do likely have networking needs of their own, and won’t be able to spend all day with you even if they want to. Trade business cards and arrange to meet or speak again soon, and move on.

Tip 4 – Mind Your Manners

Making a good impression is about more than your clothes and your handshake. Conferences have their own unique social rituals, and you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes:

  • Avoid using your cell phone in public spaces. Go back to the hotel room or find a quiet corner if you have to make a call. Try to avoid texting, checking e-mail, or using the web entirely, unless it’s an immediate business necessity.
  • Be mindful of meal times and schedules if you’re involved in any such planning. Carry plenty of cash, including small bills, so that you’re not the one struggling in any check-splitting scenario.
  • Ask before taking pictures, and be sparing with tags if you put them on Facebook. Most people will only want direct, flattering shots of themselves tagged — leave crowd shots alone, especially ones at the pool or some other area where people are less formally attired.
  • Brush your teeth after meals. This is more important than you think. Talking to people all day is a lot more fun when they don’t have bad breath.  If not possible chew gum for 5 minutes and then get rid of it or pop a breath mint.
  • Take it easy on drinks — usually no more than two a night. Alcohol can help you loosen up, but the end result tends to be babbling or worse, which is even more counter-productive than not saying anything at all.

Tip 5 – Follow Up

When it’s all said and done, it’s time to sort through your business cards and do some follow-ups:

  • In general, everyone that gave you their contact info should get at least a short note, unless you’re dealing with a truly massive volume of cards.
  • If it was a hosted event, send the hosts a thank-you note as well — this isn’t usually an issue at large business conferences, but if someone opened their house or business up to guests, they get a note.
  • People that you don’t have a specific interest in can just get a short e-mail along the lines of “Great talking to you at the conference. Drop me a line any time.”
  • Anyone you do have a particular business interest in should get a longer letter, thanking them for their time and offering to get in touch to talk about whatever proposal you have for them at greater length.

E-mail is the most typical method of following up these days, but don’t be afraid to pick the phone up and make a call if it’s an important contact or opportunity. Many people place greater significance on phone contact than e-mail, and it will help you stand out from others who might be sending follow-ups of their own

How to Approach an A-Lister at NMX


Attending NMX gives you the unique opportunity to meet the people who inspire you. I’ll never forget being at my first conference and getting to thank the people who inspired me to become a blogger. That kind of in-person connection just can’t be beat.

But these kind of meet and greets can be a little awkward for some people. I’ve actually overheard conversations between fans and a-listers that were downright cringe-worthy. So if you’re planning on saying hello to your heroes at our next show (and you should!), keep these tips in mind:

  • Be respectful of others’ time.

Whether you’re saying hello in the hall or standing up to ask a question during one of the sessions, keep in mind that there are others hoping to snap a moment of attention from a-listers as well. Be respect of this and keep your conversation or question short, especially when others are waiting. After all, you can always follow up after the event. Once you’ve made that initial in-person connection, it’s a lot easier to get a response via email or social media.

  • Introduce yourself, but avoid being salesy.

I’ve seen people so excited to meet their hero that they forget to introduce themselves at all. But even worse, I’ve seen people who introduce themselves for a solid five minutes. It’s important to have an elevator pitch, but someone you’re meeting for the first time didn’t ask for it. If someone is interested in your site, they’ll let you know. Otherwise, stay away from the hard sale and definitely don’t walk up to someone business card in hand unless you have a clear reason for giving it to them or, of course, if they ask for it.

  • Don’t overdo the gushing.

It can be exciting to meet someone who inspires you, and while it’s fine to be complimentary, it’s not okay to gush too much. It makes the other person really uncomfortable if you overdo it, and it can even come off as insincere if you aren’t careful. So try to contain your excitement! After all, a-listers are just people like anyone else.

  • Be polite to others in the group as well.

One major faux pas I see is a fan walking up to an a-lister to say hello and completely ignoring the other people in the group. It’s impolite to interrupt a conversation, but if you can break into the group politely, which is often the case at networking parties when the atmosphere is more casual, don’t be so rude as to not introduce yourself to the entire group. At NMX, everyone is an a-lister in some respect, so you’ll miss out if you have tunnel vision. It also makes you come off as a snob to others in the group because you’re essentially saying that they aren’t important enough to talk to.

  • Save the ask for later.

Once you’ve made an in-person connection with another person, it’s much easier to ask them for favors. People who are inaccessible otherwise might be happy to give you an interview, publish a guest post, or otherwise help you out in some way. However, be careful not to ask for too much or put the other person on the spot. It’s extremely awkward for someone to be relentlessly asking you for favors the second you’ve met.

Lastly, always keep in mind that even people who have tons of fans are, at the core, just people. Don’t be so nervous to talk to someone that you avoid saying hello at all. There are a few divas out there, like in any industry, but the vast majority of people who attend NMX (especially our speakers) are extremely nice and welcoming. They love meeting fans and colleagues, so don’t be shy – say hi!

You can’t meet your heroes if you aren’t at the event! Make sure you register today to avoid missing this opportunity of a lifetime.

13 Ways to Make Sure You Get Your Money’s Worth from Your Next Conference

conference session Have you ever been to an industry conference where you ponied up as much as a thousand dollars or more and the conference really sucked? Can I tell you something? Now, this may sting a little bit so do yourself a favor and strap on your big boy or girl pants and get ready. If it sucked, it was all your fault.

