I ran into some creative friends at a boutique opening yesterday, and it got me to thinking about the connections I’ve made over the years thanks to my blog. One of the things that I love most about blogging is the sense of community that can come from it. I’ve been doing it for almost 8 years now, and because of the way that I positioned myself with my blog (I’m a blogger, but I’m also viewed as media, which are 2 totally different things), I’ve not only been able to go to some amazing events, but I’ve been able to build real relationships with fellow creatives as well. Blogging can be a lonely job because you spend so much time (alone) on your computer, and if you’re not careful, you can become so engrossed with posting to your site and social channels that you can alienate others and miss out on the experiences that can come from it.
A LOT of bloggers having sparkling personalities online but are socially awkward (and sometimes just plain rude) in person, which can be off putting to readers, creative friends and collaborators. It’s sooo important to be the same person on and offline, because in the long run, if you’re trying to use your platform for something bigger, this is key to building relationships. Word travels fast, and if you’re going to events and not being social or nice, you can miss out on potential connections and opportunities.
One of the key reasons that I have been able to do so many things at a local level is because you will always meet the person that you see on the blog. I’m the same at all times, so if I don’t feel well or don’t really want to go somewhere then I don’t, because I’d never want to ruin my relationships with people because *I* was having a bad day. Now, I’m not fake when I meet people (because if I don’t care for you, I will be cordial if we cross paths because we’re at a public event but that’s about it), but I’m always open and friendly, and I try to be helpful and/or connect people when I can. Your reputation is everything when working in this field, and I can’t tell you how many times people have been skipped over for something because they were deemed difficult to work with or not nice. Your personality will definitely get you through more doors.
True networking isn’t just showing up to an event, it’s about cultivating real relationships with people, so if you find yourself struggling to connect offline, I have a few tips that will help.
Be nice and speak to people.
Seriously. It’s not rocket science. Say hello to people when you arrive at events, smile, and spark up conversations when you can. You’re not trying to find your next bff, you’re simply trying to build your network, so keep a few ice breakers on hand. Blogging is still fairly new to people, so once they know that you have one they will typically ask you a few questions and your conversation will naturally flow from there.
Don’t make it all about work/your blog.
You’re a blogger but…what else? It used to be that you always had to have your 30-second elevator pitch ready for when you meet new people, but nowadays, being able to have conversations with beyond that is what REALLY builds those connections. You don’t have to tell your whole like story, lol. Just be personable.
Reach out for lunch or a coffee chat.
Whether you’re new to an area or there is a blogger or local brand that you’d like to work with, it never hurts to reach out to ask to meet for coffee or lunch. Shoot a quick email introducing yourself, with maybe a sentence or 2 about why you’re reaching out specifically to them and ask if they have any time to meet up for coffee or lunch soon. DO NOT ask to pick their brain about anything; that puts too much pressure on people, and can also be off putting if they’re someone that charges for that service (in which case, you should book that instead if that’s what you’re really trying to do).
Put down your phone and be present, at least for a bit.
Covering an event as a blogger is a given, but it doesn’t mean that you have to have your phone out the entire time. Get your shots, IG stories, etc., but also be approachable. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to post it AS SOON as it happens, so don’t be so engrossed in your phone that you forget to be present in the moment.
Follow-up after the event.
If you write a blog recap after an event, be sure to reach out to the host letting them know about it. If you met a potential new friend or blogging buddy, hit them up a few days later about getting together soon. It doesn’t have to be rushed, but finding little ways to stay connected with the people you meet will help you build up those connections both online and off.