Two posts on the subject of networking with other bloggers caught my attention this weekend. The premise of both is that you’ll be better served working to network with non-probloggers than you will working to network with probloggers. While I completely agree with the advice, I think it’s incomplete. Bloggers come in many more flavors than pro and non-pro. They sit along a spectrum of popularity and influence and there are many points along that spectrum where you can and should try networking. Even better there’s a sweet spot along the blogging spectrum, which will give you the greatest return on your networking efforts.
The first of the two posts, Why It Is Better To Network With Non Probloggers was written by Rocai from Blogging Mix. The second post, Networking with Bloggers – ‘Lower’ Your Sights and You Could Benefit More, is a follow up to the first post by none other than problogger Darren Rowse.
Probloggers vs. Non-Probloggers
Rocai offers some cons when it comes to networking with bloggers at the top of the food chain. The main points being:
- Probloggers already have a huge network. The larger their network the lesser your chances of getting noticed.
- Probloggers network with other probloggers not with newbies.
- In order for networking to work, there should be a mutual benefit to parties involved. With Probloggers, what can you give them when they’ve got all.
The other side of the argument are the benefits of networking with non-probloggers:
- Non Probloggers are still building their networks.
- Non Probloggers are usually new to blogging so they need all the support they can get.
- Non Problogger are more generous.
- Compared to Problogger, Non Probloggers are larger in number.
- Non Probloggers are not too picky with whom they network with.
I generally agree with Rocai in the idea that non-probloggers will be easier to add to your network than probbloggers and that ease may lead to quicker benefits. The main reason is simple. Bloggers at the top have more demands made of their time and it will be harder for you to gain their attention. I don’t think less known bloggers are more generous by nature, but because their networks are small and they are less known it’s much easier to grab their attention.
One email in ten has a much better chance of standing out than one email in a thousand.
The Spectrum of Blogging Influence
The world is not black and white. The world is shades of gray. The division of pro vs. non-pro bloggers is incomplete. Where is the dividing line? Is it 10,000 subscribers? 2,000 subscribers? 500 subscribers? 50 subscribers? There really isn’t a dividing line. Bloggers can reside along many different points along the spectrum of popularity and influence.
Darren Rowse has 35,000+ subscribers and climbing on ProBlogger. That’s a lot more subscribers than I have and it won’t be hard to realize Darren can do a lot more for your blog than I can at the moment, Skellie, who is a frequent guest blogger for Darren has 2,000+ subscribers and climbing at Skelliewag. I think it’s fair to say that Darren has more influence at the moment than Skellie, but at the same time Skellie also has more influence than me.
That’s not to say Skellie and myself aren’t good networking options. But when comparing the three of us Darren has the most influence, followed by Skellie, with me pulling up the rear. When it comes to who would be easiest to add to your network that’s probably me. I don’t know how often people email Skellie or Darren, but I suspect each gets more requests than I do.
Every blogger will sit somewhere along a spectrum measuring influence and ease of connection. If you blog you’re on the spectrum too. For the most part the more another blogger can help you the harder it will be to gain their attention.
Instead of seeing a single dividing line think of a long line with one end representing the most influential blogger and the other end representing the least influential blogger. Everyone else lies somewhere in between. While not entirely true you could map another long line on top if this line of influence with the least influential blogger being the easiest to add to your network and the most influential blogger being the hardest to add to your network.
So who you should attempt to add to your network for the best return on your investment?
The Networking Sweet Spot
Consider again Darren, Skellie, and myself. You’ll get the most return by having Darren in your network. I’ve seen subscriber counts triple in a week after a few mentions on ProBlogger. You’re investment will be the least if you try to add me to your network. I won’t automatically be your friend just because you send me an email, but I’ll more than likely notice and open your email.
Bloggers above you in influence will provide greater return, but will require a greater investment of your time. Bloggers below you in influence will provide less return, but far less investment of your time. The sweet spot are those bloggers who are just above you on the influence spectrum. These bloggers:
- Have more influence than you
- Are not so far above you on the spectrum to make them out of reach
- Have a similar brand reach
- Have the greatest potential for finding a win-win proposition
A number of years ago when I was still working for others, but not getting ahead, a friend’s mother commented that I was always moving laterally when it came to my career. I would leave a job with one company to take the same job with another. I realized she was right and from then on whenever I applied for a new job I would only apply for one that would equal a promotion for me were I to take it at my current company.
Networking with slightly more influential bloggers is like seeking a promotion.
It shouldn’t be too hard or take too much effort to connect with bloggers who are a little ahead of you in popularity and influence. You may already be spending time in similar circles and may only need to take that one more step to connect. And since they are not too far ahead of you it becomes easier for you to move up to where they are. Where they are is the next logical step for where you should be.
There’s also a good chance they have made the next connection up the chain. If you follow a strategy of looking a little ahead of where you are and making the connections to take you one step ahead you will consistently be moving to positions of greater influence and popularity. Each new new step will yield greater return for what will essentially be the same investment on your part, that of connecting with someone who’s just a little further along than you.
Each step also takes you closer to gaining the attention of those bloggers at the top who can provide the greatest networking return.
Network With all Points Along the Spectrum
The sweet spot is where you’ll get the greatest return on your investment, but you should be working to network with bloggers at every point along the spectrum. Bloggers with less subscribers than you still have an audience that may not be aware of you. The bloggers themselves may also become loyal readers and who’s to say they won’t have more influence than you at a later date.
Bloggers at the top may require more effort and time to gain their attention, but they still provide the greatest return. You might want to look at networking with them as a longer term investment, but you should still be looking to network with them. It might not happen as fast, but it may still happen.
Take Darrren’s word in a comment he left for Rocai:
But don’t give up on us ‘ProBlogger’ types. I can’t speak for others but I do enjoy the interactions that I have with bloggers of all sizes and types