I know, I know. You didn’t book the speakers or schedule the keynotes. You weren’t in charge of the venue. You didn’t choose the subject matter. In fact, other than buying a ticket and showing up with your iPad and your fired up Twitter account, you had nothing to do with it, right?

Exactly my point.

I don’t care how much it cost you, how many people were there, where it was located, what venue it was in, who was speaking or what company it was run by. The success of that event for you is in direct proportion with the effort you put into it.

Here are the facts. You are thrown into a room with speakers that are oozing value and want to share it with you. Attendees that are there to learn are also scouring the place looking to meet new people within their industry. Vendors are paying a lot of money for a mere few minutes of your time just to show you what they do.

There are opportunities everywhere. If you missed them, you blew it.

But you don’t have to blow it next time. That’s what this article is about. It’s 13 of the best little bits of advice I have to give you to make sure your next conference is an overwhelming success. Whether I am there as an attendee or a speaker this is the mindset I have when I walk into that room. And this is why I always leave with more value than anyone else there. It works. Trust me.

1. Bring 25 Business Cards with You Each Day

No more. No less. I know this goes against conventional wisdom which states that you should bring two for every person within a 25 mile radius of the convention hall. Don’t. If you bring a lot of cards you are going to want to give them all out. That’s when you become that guy. You know that guy. The one handing out business cards as if he was dealing blackjack. Nobody likes that guy. Nobody respects that guy. And nobody remembers that guy. By bringing only 25 cards you are forced to seek out and create 25 quality relationships throughout each day. That means spending more than just a few minutes with someone. It means really discovering who they are. It means telling them something interesting about yourself instead of attempting to sell them. This is called building a relationship. Wouldn’t you rather have 25 new friends instead of 1,000 less business cards?

2. Eat Lunch in the Conference Center

I don’t care if you bring your lunch or go out and get something and bring it back. There is no eating outside of the convention center. Even if it’s a nice day. You aren’t likely to find a small empty table with one chair or a quiet corner that nobody else knows about inside which means you are going to have to sit with a bunch of strangers. It’s a great opportunity to stretch outside of your comfort zone and build a few new relationships.

3. Be Friends with the Ushers that Check You in at the Door.

You know those folks that stand in front of the door to check you in to each track? Well, believe it or not they are human beings! And they have cool stuff like feelings and personalities! Get to know each of them…sincerely. Be nice to them. Joke around with them. Have a little fun with them. Make them smile. The benefit? You will meet some nice people. And there may be a time or two where you are let in early or allowed into a sold out track while everyone else is turned away. Hey, friends hook each other up. Just be sincere. Like most people, they can smell a skunk a mile away.

4. Sit in the Front Row

If this were a concert you would knock over women and children to get to the front row. Yet at a conference, you tend to find the “safe” seat. The one towards the back with easy access to the exit. Instead, force yourself to sit in the front row for each track. Sitting in the front row assures that you aren’t going to drift into lala land, check your e-mail, play Angry Birds or partake in a host of other attention stealers while the speaker is talking. You have no choice but to be totally present. An active listener. You know…the reason you came here in the first place.

5. Clear Your Entire Schedule for the Week

A lot of stuff goes on during the week of the conference. Parties, keynotes and various after hours hangouts are as much a part of the conference as the tracks themselves. I once missed a really good keynote and networking party because I booked a speaking engagement well after the last track not realizing there would be some cool after hours stuff going on. I missed out. Trust me, it’s better to just clear your entire schedule and make room for anything that might come along.

6. Schedule Your Sessions One Day in Advance

The night before the first day, read through every track on the schedule. You can usually find them posted on the conference website. If not, get there at least an hour early. Pick the top two tracks you want to attend in each time slot for the first day only. Put them on your calendar by adding a 1 for your first choice and a 2 for your second. Make sure you include the track name, speaker and room number as well. If for some reason you either don’t like the track, it was cancelled or the room is full, head over to your second choice. At the end of the day just repeat by creating your schedule for the next day. Just be sure to only schedule one day at a time in case you catch a new speaker or subject matter that you now want to check out the next day.

7. Be the First to Ask a Question

Most tracks end in a Q&A session which tends to result in a blown opportunity for a majority of the room. I don’t get it. The speaker is likely someone that you have been hounding on Twitter for months in an attempt to get their attention and yet now that you have it the little voice in your head tells you not to get up and ask. Don’t listen. Being the first to ask a question gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself not only to the speaker but to a room full of like-minded people. If that doesn’t sell you, this might. A speaker’s biggest fear is that uncomfortable silence that comes after asking for questions and no one jumps out of their chair. A lot of speakers tend to reward those brave souls that step up first by giving away copies of their book or free admission into their programs. Free stuff is awesome.

8. Seek Out the People Running the Conference

Get to know the people behind the curtain. They are usually pretty awesome. Sometimes not, but in my experience, pretty awesome covers it. The reason I am writing this post is because I got to know a few of the people that ran BlogWorld and grew to really like them. I get the feeling that I’m one of their favorite people in the whole wide world as well. (The previous statement cannot be confirmed or denied at this time.) The only thing I would caution you with here is not to get to know them with the expectation of getting something in return. Life doesn’t work that way. Get to know them because they are cool people with a cool job. If you get some insight or a foot in the door along the way make sure that it is because they recognized that you have a lot of value to offer. Not because you’re a suck-up.

