The internet gets a bad rap these days, with hateful trolls mobbing people’s Twitter feeds and cyberbullies toppling kids’ confidence like a tower of stacking blocks. But online I’ve found a welcoming, encouraging and supportive community of bloggers. It’s no wonder I’ve been wanting to network with bloggers in person, face-to-face, in real life.
Giving online high-fives, hugs and fist bumps is all well and good but, as I’ve written about before, meeting up with internet friends—and yes, even network with bloggers (it’s not a dirty word!)—off the computer feels even better. Plus, meeting up IRL is a wonderful chance to share ideas, collaborate, give advice and learn from each other.
It can feel awkward or even intimidating to meet other bloggers face to face, though, especially if you don’t know them well. So here’s a little advice to help you feel confident, prepared and excited to network with bloggers in real life.
Network with bloggers—without feeling skeezy
Look for ways to help. Networking can feel like it’s a four-letter word, but it’s all about how you approach it. So network with bloggers not to get ahead but to deepen relationships—i.e. trying to give as much as you get.
Bring business cards. With so much networking happening online, hard copy business cards can feel obsolete. But I’ve found that bloggers especially appreciate getting a business card, and it makes it easier to connect later.
Connect online. Follow each other on social media while you’re hanging out (or even before, if you know who’s going). Being connected on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so forth also makes it easy to tag each other in photos or posts you share in the moment.
Pre-game. Think of something you’d love to learn from each of the people you’ll be networking with. It might be related to her blog (“Do you buy a lot of props for the photos you take?”), her niche (“What bakery serves your all-time favorite pastry?”) or something else (“How does your daughter like preschool?”). You’ll never run out of things to talk about, and you won’t leave wishing you’d done your homework.
Come together with a purpose. A group of bloggers from Portland Bloggers recently met up at Sellwood’s Living Room Cafe. (Side note: I love this cafe, its wide-open space and its arts and crafts corner!) We also set the intention of discussing holiday blogging plans and holiday media kits, and we spent most of our time brainstorming, offering ideas and taking notes on how to plan for holiday blogging.
I’ve found that defining a topic for a blogger meetup—whether that’s growing your Instagram following, using bullet journals for blogging productivity or automating social media posts—gives everyone something to talk about. It also makes you leave feeling like you really learned something and helped someone else. (That’s what networking with bloggers is all about!)
Follow up. All networking relies on a little follow-through so your first contact with someone new isn’t your last. So after you network with bloggers, actually visit their blog! (I know, that’s totally obvious, but so many people don’t do it.) Then engage, engage, engage. Comment on their posts, tweet their posts, like their Facebook page—whatever.
Keep the connection going. Not too long ago, I met up with another group of bloggers for a wine flight at downtown Portland’s Thelonious Wines. (Seriously so good! Plus they just started serving small plates!) We were just hanging out socially, but of course discussion turned to shop talk. I took notes on ideas the conversation sparked, and I’ve spent the last few weeks following through on those ideas.
What’s more, I reached out to a few of the other bloggers who were there, including Lisa of This Beautiful Day. We made a date to meet at Smith Teamaker for their incredible nitro chai (drooooooool) and talked Portland, travel and—of course—blogging. She offered some advice and encouragement, and I now count her as a blogging friend.
Final thoughts on how to network with bloggers
The most important thing when you network with bloggers—or anyone, really—is simple: Be yourself. Be genuine. Be interested and interesting.
When you wrap up, you’ll leave feeling confident and connected. And you may just have made some IRL friends, too.
How about you? Any tips for networking with bloggers without sacrificing your integrity?