Are You Making Connecting with People Online Harder Than it Should Be?

Written by Corbett Barr

When someone asks what the fastest way to grow traffic to a website is, first I tell them they’re asking the wrong question.

Wanting to know the “fastest” or “easiest” way to do anything is a sure route to failure. The fastest route is the path sold to suckers with no patience for the actual process involved in creating real value.

Instead, let’s talk about the important components of building your online audience, or how other successful people have done it. Those are things worth talking about. A single formula doesn’t exist because every situation is different.

There is rarely a single “right way” to do something complicated, especially when it comes to growing a business online.

But I’m getting a little off topic here. What can I say, I’m a little punchy after entertaining my folks for a week while trying to finish everything up for the Traffic School launch.

OK, so if you were to ask me what the most important components of building a thriving online audience are, I’d always start with content. You have to write epic shit to succeed. We’ve covered that here quite a bit lately. Hopefully I’m not beating it to death.

Beside outstanding content, what else do you need to attract visitors?

You need strong differentiation, a great design and a killer brand.

Those are all foundational elements.

Then, once you have a strong foundation and killer content in place, you need to get the word out to your potential audience.

The people you want to reach already hang out somewhere online. They’re reading other websites and blogs, typing searches into Google, spending time on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Your job is to get in front of those people where they already spend time and bring them back to your site.

One of the best ways to get in front of lots of new qualified visitors is to get your site featured on other relevant websites and blogs.

This site gets thousands of visitors every month from sites like ViperChill, DIYThemes, Smart Passive Income Blog, Social Mouths and

How did Think Traffic get featured on these popular blogs?

It’s an easy formula:

  1. I consistently wrote the best content I could to establish a reputation
  2. I developed relationships with the bloggers behind each of those sites

Opportunities then grow naturally out of your reputation and relationships. I rarely if ever ask those guys directly for help in promoting anything here.

“But wait!” you might be asking. “That works for you because you’re already established. How do I make relationships with big names if I’m just starting out?”

Great question. You’re actually screwed because it’s too late. There’s too much competition now to join the club and get your site featured on other bigger sites.

Kidding. (did I have you going there?)

Here’s the thing that always blows me away about how some new bloggers think. They act as if “established” bloggers have always been that way. As if we were ordained some special place in the blogosphere back when the Internet was formed or something.

The truth is, this site is less than a year old. I didn’t know any of those people who link to my site a year ago. In fact, my entire experience with blogging started less than two years ago. At this exact time two years ago, I was a complete blogging newbie, just like you might be.

I put my pants on just like the rest of you — one leg at a time. Except, once my pants are on, I make gold records.

So don’t give me a line about how hard it is to create relationships and get other bloggers to link to you. I was just there myself.

I understand that it can be frustrating when no one pays attention to you at first. But, if you have some patience and put in the effort, you can make strong, mutually beneficial connections with other bloggers too.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Back when I started this site, the people who seem so huge and well established now weren’t nearly as big a deal. Yes, they had modest followings, but some of them have grown massively over the past year.

Don’t set your sights exclusively on “a-listers.” Look for people who are coming up and gaining momentum fast. Become friends now and ride the wave with them.

In any case, no matter who you try to make connections with, there are some basic ground rules to keep in mind. I think a lot of people are making the whole “connecting with other bloggers” thing much harder than it needs to be.

One of the worst things you can do when trying to connect with a blogger or entrepreneur you don’t know is to send an email out of the blue asking for someone to promote your new blog post or product.

Why would I want to promote something simply because someone I don’t know asked me to? It’s simple. I wouldn’t. In fact, I’m 1,000% less likely to promote your article if you ask me to and I don’t know you.

Karol Gajda agrees. I noticed this tweet from him as I was writing this post:

You have to form relationships naturally. Asking for something from someone you don’t know is just pushy and rude.

Think about how relationships work in real life. Do you go around trying to make friends by asking strangers to tell everyone they know about some project you worked on?

If you’re having trouble making connections with people online, just focus on following the same etiquette you follow in the regular world. Try to be helpful and genuinely interested in the other person first. Don’t rush things, and don’t try to force relationships with people who aren’t a good natural fit.

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to write a stranger an email if that stranger has a contact page on his or her website. I love hearing from readers and up-and-coming bloggers. If you do write a stranger though, make your first contact about that person, not all about you.

Try flattery, try giving helpful feedback, try offering to help the person with something you read they are working on.

Perhaps even ask for advice, but keep your questions brief. Busy people appreciate brevity above almost anything else. Especially when they’re first getting to know you.

Then, nurture your relationship slowly and naturally over time. If the person you wrote responds, great. If they show enthusiasm about you or what you reached out about, that’s even better.

If the person doesn’t respond or doesn’t seem to click with you for some reason, don’t get pushy or self-promotional. It’s better to focus on the people who you seem to naturally connect with.

An even better way to get in touch with a stranger you want to get to know is to get introduced. Once you start connecting with people, you’ll learn who knows who and you’ll see that online networks tend to be rather close knit.

Identify a list of people you want to get in touch with and think about who you might know who also knows those people. Ask for a quick introduction and take things from there. Warm introductions are always better than cold ones.

After you’ve connected with some people online, keep offering to help them out. The more help you offer, the more opportunities will open up for you naturally.

People tend to reciprocate. It’s one of the laws of influence.

Remember, treat your online relationships just like you treat your real life ones. Connecting with people online isn’t hard, it just requires patience and sincerity.

Have other tips for connecting with people online? Have you had good or bad experiences recently either trying to connect with or trying to be connected with by someone else?

Please share in the comments!

photo by Florian SEROUSSI

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