9. Don’t Tweet During the Tracks

I know this is not a very popular one. Sorry. I’ve watched too many people come to these things and stare at their Twitter screen waiting for the speaker to say something profound. And then spend the next few minutes trying to figure out a clever way to cram it into 140 characters. Ultimately they end up missing a bunch of other stuff that gets said in the meantime. Stop. Take good notes instead. Write down the good quotes and then during a break you can Tweet away. Sure, you may not be as timely as some others but more importantly you didn’t miss anything. Ultimately that’s what counts! Your Tweet only lasts for a few minutes. The knowledge you pick up by actually paying attention can last a heck of a lot longer.

10. Follow Each Speaker on Twitter

After each track, make sure you are following the speaker on Twitter and give them a shout out. Thank them by pointing out one solid thing that you picked up from them. First, it’s a nice thing to do. The speaker likes to know that they have reached their audience. Second, it’s a good way to get on their radar. Bonus points if you asked them a question during the Q&A so they recognize you when you Tweet them!

11. Visit and Speak with Every Single Vendor

The majority of these conferences have an area set aside for vendors to have a booth and pitch their wares. Most of us tend to stop by the booths with the best swag. But you’re not most people. Not anymore. Rather than just roaming around and stopping at one or two vendors, start at the beginning and visit each one. Don’t stop until you have talked to every single vendor. It will give you a chance to see what other companies are doing. Who knows, you might even find some synergy with a company that you normally would never have come across. Heck, you might even meet some cool people. And if all else fails, you’ll end up with a new wardrobe of free t-shirts and squeezy balls with someone else’s logo on it.

12. Get Yourself Interviewed

Often times you will see folks with cameras or podcasts looking to interview speakers and attendees. Pretty much anyone with half of a personality. Do whatever you can to get in front of them to be interviewed. I know, you aren’t camera material. Even more reason to get out there. It’s a great opportunity to practice being interviewed. It may even turn into a good promo piece for you! Free promotion! And who is going to turn down free promotion!?!?

13. Shut Off Any Work Related Stuff

Leading up to the conference make sure that you have any necessary systems in place that allow you to leave work behind for a few days. Don’t waste the time in between tracks distracted by work related e-mail or calls unless it’s an emergency. That time should be spent networking, visiting the vendors, going to the book signings, talking to speakers, meeting the people running the conference and all of the other stuff we have been talking about up until now. It’s a great opportunity and it’s only around for a few short days. Use your time wisely.

The easy part is done. Now comes the hard part. Actually doing it. Regardless of whether you are a newbie or an old pro at attending conferences, I challenge you to take each of these on and see what kind of results you get at your next conference.

Do you have any tips that help make the conferences you attend a big success? If so, leave them in the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going!

Official BWELA Party List


After a long, full day at the LACC, you’ve got to unwind, right? Networking with others, meeting new people, having a drink in person with “online friends”, it’s all part of what makes BWELA a great time! Below is the official list of Blog World & New Media Expo Parties and Mixers! Don’t forget your attendance badge and your dancin’ shoes!

Thursday - Networking Mixer @ ICON Ultra Lounge

Thursday, Nov. 3 – Networking Party & Mixer at ICON Ultra Lounge
1248 Figueroa Street (across from convention center)
Starts: 7pm | Ends: 10pm

This is a great way to connect and network with fellow attendees and speakers while you’re at BWELA. A nice, open space, great views of LA with two open patios and time to hang out and get acquainted.

Sponsored by: Heineken, Social Media Club, Verisign/.tv, U4RIK Vodka, and INTENTclick

Friday - Opening Night Party @ J Lounge

Friday, Nov. 4 – Opening Night Party at J Lounge
1119 South Olive Street
Starts: 7pm | Ends: 9pm

The opening night party is also a networking event, you can meet up, talk about your day and your favorite sessions, let your hair down and have some fun!

Sponsored by: Heineken, The Safe Cig, Digital LA, NewTek, textPlus, and U4RIK Vodka


Saturday - Closing Night Party @ The Belasco

Saturday, Nov 5 – Closing Night Party at The Belasco
1050 S. Hill Street
Starts: 730pm | Ends: 930pm

Aww, yeah! The night before it’s time to go home, we’re kickin’ it at The Belasco with our Closing Night Party! This is where you’ll make those final connections, say your “see ya next time’s” and unwind after a fabulous few days at BWELA!

Sponsored by: Heineken, Stickam, Dun & Bradstreet, and U4RIK Vodka

And don’t forget our Daily Networking Breakfasts in the Concourse Lobby at the Convention Center, which is a great way to start your days at BWELA, and our Exhibit Hall Networking Reception, on the Expo Floor too! Be sure to check out the grid regularly, as we’re always adding more information!

How Can Mom Bloggers Get the Most out of a Social Media Conference?


In preparation for the upcoming BlogWorld & New Media Expo, LA, the Global Influence Network asked their bloggers the following question:

“How can Mom Bloggers get the most out of attending a social media conference?”

The following is just an excerpt of the great advice given by the network bloggers:

1. Attitude is the key to getting the most out of a conference. Mom Bloggers should remember to be present themselves as professionals who are eager to learn and make solid connections with other attendees and the brands that are represented.
— Valerie Mitchell from Sweeps 4 Bloggers

2. Plan, Prepare and Participate
Plan ahead contact those you want to connect with prior to the conference set up meeting times, plan your days what you will attend, who you will meet, what your goals are etc. Have a PLAN prior to going.

