There is a popular phrase in blogging that says “It’s not about you.” If you are going to have a profitable blog or business you know you have to think about your reader, audience, or customer. You must know them, know what problem you can solve for them, know what their needs are and what information they are searching for.
One way you can serve your readers well is by being well connected. You can build your authority both by offering solutions and by being able to point them to solutions that may be outside of your area of expertise. To do that, it is necessary that you network with those who are inside and outside of your niche.
Networking has many definitions, but for the purpose of this post, it means connections. It means meeting people and making connections, building relationships, finding common ground based on your shared interests, audiences or expertise, and serving them whenever possible.
Where do you find your network?
1. Homeschool Co-ops
If you are a homeschool blogger, you will find great connections in local homeschool co-ops and other educational events. Chances are you will have all kinds of great IRL (in real life) conversations about curriculums, learning styles, and educational resources, and probably also hear many questions about homeschooling. This is real life market research. These are the people you are trying to serve. How fabulous that you will be able to point them back to your blog or another blog that has the answer to their problem or question.
2. Homeschool Associations and Events
Associations, conferences and homeschool fairs are also great places to build relationships and network both for business and reader connections. Do they have a “newbie” booth at the event? Offer to volunteer. Are there sessions or meetings for complimentary niches? Go, meet some new people and make some new friends. You never know who may be your next business partner or most loyal follower.
I get questions all the time about a certain homeschool subject area that is not my strength. At the last homeschool conference I attended, I made it a point to seek out the vendors of curriculum in that subject area, and begin to establish relationships with them that will allow me to both help them reach my audience and help me meet that need for my readers. At the same conference I met a mom who had a question about something specific that I had experience with and I was able to give her some advice and point her to my blog and other’s where she can continue to learn about the topic.
3. Local Chamber of Conference
Your local Chamber of Commerce can be a wonderful place to build a network, find out about local associations, fairs, or home-based business associations. Get active in your local area. Attend sponsored events hosted by other businesses. Get to know others who are running their own businesses. Make it a point to learn from them. To partner with them. Perhaps there are services or social media education that you can provide to them as well and form great business partnerships.
Do you have a favorite hair salon? You could offer to trade social media services for haircuts with your local barber or hairdresser. Have a favorite restaurante that needs some pubicity help? Reach out to them with your marketing skills and offer to teach them.
I have heard it recommended that you attend one conference in your niche and one conference outside of your niche every year. Conferences take us briefly out of our routine to an environment filled with new people, new knowledge, and new opportunities to network. Your niche audience will overlap a bit with those of others, simply because no one person ever has only one interest. Having widely varied networks will broaden your point of view and experiences, allowing you to serve your audience better in the long run.
5. Online Groups and Forums
Social media is also a great place to network and build relationships with your target audience, with colleagues in your field, and with other brands or businesses. It’s not as personal as face to face, but definitely allows you a wider reach.
You want to be where your audience is to build relationships with them. Seek them out on social media. Do you have a preschool blog? Join the preschool and early childhood development facebook groups. Connect with daycare owners and preschool teachers on LinkedIn and Twitter. Don’t spam them, but be present and active in helping to answer questions and point them to resources.
It is also very important to learn from other business owners and leaders in your field by participating in educational and/or promotional groups for the purpose of building each other up. Facebook groups and Twitter chats are a given, but don’t forget the newer things like Meetup.com, state blogging groups, and membership sites like The Como Blog Connection that are designed for this purpose.
It seems so backwards, but serving others really is the best way to meet your own goals. Show your support for others and they will reciprocate in kind, and likely with advice and opportunities that also open new doors for you. Networking and connections is key and can be the launch pad to success for any business.
Katie Hornor is the founder of Como Blog, a bilingual education site for bloggers and online business owners, and the new Como Blog Connection, where you will find resources, connections and coaching to spur you on to reach your business dreams. Get info about The Connection and download the Free ebook 50 Powerful Tips for Successful Business Habits at Como Blog.