How to Network (When You Can’t Attend In-Person Events)

shutterstock_181389512

When it comes to blogging, there's a lot of advice out there about networking. Most of it focuses on the in-person kind (parties, meetups, hangouts, lunches, etc.), but that's not always an option. Sometimes, your only choice is to network remotely. That can be for a variety of reasons – from social anxiety to physical disability to just living in a part of the country where no one else in your industry happens to be. But even if it seems impossible or difficult, you can network too. You just have to go about things a little differently. Please note, this isn't the quick and easy guide to networking. It's hard to cultivate meaningful relationships instantaneously. But if you're interested in the long game, this post for you.

3 Ways to Network when In-Person Isn't an Option:

E-mail.

I know you're thinking this sounds obvious, right? But it's incredibly important. This kind of networking doesn't mean emailing people to ask if they'll talk about your blog (that's a pitch). Instead, you want to use email to introduce yourself and plant the seed for a connection that may blossom years down the line. Give your name (again, it sounds obvious, but don't assume people will just know who you are). Explain why you're getting in touch (have you met before? do you read their blog? do you have a tip that can help them?). Then follow-up. Regularly. Don't pester, but when you come across something this person may be interested in, send it along. Once again, it's really important that your first email not be a pitch (i.e. a request for a favor or coverage). Rather, focus on finding common ground, and, just as with in-person networking, allow things to develop organically from there.

Social Media.

Yes, I know this seems obvious too, but stay with me! Social media is awesome for both staying in touch with people and making new contacts. While many bloggers recommend LinkedIn as a networking platform, I prefer using Twitter. Not only is it informal, I also believe it's more conducive to conversation. One great way to get started (and something every fashion blogger should be doing anyway) is building Twitter lists of people you're interested in connecting with. When the people on your list tweet something interesting or noteworthy, share it. Or tell them you enjoyed it. Note: this isn't a “tit for tat” thing. You shouldn't expect a follow or even necessarily a response. The goal is to start building that connection, and, in doing so, create an opportunity for more contact later on. As with email, it's important that your first tweet isn't a pitch or a request for a favor (no asking people to RT you or visit your blog, for example). Nothing turns off a potential networking contact faster, and it's hard to go back once that happens. Instead, be demonstrative with your support and look for organic openings to have a conversation. And while I'm focusing on Twitter, the same advice applies to Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram as well.

Blog Comments.

Some experts believe that blog comments are on their way out, but they're still a viable way of networking and building a budding professional relationship. While I can't speak for every blogger, I definitely notice when the same name or email address appears in the comments section of my site, and it makes an impression on me when those individuals take the time to share honest insight, advice, and feedback. Without even using the word “networking,” they've built a relationship with me, and I'm more likely to notice if they send me an email or approach me via Twitter. If you can start a genuine conversation with a blogger in their comments section, it's easy to segue that interaction onto another medium. But, of course, you have to be genuine.

As a quick aside, most of the bloggers I'm in contact with now are people I first met through social media. As a niche blogger who lives in Seattle, I don't have the same access to in-person networking events that many of my colleagues do. And that access is further undermined by my own introvert tendencies. I've found that it's easier for me to introduce myself and be helpful to other bloggers…as opposed to selling myself aggressively in their comments section or via Twitter. People can tell when you're interested in them vs. when you're interested in what you can get out of them. Strive to be the former, and you'll go much farther.

What are your remote networking tips? How do you stay in touch with people or foster new relationships when you can't see them in-person?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

16 Responses

  1. Hayfa

    Thank you Cora for the insightful article. I am a new blogger and started discovering more efficient ways to build my network and connections. I agree with you that I found twitter so far to be the best and most mature social media platform to introduce yourself and even network with big companies via relatively tagging the tweets. My second favorite is Instagram, thanks to hashtags and ‘only photos’ where you can share your experiences without the need to write. Pinterest also started growing on me but I do feel that people are more interested there in the pins rather than knowing about you.

    Blog comments and interactions with other bloggers are very important. However, mostly bloggers with similar blog size (in terms of followers) only return the visits and comment. But you can easily spot people with genuine comments who have something else to say rather than just nice this, nice that with their blog link. These people are inviting and the ones I usually visit their sites.