Prepare- create a carry around schedule or use iPad, phone etc, bring business cards, bring a light weight tote to carry around during the day so you don’t have to return to your room multiple times.

Participate- Don’t sit back and wait for others to engage you, engage others by asking questions, join in the events, workshops, panels etc. Participate in social media while at the event tweet, facebook this will create contacts of others attending and may even get you invited to a few after parties by being noticed on social media platforms. Meet new people don’t stick with your same group of those you already know reach out new contacts will take you far”
— Trisha Novotny from 24/7 Moms

3. Mom Bloggers need to know, they are a business too. Just because you carry on conference calls while changing diapers or putting kids down for naps, doesn’t make you less of a business person. Go feeling like you are just as important and knowledgeable as the guy who sits at a desk all day and you will leave feeling confident and connected. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for contact information of someone you admire as well. The “big name bloggers” aren’t as intimidating as you think they are.
— Emily Vanek from Colorado Moms

4. To get the most out of a conference, I feel that a blogger has to enter with an open heart and mind. While I enjoy sessions, I know plenty of people who feel that the networking and connections are far better for their blogging careers.

I feel like there really is no “”wrong way”” to do it unless you close yourself to opportunity.

My one piece of advice at a conference is to be willing to say “”Yes!”” Say yes to opportunity and to experience. Say yes to meeting new people. Say yes to putting yourself out there.
— Lindsay Dianne from Running Scared

5. Network, network, network! Seminars can provide valuable ideas, events and goodie bags are fun, but the relationships forged via positive networking are powerful and offer long-lasting benefits. A drive-by card drop is okay, but connecting on a personal level with meaningful conversations can lead to wonderful friendships and create amazing synergy.
— Barb Webb from Rural Mom

6. After 10 years as a blogger and an attendee at numerous conferences, my biggest piece of advice for Mom Bloggers is to HAVE CONFIDENCE.

I see so many women attend conferences and end up shrinking into the background like wallflowers at a 7th grade dance. They think they have nothing to offer, that no one would want to talk to or connect with them, or even sit with them at lunch. And so they spend breaks in the bathroom or in their hotel room checking email, instead of taking the opportunity to seek out others.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that each of us has value and is an expert in some field. Sure, you may not know the first thing about SEO, but you have great relationships with brands or you’re able to think up authentic ways to engage your readers. The person next to you, despite her “”I’ve-got-it-all-together”” demeanor, may need the exact skills and expertise you offer.

So before you write yourself off as a nobody and waste your chance to connect with and help others, remind yourself of your value. Before you leave for the event, sit down and scratch out a list of your experience and skills, whether it’s the ability to write fresh content five times a week, or to take stunning photographs for your blog. Then go into the event looking for someone who needs what YOU have to offer.

Of course, it’s good to make a list of questions or topics you’d like more information about, too, but if you focus on helping others, I guarantee you’ll find your own answers, almost as a byproduct of the connections you make through reaching out.

You’re valuable. Don’t ever doubt that. Now go help someone. ”
— Lain Ehmann from 30 Minute Martha

7. Knowing what you want to get out of a social media conference before you go and having a plan to reach the goal you set is the key to getting the most out of any social media conference. If your goal is to network with other bloggers in general than you won’t want to miss the mingling opportunities. If you want to specifically meet up with a certain person then setting up a time to meet is essential because time will escape you!! If you are there to learn than you won’t want to miss the workshops. You don’t have to have a hard and fast schedule but if you walk into a conference without a plan you definitely will leave wondering where your weekend went. Time is the best thief!!
— Tia Yates from Tia Saving Cents

8. Conferences give you a chance to network in person with those you already know and stregthen those connections plus a chance to meet many more people in the social media community. The conferences also are a fabulous place to learn from the best of the best – make sure you take the time to attend talks and sessions and take notes. Along with learning you become inspired! There is nothing like gathering with a group of other social media people to get you motivated to keep going, try new things, and expand your horizons! PS – and it’s a lot of fun too!
Robyn Wright

9. The key to conferencing is networking. When you are socializing with your colleagues you learn so much as to how they do their business and you get the sense that you are not alone. Also, watching other Mom bloggers interact with brands is important.
— Lee Reyes-Fournier from Couple Dumb

10. By networking. You have to get out of your comfort shell from behind the computer and put yourself out there. If there is someone you admire introduce yourself. Likewise say hello to the person in the corner because chances are they are feeling exactly like you are. Find the meetups on twitter and facebook then meet up. Most importantly have a fantastic time!
— Kasandria Reasoner from Southern Bellas Ways to Save

What advice do you have to share?

Are You Overlooking Niche Networks?


Facebook and Twitter rule social networks. LinkedIn is definitely in the game too, and Google+ is certainly a contender. These are all general networks, though, and while they can bring you tons of traffic, don’t overlook what niche networks can do for you.  Sometimes, with just a fraction of the effort, you can get just as much traffic.


When you blog in a specific niche, like parenting or food, your most loyal readers are going to be niche superfans. Superfans, as I’m using the term, means people who live, eat, breathe the topic. They’re mom of the year, they’re obsessed with food, they’re the biggest fan of whatever your niche may be.

