Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Butcher, The Baker, The Blogger ~ Networking 101

The Butcher, Baker, Blogger series is becoming a monthly habit with me. This month, the 3rd month anniversary of the Food Bloggers Network, I'd like to talk a bit about networking. Now, I don't claim to be some sort of networking guru, but I've noticed over the years that many people either don't recognize the value of networking or don't really understand how to do the work inherent in networking.

Yes, networking is work

What does networking mean to you? I believe the best definition of networking is the following: "a process where you develop long term relationships with others for mutual benefit."

Many people think that the introduction is the important part. They show up at a networking event or join a networking group and then think, "OK, someone will come up and talk to me or email me." But that doesn't involve the work part of networking. The introduction is only the first step. The follow-up is what turns the introduction into the long term relationship.

Let's take a look at three hypothetical bloggers: A, B, and C. All three join the Food Bloggers Network. Blogger A joins, never posts an introduction, doesn't update the Member Listing, and rarely joins in the conversation. Blogger A will not find much value in the group because no one knows who Blogger A or what he/she is all about. It's as if Blogger A doesn't exist because no work is being accomplished. Blogger B doesn't post an introduction, but does update the member listing and sometimes joins in the conversation. Maybe there will be some interactions, and it's better than Blogger A, but Blogger B is only putting in a minimum amount of work. Now let's talk about Blogger C. Blogger C posts an introduction that lets people know who he/she is. Blogger C not only updates their member listing, but goes through the list,  follows the other members on their Twitter or Facebook pages, and says something such as, "hello - I found your page through FBN. I'm looking forward to connecting." During the week Blogger C contributes in well-reasoned and thoughtful ways to the questions being raised as well as asking their own questions when appropriate. Now we're getting somewhere! Blogger C is working the networking.

Turning On the Work vs. Turning Off the Networker 

I should start this section by saying I've never personally seen a Food Bloggers Network member make the following mistakes.

It is absolutely critical to maintain a well-defined balance between being involved and being pushy. The vast majority of reasonable people instantly recognize that there is a difference between following people and spamming. But a small minority of folks I meet are under the misapprehension that if they list their blog on everything they do you'll be enthralled and become an instant convert and proselytizer to their cause. There is a big difference between saying, "hi! I'm pleased to meet you!" and "hi! I'm pleased to meet you! Since you clearly think I'm the most awesome thing in the world, you should follow me at themostamazingblogever.com."

Yeeeaaah... nooooo.... I was just saying hi... but thanks.

Say hello. Be normal. Be natural. When someone tweets you about a great instagram pic you posted say, "thank you!" not "thank you! You should read the post here: themostamazingpostever.com."

Yeeeaaaah.... noooo..... I was just complimenting you... but thanks.

Picture it differently. Let's say you went to a cocktail party and were introduced to your host's friend, "Oh hi, I'm Jessica. I'm also friends with Jane; nice to meet you!" Which would you respond with: A) "Hi! I'm Sally. Isn't Jane great? How did you meet her?" or would you say B) "Hi! I'm Sally. I sell a product. You should buy my product."

Big difference, right? Even though you're working, it needs to grow naturally through a long term relationship leading to mutual benefit. The sentence after "hello" is not a long term relationship. You have to work the network to build the network.

It's called Social Media, not Robot Media

While we're on the subject of networking please, please don't install bots and if you use them - stop it. Right now. Go uninstall them. Why? Well, let's consider the subject:

Raise your hand if you've ever followed someone on twitter, received an auto-reply saying, "I'm looking forward to teaching you great cooking tips! Follow me at themostamazingblogever.com!" and then, this is the kicker - actually clicked through and followed that person.

No? You didn't?

Me neither.

Why not? Because it's really annoying. If I like what you have to say (the 3 C's of good blogging: content, content, content) I'll follow your page. But if I'm just checking you out and you start off as lacking authenticity? Well, it gets you unfollowed pretty damn quick.

Even worse? Following someone just to get followed and then having your bot unfollow them. Did you follow that? I've noticed a new trend where I'll get followed, go to the person's twitter page to check them out and think, "yes, I could get down with what you're saying." I click follow and their follow count instantly tabs up one while their following count instantly tabs down one. Wait? Did I just see you unfollow me before my very eyes? Man, you didn't even give me a chance to be witty or creative! Just, "you are the weakest link - goodbye!" Do you really think I'm going to continue following you after that or even have a good opinion of you?

Yeeeeah.... noooooo..... but thanks for trying to trick me into inflating your follow numbers.

The Moral of the Networking Story

There is a lot more I could say about networking and working the work, but I've leave off here for now. The moral of the tale of networking is this: be yourself. Be genuine. Be sincere. Be active. Be proactive. Be helpful to others. That is how you build a network of individuals who will, over time, want to help you succeed.


And to my Food Bloggers Network members & friends - thank you for sticking with me on this ride. Happy 3 months.