    Reply
  2. Monika Faulkner

    The whole “networking” thing has been a little anxiety-provoking for me, dear Cora; for reasons very similar to your own challenges!! Good to know that it’s possible to network successfully even without the face-to-face contact…thank you for the tips (and the reassurance!!)

    http://www.StyleIsMyPudding.com

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Coyle

    You’re right, these ARE obvious tips, but that’s because they work! After I do the whole “blog crush” thing – i.e. stalk the blogger down, email then, tweet them, etc… I make sure to add them to my must-reads Feedly or Bloglovin’ list after a connection is formed. Then every time they post something new, it’s a great reminder in my RSS inbox to pop over and say hi. Great post!

    Reply
  4. Chelsea Morse

    I grew up in Seattle and just moved to Dubai! I love your advice. Great blog. I’m starting a blog of my own. Lastpaire.com. Thanks to you for all the help. <3 Seattle

    Reply
  5. Anastasia

    So good you touched this point!
    I faced with this problem after I moved to live to another country and right now my traffic comes form very different countries and cities. So the only thing left for me to do now is to keep in touch in terms of remote networking. Facebook so far is the best tool, but I do my best to search new ways….

    xx

    Anastasia

    http://fashionpeekaboo.com

    Reply
  6. Maggie A

    I’ve been able to build a few relationships with bloggers via constantly leaving comments on their page. At first I was surprised when they would respond to my comments but then I realized those were obviously the bloggers who cared about the content they put out and the readers.

    I’m definitely a believer in the comments although a lot of patience must be mustered because it gets pretty tedious pretty fast.

    Be sure to check out my blog.

    xo
    Maggie A
    LOVEMAVIN/YOUTUBE || LOVE MAVIN/BLOG

    Reply
  7. Elena

    I built great relationship with bloggers thanks to Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I can’t remember people that I met at the event ( because it’s just the basic 3 minutes conversation) until we connect via social media:)
    http://dcinstyle.com

    Reply
  8. Lauren

    This article is really helpful. I do a great deal of remote networking because I like speaking with people. I found LinkedIn to be really helpful. The LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage in conversation, and connect with like-minded professionals. Occasionally, you will connect with someone who has “owner” or “founder” as their title. My advise is to check out their website, and if it interests you, shoot them an e-mail and introduce yourself. I agree that pitching to someone within the first few e-mails can really turn them off.

    Reply
  9. Krystle The Label

    I’ve recently stubbled across this site and been reading a few of the postings here on ifb. Many of the articles have been a great read so far. As an introverted blogger, I feel as though I can truly leave with some helpful tips to use especially when it comes to networking whether it’s in person or on social media. So thank you!

    Reply
  10. Maya

    This has been an incredibly useful post! I’ve noticed after 1,5 year of blogging that while my contacts with people I’ve met in my own country on blogging events has grown. The relationship with people I’ve met online has dwindled. Mainly because both sides have lost touch somewhere along the way. I think I can apply the techniques I use on Twitter to connect to people I’ve met on events on the people who’s blog I like 🙂 thanks for the input!

    Reply
  11. Nick Borunda

    This type of networking has always been a struggle to me and I will try to use your advice more often. 🙂

    Reply
  12. LaRuth

    This post is informative and super helpful! I’m new to blogging, having stepped away from the News Room, and you’re right, it’s easy to forget these simple steps you’ve mentioned. Duly noted. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Altynay

    Thank you for your advice. I definitely have problems with it. I’m always waiting from everyone to make the first step and that’s my biggest problem. Also, I am the lucky one who is always invited to all fashion events in my city but I am not using this opportunity to start new contacts. I am too shy to start a conversation with designers or authors, I always think that my blog isn’t popular too much to start doing collaborations even though I have 3k+ instagram followers and about 3000k followers on tumblr. I should overcome it somehow, so thanks for your article once again.

    Reply
  14. Sabina @Oceanblue Style

    If it works well It feels like I am the one to share advice but if it does not…well I hop over here to read some of yours! Of course I follow up, share useful tips and links, have been building a regular blog visit circular and am part of an 40+fashioblogger network. But it takes a lot of time and found your details here, what to expect or how to tread lightly extremely useful. Thank you! Sabina | Oceanblue Style

    Reply