Superfans are always on the lookout for what’s hot and new. They use general social networks, but they also use niche networks to satisfy their need for information. By joining niche networks, you can more easily connect with these superfans. And once they know you exist? They’re extremely likely to become subscribers, even before they know if they like you as a blogger, simply because they want to read anything written about the topic. It’s up to you and your good content to keep them subscribed, but they’ve taken care of the hard part themselves.

Other Bloggers

Niche networks are also great for connecting with other bloggers in your field. You aren’t alone out there, and that’s a good thing. When you connect with other bloggers, you can start linking out to each other’s posts, promoting one another on more general social networks, guest posting for one another, and more.

It’s also a good way to get on the radars of a-listers in your niche. These are smaller networks where it is easier to get a response when attempting to contact an a-lister, or even just to get noticed by helping to promote what they post.

Some Niche Network Tips

Lastly, I wanted to go over a few tips for using niche networks. Keep in mind that this includes niche-specific bookmarking sites, niche-specific forums, and official fansites in some cases (like if you blog about a television show). Here’s how to make the best use of your time:

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. No matter what your niche, there are a lot of networks out there. Pick a few and be very active, not a dozen that you only visit once a week.
  • Use the same avatar across all networks. You want your fans from other places to be able to find you.
  • Stick to niche-specific stuff. If you’re on a football site, talk about your football blog, not other projects. On niche sites, you have to stay in the niche or people will start ignoring you.
  • Do more than just promote. Help people. If all you do is promote your own stuff, you’ll just come off as a spammer. In other words, treat a niche-specific network the same way you’d treat Facebook or Twitter. Don’t be a jerk.

For those of you out there who blog within a specific niche, I’m interested in your experiences with niche networks. I’ve found unexpected success with these sites – have you?

5 Golden Rules: Networking


This post is part of 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 5 Golden Rules. Make sure you check out the rest of the series for more awesome advice from bloggers around the world!

Blogging was once about throwing your words out there and hoping for the best. “If you build it, they will come,” you know, that type of thing. Hell, when I started blogging it was on LiveJournal and pretty much exclusively for my friends – I did not want other people reading my online journal, and I certainly did not know that this was a way to make money.

Today it’s a whole other game. If you write and nothing else, there’s a very, very, very slim chance that anyone will find your site or become a fan. Networking is crucial whether you’re blogging about growing your own tomatoes or posting funny picture of your cat. We network in person and online, both to find readers and to find JV partners. Without networking, it’s easy to become lost in the drivel of everything else on the Internet.

Networking is something that a lot of us still get wrong. Luckily there are no hard and fast rules about it! Unarguably, though, there are some ways to increase the effectiveness of your networking, so I’ve collected some of the best networkers out there to share their advice!

1. The Unmissable Secret of Long Term Blogging Success by Jade Craven – guest post for Problogger

Jade Craven is the queeen of networking. The queen. Seriously, someone get that girl a tiara. She always knows what’s going on at other people’s blogs, who should be on our radars as far as up-and-comers, and what posts we should be reading from others. Beyond that, she makes awesome things happen. She’s like a virtual match-maker for bloggers.

Jade is someone who challenges me in her awesomeness to be better. And I think that’s pretty much the best type of blogger out there.

But enough of my gushing. In this post, Jade dishes on all her networking secrets. Seriously, if you take no other networking advice, listen to Jade. From the post:

Imagine. You are craving an ice cream. You don’t have the time to go and buy the ice cream but then someone offers one because they instinctively know that it could help you right then. Now, imagine that you could help people find solutions that could save or earn them thousands of dollars. They’d be pretty darn grateful, right?

That’s what I do and it’s how you can get a lot of the big guns to view you as a peer in a short period of time.

To succeed at this you have to be good at reading between the lines.

While this post is a one of her many guest posts on Problogger, Jade has an equally awesome post about networking on her own blog called “Networking Secrets that A-Listers won’t Tell You About” and she also offers How To Network Fast, a course that covers the most important networking techniques. Make sure you check out Jade’s blog and follow her on Twitter @jadecraven.

2. Everybody Is Your Peer (or How To Connect With People) by Karol Gajda at Remarkably Extraordinary

What I like about Karol’s post is that he touches on a topic a lot of us forget – networking with people we consider to be our heroes doesn’t have to be hard or intimidating. From the post:

There are times in life when you may want to connect with somebody more “famous” than you. I mean famous relatively speaking. It could be a blogger, business person, government official, or even maybe just the hot girl/guy you see regularly at your local coffee shop.

The first thing you have to remember when you want to connect with anybody you admire is that we’re all human. You, me, and that person you want to connect with. Huge revelation, huh? 😉 Lesson #1: treat people like people, not like gods.

To read more from Karol, check out his blog, Remarkably Extraordinary, and follow him on Twitter @KarolGajda.

3. Do You Need New Friends? by Amy Parmenter at The ParmFarm

Amy was one of the people I was sad to miss while at BlogWorld this year (though I have listened to her presentation via virtual ticket since then and it was fabulous). In this post on The ParmFarm, she opens up a rather interesting discussion – do we really need more friends, when most of us aren’t even actively growing relationships with the ones we have already? From her post:

I’m not suggesting quantity over quality. When the world runs out of interesting compassionate people from whom I could learn a thing or two, I’ll be long gone.

