In this article, I won’t talk about how to network. There are great articles out there about that subject. Here are two that have helped me.
Ahmed just wrote a great article about 3 ways to immediately improve your networking skills. Also, check out Caroline Middlebrook’s 7 Ways to Connect With People in Your Niche.
Networking is becoming more important in link building because the web is more socially oriented than before. Also, webmasters are much less likely to give links away for free. Many webmasters today know about SEO and link building. They’re hesitant to freely link to a competing site. Unless you’re a friend or have cash, it’s hard to get links these days especially from quality sites. And cash is losing it’s effectiveness, because Google’s been cracking down on paid links. Many sites are cutting down on selling links.
But the biggest reason networking helps is because it forces you to focus on other people. Quality networking means taking time to know your contacts. Follow their blogs for awhile. Read their posts. Find out which subniches they’re passionate about. Find out which topics they would like to learn more about.
Through networking, you can figure out what your contacts want.
Get Those Links
After you’ve taken time to follow certain bloggers, here are some ways to leverage your contacts and get some links.
Quality guest posting is about writing posts that fit well on another person’s blog. Here are two ways to do this: elaboration and filling in a gap.
Elaboration is writing guest posts that riff off the posts already on the guest blog. You see this well with the Copyblogger guest authors. In their posts, they frequently link to other posts on Copyblogger. Check out the last three guest posts: 1, 2, 3. This shows that not only do they know their stuff but they can connect it to previous content. Integration adds value to any blog and added value is what quality bloggers are looking for.
Filling in a gap is writing posts about a subtopic that’s not covered very well on the guest blog. I write for an online business blog. Some time back I wrote a post about not being an expert in PPC. A PPC blogger emailed recently referring to my post. He offered to write guest posts about PPC. I gladly took his offer.
How do you get a blogger to publish your guest post? John Chow has good advice on this point:
Getting your post onto a big blog can not only give you a lot of credibility, it can also send you a lot of traffic. The bigger blogs generally are quite fussy about the type of guest posts they will accept. They’re looking for quality that is on the same level as their posts. You should only send your best work.
I get bloggers emailing me about guest posting all the time. The best way to get a post onto John Chow dot Com is to email me the full post. Don’t send me an email asking me to reply if I want to read the post. I won’t. Just send the full post and I’ll read it and decide if it should be posted.
Well-known, quality bloggers get a lot of emails. Instead of playing email tag, email them with a short introduction of yourself and include your full guest post. If they like it and it fits their blog, they’ll publish it.
Finally, don’t forget to insert an author box at the end of your post.
Promote Your Best Content
Many bloggers like to link out. They like to link to good content and they like to link to friends. So, create a post or information product that your contacts would enjoy and find useful. Then, email them and point them to your content. I don’t generally ask for a link. I write something like: “I just wrote this post and I thought you and your readers would find it useful. Feel free to offer feedback.” If your content is good enough, you’ll get a link.
If you have a quality product, don’t be afraid to give out free copies to high profile bloggers. They will often give you a positive review, which will lead to many sales.
One disclaimer: don’t overdo promotion. There’s a fine line between spam and promotion. I like what 45n5 says:
Never email somebody more than once (twice max) per month for promoting your content.
Unless you know a blogger really well, try not to promote more than one thing a month.
Interviews work well if you have good questions. And a way to come up with good questions is to know the interviewee well. As you network, you’ll get to know some interesting bloggers in your niche. Interview the high profile ones. Ask them questions that allow them to talk about what makes them interesting – their passions, unique stories, expertise, and accomplishments.
With great interviews, oftentimes the interviewee will link to you and tell his friends about it. This leads to many other quality links.
How have you used networking to get quality links? What are some other ways networking helps in building links?