36 comments:

  1. Great post. I agree wholeheartedly. Now follow my blog at yaddayaddayadda... just kidding! :)

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  2. Jessica, thanks for being the one to always tell the truth! The phony's do get weeded out pretty fast in the big scheme of things. I've found it's so much more productive to focus on a few networking/posting elements and just let the rest go. Oh and did you see my superawesomeyoujustcantlivewithouritbecauseImadeit post? hehe

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    1. Thanks Joan! I've been "working" at networking since 2003 (at least) and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt I was able to secure my 3 most "life changing" (for better or worse, sometimes!) career moves because of networking.

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  3. Great post on networking! I love your posts about blogging, networking and I hope you do make it a monthly habit because it's very inspirational. I'm going to bookmark this post because I know I'm not working the network as maybe I should and could.

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    1. Thank you Laura! Pop in whenever you want, we're always happy to hear from you.

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  4. Thanks for another great post Jessica. You may start off by saying you aren't an expert, but I would disagree. You three posts have been informative and well researched and beautifully spoken (written). You are a gem and happy 3 months food blogger network!

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  5. Thanks, this was a really interesting and must useful post, especially for someone who's quite a novice at this blogging business!! Moo x

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    1. Thanks Moo! I'm very happy you found it helpful. Come join us if you are interested in doing so. We'd love to have you!

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    2. Hello everyone I am new to this, I am in Culinary school and everyone says you should have a blog and post your stuff... I have no idea where to begin...in need of a mentor!!

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  6. Well said Jessica. You can tell the ones that just swoop in to drop off their "business card" and then move on. Those are the ones quickly forgotten.

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    1. Absolutely! I so value all of the "gems" I've met through FBN!

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  7. Great post! I completely agree with everything you've written here. It's so important to be genuine - even through the computer, it's obvious with its not. I'm thrilled to be part of FBN and have gotten so much out of it.

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  8. Great post.... I'm proud to be an FBNer :)

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  10. Great content Jessica and I love that you have taken your time to put this in writing. I find too many bloggers, especially when they are first starting, scrambling to be everyone but themselves. Even in writing a person can come across as being too much. Thanks for a great article and I love being a part of the FBN group. I have learned so much!

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    1. That is a very apt description: "everyone but themselves." Thanks Sherron!

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  11. Best.Blog Post.EVER!!!

    I believe many people do not understand what networking actually is. Then there are those who just want to get their numbers up so they can get paid sponsors. When you do it for the money, it never works. When you do it for the love of doing it, the money will follow. I must figure out how to reblog this! BTW, What is the Food Bloggers Network?

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    1. Thanks Kelli! I will send you a PM with info. :)

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  12. So true! And all these bots are getting annoying. It's so fake and canned.

    I'm glad to be part of the FBN and look forward to putting in the "work." :)

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  13. I love reading your posts; they're always so informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing, Jess.

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  14. Happy 3 months yourself! I always worry about the line between networking and being pushy - it's funny I thought about going through and following everyone in the FBN, but was worried that would look pushy!

    But you're so right, networking is definitely WORK. Or, well, it takes a lot of time, at any rate.

    So now that I've commented on your blog, how about you comment on mine? (KIDDING :)

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    1. Hey Sasha - definitely go through and follow people on twitter and facebook - it makes a big difference. Introduce yourself as a co-member and you'll probably get a better response. :D

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  15. Great post! While I have connected with many new friends by making comments on their blogs and responding to theirs on mine in this last year of blogging, Food Bloggers Network has been an enormous resource for information and exchange. (And friendship!) It's been like finding a home on the internet. Many thanks for starting it up.

    Stacy

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    1. Hi Stacy! I'm so pleased you're enjoying FBN. I absolutely agree that commenting on blogs makes a big difference.

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  16. Great post on networking, Jess! Very true about the bots! Horribly annoying.

    Here's to 3 months! Cheers!

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  17. As somebody who's trying to keep up but at times reads more than she can comment, I know exactly where you're coming from. Thank you so much for bringing "Food Blogger Network" into being!

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    1. For that very reason (time constraints) I highly recommend one pick a handful of things and stick w/ them rather than spreading oneself too thin.

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  18. Thanks for this--I realize I'm most like Blogger B...I read and comment when I have time, but it's hard balancing work, family, blogging, networking, and trying to sleep! It's something I (and probably a lot of other bloggers out there) am working on. I'm finding a tremendous amount of info (as well as new blogs & inspiration) from the Food Blogger Network!

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    1. I agree that it's a lot of work and can be tremendously difficult. I definitely struggle with it myself. One step at a time. :)

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  19. Very interesting post. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

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  20. Great post Jessica! I admit that I don't follow everyone on every social media opportunity,but I try to hit a least one on facebook, twitter,foodbuzz and other blog networks. I recently switched to my own site and lost quite a few followers. So I'm trying to get back on the horse the right way! Thanks for the insight! Cindy

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  21. Hi Jessica, Thank you for writing about this topic. I have a background in sales and these lessons would apply under that context as well, as a good portion of sales people don't know how to network properly.

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  22. Great thoughts and so true. I need to be better with the Food Bloggers Network.

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  23. Happy 3 Months Jessica. I am so happy and proud to be a member. I think you're attitude about networking is bang on.

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  24. Happy 3 month anniversary! Thanks, Jess, for all your hard work...FBN is an amazingly helpful resource!!!

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