But it occurs to me that I don’t even have the time I’d like to devote to my old friends, so why the need to make new ones??

To read Amy’s answer, head to the full post at The ParmFarm, and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter @parmfarm.

4. The Importance of Face-to-Face Conversations by Jill Felska at Pursuing Our Passion

We get so caught up in new media that we sometimes forget that its better to have coffee with your neighbor than DM him or her on Twitter. This post by Jill at Pursuing Our Passion is a great reminder to disconnect occasionally and do some face-to-face networking. Events like BlogWorld don’t happen every day, but I bet there are a number of people in your city who would love to meet with you in person. From the post:

This weekend my grandparents came to town and I did something I rarely do – disconnect. I wasn’t networking on Twitter, didn’t check up on friends via Facebook and ignored (for the most part) my cell phone and email. Except for the occasional FourSquare check-in, I was completely unplugged from the social space and plugged-in to real conversation. It was one of the best, most enlightening weekends I’ve had in a long time – and I have some wonderful grandparents and conversation to thank for that!

Thanks, Jill, for the reminder to get offline sometimes! You can read more from Jill and her fellow Passionista, Jenn, at Pursuing Our Passion, and don’t forget to follow the blog on Twitter @ChiPassionistas, @felska (Jill), and @jennkrenn (Jenn).

5. Communicate with Humans not Statistics by Raam Dev

More subscribers. More comments. More pageviews. Have you ever noticed that most bloggers (myself included) are seemingly obsessed with numbers? Heck, many of us even celebrate things like getting 300 “likes” on Facebook or reaching 1000 Twitter followers. And it’s not that stats aren’t important, but this post by Raam Dev is something we all need to here now and again – write for the person, not for the masses. Writes Raam:

If we have a thought provoking conversation with a friend, our messages and thoughts are freely passed between one another, right? Now lets say we want to have that same thought provoking conversation with ten million people. Do we change the message? Do we generalize and try to simplify it a little so everyone can understand? We have to, right?


By paying attention to those numbers and modifying the message (and this subconsciously happens more often than you may think!), you’re essentially removing the human aspect of communication. You’re no longer speaking to a human.

Networking allows us to connect with thousands of people on a daily basis, but let’s not forget to acknowledge the individual. This is one of the smartest posts I’ve read in a long time; head over to Raam’s blog to read more and follow him on Twitter @raamdev.

Before closing out this post, there’s one more awesome blogger I want to mention: Judy Helfand, who blogs for Webconsuls and at Judy’s Op-Ed (her personal blog). If you want a lesson on how to network with grace, just follow Judy around for a few days. She supports bloggers without asking anything in return. She always has a kind word on Twitter, regardless of the situation. At BlogWorld, she was one of the few people who took the time to hunt me down just to say hello, even for a few minutes, not because she wanted something from me. Judy is a one of the classiest people I’ve met through social media – if you aren’t already, follow her on Twitter @JudyHelfand.

This post is part of the 12 Days of Blogging Series. The 5 Golden Rules are:

You can also check out all of the posts in this series here: 12 Days of Blogging 2010

Introverted Networking: Party Crashing, Group Subversion, Social Survival Skills and TALKING TO GIRLS


by Jeremy Wright (CEO @ BNOTIONS.ca / Author @ http://nakeddating.tumblr.com)

ShyConferences are living, breathing organisms. They change year to year, and yet seem to maintain a core “ness”. They have personalities, social conventions, cliques and pacing. The SxSWness, for example, includes inserting yourself into groups, a focus on alcohol-fueled networking and a long history of waking up in the afternoon (which is fine since only first-years go to the sessions anyways).

BlogWorld’s “ness” is different. This is partly due to the locale being Las Vegas instead of Austin, but mostly because as an “organism” BWE is still young. As a result, much of the culture and social norms are still evolving.

In this (admittedly lengthy) post I’ll lay down some #science for you BWE (shorthand for BlogWorld Expo, Twitter #hashtaggery defined by #bwe10) first-timers. This post is specifically targeted at folk like yours truly who are introverts (either secretly or obviously).

BWE Social Norms

As an introvert, confidence often comes from knowing the social norms of a given situation or social group. When I don’t know anybody, don’t know how to act or I’m just flat out tired I can seem withdrawn, quiet or grumpy. If you’re anything like me, going into a situation (whether it’s a job interview, a first date or a conference), knowing the people, the norms and the expectations allows you to be just a bit more you. So, to help you out, here’s the braindump on how to surf the social wave that is BWE!

Note: If you’re ever unsure what to do, feel a bit lost, or just want to meet random people, shoot folk who are using the #bwe10 hashtag, or veterans like yours truly (@jeremywright) a tweet. People are almost always more helpful than you think they’ll be!

Braindump time! Here are 8 things that aren’t normal in normal life but are normal at BlogWorld:

  1. Introducing yourself with just your first name (vs a practiced schpiel)
  2. Waiting until someone asks for your business card to give it to them (like Chris (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/9-ways-to-rock-blog-world-expo/), I’m a big believer in only exchanging business cards if you expect to do business together, otherwise just follow each other on Twitter!)
  3. Having someone stop the conversation in order to send you an email, add you to twitter or tweet something you just said. Sad, but it’s become the norm to mix the online and offline worlds.
  4. Use “so what are you doing later?” (ahem, not in a creepy way…) as a means to get a group/individual to tag you along.
  5. Start an impromptu after party. Go with the flow if you get pulled in!
  6. Plan a very loose schedule (potential activities) and a firm schedule (appointments) so you can be free to float a bit more. Flexibility is sexy.
  7. Drag an unsuspecting n00b (that’s you!) along to a party, lunch, drinks, etc
  8. Walk up to your favourite social media douchebag celebrity and ask questions, hangout and be cool

In short, being introverted is totally normal and cool! #happydance!

That said, there are 4 key skills you’ll need if you’re going to go from vaguely functional introvert to the kind of introvert that throws parties, does #techkaraoke and has a suite at @LuxorLV named after them (okay that last one is on my #bucketlist):

  1. Jumping into a conversation
  2. Buying someone a drink
  3. Striking up a conversation with a girl
  4. Working a room

Jumping Into a Conversation

Let’s be honest, this is the hardest part. It’s like my grandma used to say: the hardest part of swimming is not sinking. Yeah, she was wise, grams was.

So here are the easiest steps:

  1. Find a physical spot: Groups tend to self-distribute (I found a mathematical formula for this, but even I’m not geeky enough to post it, heh), so the vast majority will automatically self-adjust once you stand about a foot beyond the group’s perimeter. Once it does, join the circle. Incidentally, this also works for dancing, but that’s for the advanced and really brave (read: drunk) geek.
  2. Make eye contact: Eye contact is your strongest weapon. It doesn’t require any words, doesn’t require you to do anything except look around the circle, and when someone makes eye contact don’t look away, just give a friendly nod.
  3. Dip your toe in: If you’re a funny person (and someone beside your mom has told you this), a quick quip will get you a laugh, and hence acceptance into the group. If you’re not, wait until you have something meaningful to say. If after 3-4 minutes nothing comes up, ask a question: “Where are you guys from?” “Are y’all here together?” “Wow, did anyone else forget to bring deodorant?” are all acceptable questions to get things going.

Now this assumes that the party isn’t too loud, that the group is fairly static, etc. If not, your task is harder, so you should make a “friend” (ideally someone that laughs at your deodorant jokes) and stick close. It’s less weird than it seems, unless you did (in fact) forget to bring deodorant! As a result, practice this at the convention center before you go to a party: once you’ve successfully gotten in 4-5 groups, you’ll be ready to try this on the big fish in a hostile environment!

Buying Someone a Drinktini

Okay, here’s the dirty little secret: want to talk to someone specific? Buy them a drink. There’s a social contract that they need to stick around to finish it. Note: this also means if someone buys you one, stick around to finish it.

The process for doing this is simple: say hi; then offer to buy them a drink (because yours is empty, you boozer); and then come back, be charming, make intermittent eye contact, entertain them, don’t stare

Note: Just like a first date (see: #nakeddating at http://nakeddating.tumblr.com), it’s impolite to roofie someone during a networking event.

Striking Up a Conversation With a Girl

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by writing a self-deprecating dating blog (http://nakeddating.tumblr.com) it’s that girls are scary and will eat your soul if you let them… or you’d think that’s what they did based on how scared guys can be of them!

If you’re like me, you were a total loser in high school, never felt confident, attractive, etc. It gets better, and what helps it get better is practice! So here’s your practice drill for the first party, if talking to girls is as hard for you as it was for me. You must successfully complete this drill 10 times in order to pass. Failure is not an option. Like yoda said: there is no try, there is only do. Or something. That line always sounded slightly off to me.

  1. Eye contact is good, staring (at any part of her) is bad… #veryverybad
  2. Be nice. Start out conversation with a compliment. “Love your sweater. It has a great style. Where did you get it? My sister’s birthday coming is coming up and I could check it out for her.” Instant nice guy!!! Then you are right into the let’s talk about family convo which is pretty easy. Start with asking if she has brothers or sisters. Don’t mock her cats (any girl wearing a sweater is bound to have cats). If she’s in a group, use the tips above!
  3. Buy her a drink, if necessary, per the above. Don’t assume most will want wine/spritzers/girly drinks. Some will want beer. Only attempt to mock a girly drink (typically contains “tini” in the name, with a fruit sound at the front of it) if you can do it in a cute/cheeky way (ie: if you get a frown, use #4!)
  4. Do not ask her if she plays WoW or Wii Fit (pretty pretty please) though Mario Party is entirely acceptable, as is Rock Band.
  5. It’s okay if the conversation lags a bit to just say, “Gawd! I am such a geek,” it will be endearing and good for a laugh (hers). And if you have said anything totally stupid in the last few minutes this expression is like a ‘get out of jail free card’. But only use it once per girl.
  6. Do not ask if she’s as nervous as you are (unless you can pull that off that confident awkward thing).
  7. Smile! Awkward, cute, cheeky grins are never, evar a bad thing.
  8. Be honest. Girls can smell guy bullshit from miles away. Seriously.

Beyond that? Talk louder, and treat conversation as a tennis match: don’t let the ball drop. And trust me, if this is at a party, running away is harder than it looks. And will end up on YouTube. And not in a good way. #learningfromexperience

Working a Room

If you’re an introvert, the very idea of working a room of 500 people is terrifying. So here’s the deal. Every room is actually a bunch of small groups, with folk flowing in between. So socially, you really only need to master 3 skills: entering/exiting/participating in groups, going with the flow of people throughout the room to get/give booze/go to the can/hurl over the side of the building if you messed up when talking to a girl and knowing when to arrive/leave.

When moving through the room, don’t move through groups: follow the existing flow of people. As you move along, make eye contact, smile, nod. If a group/person notices you, step out of the flow of people and say hi. Otherwise find a group that looks small/big enough for you, and follow the tips above. Rinse, repeat.

Don’t feel you need to “touch” every group. If you nail 10 ish groups, you’ve done well. If you actually have convos with 5 of those groups, even better.

Be Thou Unafraid

Dirty little secret: if you’re a first timer, there are more new people at BWE this year than there are veterans. Social media folk, especially introverts or people around for the first time are like camels: they’re more scared of you than you are of them. So be nice, be friendly and say hi. And if you get lost, ask for help on Twitter. It’s like your own Easy Button (ahem)!

Take it from an introvert: it sucks, it’s scary, but the friendship, relationships, laughter and networking are more than worth the risk!

Image Source

Do You Want to Date my Avatar?


A set-up to this video, if you aren’t a major geek like me: The Guild is a web series about a group of socially-awkward people who play a role-playing game together online. It tells the story of how they went from being online-only friends to friends in real life.

I have a point to make here, I promise, though it’s always a good day when I can write a post that references one of the totally geeky things I love, like The Guild.

The whole show centers around how weird it is to take online relationships to the real world. It’s something that’s definitely a concern for bloggers, just like it was a concern for the online gamers in this show. You might love to “date” my avatar, but will you love me in real life too? That is, you may love the blogger personality on my website, but the real me is…complicated.

And that’s true of anyone, no matter how “real” you are with your readers. Someone who visits your blog only gets to see a certain side of you. You could be the most open and honest blogger in the world, but until you have face-to-face interaction with readers, they’re only dating your avatar.

While you can be a very successful blogger with just an avatar connection to readers, what I want you to take away from this post is the fact that you’re going to make a much, much stronger connection to people if you get out there and do some face-to-face networking. If BlogWorld isn’t a possibility for you this year, start small with local business groups or smaller events that are in your budget. Just get out there and meet people in any way you can!

A great way to transition into this is to do some consulting or webinars with your readers. You’re still behind a computer screen, but you’re actually talking to people, so it feels more “real life.” The goal here is to get people to know you. I always feel more connected to people who have offered webinars in the past. They’re just more real to me. Videos do the same thing, so if you’re comfortable talking to your webcam, do some recordings instead of only posting text.

The line from that video that I think is most important is:

If you think that I’m not the one, log off, log off, and we’ll be done.

That’s exactly what happens when you’re nothing more than an avatar to people. With no real-world connection, it’s harder for someone to remember you. It’s pretty easy for me to say, “Meh, I don’t have time to read Blog X today, so I’ll just skip it. Maybe tomorrow.” When I feel like I know the person though, either through a real-life connection or through their videos and webinars, I feel…well, almost obligated to support them through reading their blog posts or buying their products. I’m in their circle of friends.

That’s how you want you readers to feel – like they’re in your circle of friends. It’s impossible to have a deep personal connection with every single reader, but do what you can to be approachable and available in real life. Sure, I’ll date your avatar…but I want a long-term commitment with someone real, not a figurehead.

Getting Readers to Love Your Link Love


Link love makes the blogging world go ’round. It’s really a form of social networking within your blog post. After all, if I see that someone linked me in one of their blog posts, I’m likely going to stop by their site and leave a comment, even if we aren’t friends.

There’s no wrong way to include link love in a post per se…but there are definitely ways that are more effective than others. If you want to show some appreciation for blog posts you love, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be conscious of SEO techniques. Basically, this boils down to linking using a keyword phrase that relates to their site or article, rather than the words “click here” or something otherwise unrelated. Think about the phrases you’d type into Google to get to the page you’re linking. Those are the words you should use when creating the link in your post.
  • Remember that titles aren’t always descriptive. The whole point of link love is to get readers to click through to other sites. If you use the title of the post as the anchor text for your link, include a bit of a description to go along with the link, unless the title is extremely straightforward. This may seem like Blogging 101, but I can’t tell you how many lists of links I’ve come across that don’t have any description whatsoever.
  • Spread out the link love. Your most faithful readers will pretty quickly come to realize which bloggers you personally enjoy, since you’ll likely mention them most often. There’s nothing wrong with promoting your friends and the blogs you like, but take some time to research other opinions on topics as well. Sometimes no-name bloggers have really interesting ideas! Try to link to a variety of people – friends, gurus in your niche, new bloggers, etc.
  • Have a theme for a link love list. Some people like to do weekly round-ups. That can be a great resource for your readers – but try to have some kind of theme, especially if you write in a very broad niche. Otherwise, it becomes an issue of why you’re including links from some blogs and not others.
  • Build a blog on more than just link lists. As much as I love link love, your readers want to hear your ideas too. Using links as a starting off point for blog posts works really well, but avoid posting only lists of links. If you find yourself scrambling to come up with post topics, maybe you need to rethink your niche.

Link, link, link. It’s called the “web” for a reasons. This series of tube wouldn’t work if no one linked to other blogs. Although you do want to keep people on your own site has much as possible, if you create a site that only references itself, you’ll be missing a lot of opportunities out there to provide your readers with the best information possible.

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