11 Networking Tips for Search Marketers

As a relative newbie to the industry I’ve managed to befriend experts, become a contributor to Search Engine Journal and win an iPod. Not bad for a 24-year-old from Jacksonville, FL who was looking for a career change just six months ago.

How did I do it?

I’d like to attribute my networking success to good looks. Unfortunately, redheads only attract a small percentage of the population (a greater percentage is actually repulsed by us), so, I’ll give credit to actively networking across multiple channels and being true to who I am.

Here are 11 simple steps to help get your name out there:

  1. Attend conferences and workshops. I’ve only been to SES Chicago 2006, but my post-conference perceptions and everyday practices are much different than the pre-conference Rhea. How so? Just one example, I removed myself from sales pitch-guised mailing lists and started getting news from the source.
  2. Actively seek out social opportunities. Once you’re at a conference find the local bar, order a drink and wait for anyone wearing a Best of the Web, the lisa or other industry-relevant shirt to show up. When they do, anticipate that since you’re probably not in on the joke, you need to introduce yourself. Keep in mind that just like Britney Spears, Danny Sullivan doesn’t know who you are even if you’ve been reading his posts and viewing his family photos for months. When you finally get the nerve to approach someone (probably after two hours of drinking cider and being proposed to by a very intoxicated Bears fan), the SEOs will probably be as friendly as David Temple, Frank Watson and Andrea Schoemaker were to me.
  3. Collect business cards and don’t forget to bring your own! At the earliest possible opportunity jump onto Linked In and start befriending the individuals you just met.
  4. Subscribe to their blogs. Besides being very cool people, they usually have something intelligent to say and you need to be reading it.
  5. Participate in the conversation. If someone has a blog with comments enabled, they genuinely want your opinion. Bloggers like to know who their audience is and are encouraged by your feedback (unless you’re creepy or spam).
  6. Just like SEO/PPC best practices, leverage local opportunities. That means find groups in your area to exchange ideas and tricks of the trade. If you have a Refresh or BarCamp group in the area, they’re a great start. Also, check out MeetUp.com for local gatherings. My small area alone offers the following under ‘Internet and Technology’ – CSS, PHP, game developers and Web Professionals groups.
  7. Join MyBlogLog. Even if you don’t have a blog, this is a great way to see who is reading what and whether you’re missing out on some other great writers. You could even win an iPod, klog or a date with Chris Hooley.
  8. Join MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, StumbleUpon, etc. Join every possible social network and build a personality. You have likes and dislikes, let those be known. The more someone can associate things with your name or picture the more likely they are to remember you.
  9. Contribute to the forums. If you have a question, seek advice from your peers! They’ve probably been there and done that when it comes to most situations and can be an invaluable resource. Just like bloggers, forum contributors like to spark a good conversation and get feedback.
  10. Start your own blog. A word of caution, if you don’t have something unique to say, don’t say it! Someone already has and probably did so with more authority. If you feel like you can bring something new to the table, then start typing and if it’s good you’ll get noticed. Just ask The Lisa.
  11. Finally, Rinse and Repeat. As you make significant improvements in exposure, understanding and experience, you’ll find even bigger obstacles in front of you. Be humble and always return to the basics.
Rhea Drysdale
Rhea Drysdale is Co-founder and CEO of Outspoken Media, which specializes in SEO consulting, link building, reputation management and social media. With more than seven years experiences, Rhea has spoken at SMX, SES, Web 2.0 Expo, Pubcon, Blog World Expo and BlueGlass. She has also been featured on CNN.com, in the Wall Street Journal and in SEO: The Search Engine Optimization Bible as an industry insider.

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32 thoughts on “11 Networking Tips for Search Marketers

  1. I think this is a great blog post, especially for new marketers and how to get out there. I think newbies get lost in the mix since now, every two or three days something new pops up.

  2. Excellent post Rhea. My first SES was SES NY in 2004 and I was a bit overwhelmed by the scene.

    Attending on a press pass, I was lucky enough however to meet some of the awesome Yahoo and Ask staff members, and people like Andy Beal, Jeremy Zawodny and Rand Fishkin for the first time.

    SES San Jose 2006 was a whole different story. By then I had established Search Engine Journal as a popular blog and got to really know some of the major players in the industry.

    SES Chicago, in my opinion, was the perfect chance for you to do your networking and meet others in search. It’s a smaller, more intimate setting and the freezing weather keeps people inside (meaning usually in the bar), and those late night trips to Dicks and other restaurants are fantastic too.

    I’ve made some really good friends through SES, people that I would normally hang with if we even didn’t do the same thing for a living :)

  3. Oh, and great recommendation with MeetUp.com!

    I just registered and signed up for a Tampa Bay Bloggers MeetUp and there are some great Web Design and Development MeetUps which will be good for networking and maybe making some new local friends.

  4. Thanks for the good responses and SES was certainly an amazing experience. I really hope I can go to SMX. I didn’t know about MeetUp.com until a client mentioned stumbling across it while searching for a designer in the area. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing.

  5. Great first post Rhea! This girl definitely knows what she’s talking about so listen up everyone.

    BTW – I would’ve never guessed SES Chicago was your first show, you were like an old pro.

  6. That’s funny, I was pretty much terrified. It wasn’t just my first SES conference, it was my first business trip!!

  7. Wonderful advice Rhea and great to see you on board. Our first real Local (Ireland) search event is next month. Really excited about it. (And Danny will be there) so your advice is very much appreciated.

  8. Rhea –

    This is the first read entry from the journal that I’ve read via my rss feedreader, and I’ve simply blown away! While I do my best to practice many of these techniques, thanks for the reminder, and thanks for encouraging meetup.com. I’ve gone to a few in the past, and found them extremely useful!

    oh, and for the record, my wife is a redhead, so I guess I fall into that small percentage! Via la rouge!

  9. If it turned out that MyBlogLog was collecting data about the sites you visit and the people that visit your site with the end goal of selling that information, would you still include item 7 in your list?

    I’m not saying MBL does collect this data, I’m just wondering what people would think of the service if they did.

  10. Hello Rhea,

    Great and fun article to read. Your writing style made me an instant fan of you!

    So I’d like to add another tip: Write fun articles on searchenginejournal.com

    Love to meet you at a coming conference.

  11. what is the effectiveness of LinkedIn? Has anyone ever gotten work from it? I think of it as an “adult” version of MySpace.

  12. Dan, good question. I haven’t gotten work from it, but I’m not personally looking for work. I have however been able to connect with old colleagues and professors that will never, for obvious reasons, be on MySpace or Facebook. Those connections are invaluable to me, though I haven’t had to call on them to date.

    Ahmed, I know! When I have some free time I’ll throw something together. Thanks for the encouragement, I don’t want to be a blogger outside of SEJ, so the site will probably just have pics and basic info.

  13. I attended SES back in the dark ages (2001), but went to PubCon in 2006 and met a lot of great people. I run several San Diego Meetup groups including the SEO Meetup.

    As for Linkedin, I have gotten a few contracts there, but mostly have made some incredible friends. If you do become a part of it, be sure to join the LinkedIn Yahoo groups as well (MyLinkedInPowerForum is the best) .

    Here is my list of online networks and social bookmarking sites: http://www.squidoo.com/onnetworking

  14. Wow Rhea you sure are smart figuring this all out so quickly. And you do follow your own advice, I saw you everywhere at SES and talking to everyone. Best wishes with your SEJ gig.

  15. Wow, that’s a really mature response. As for the site being banned that’s a long story that has nothing to do with optimization efforts and everything to do with branding.

  16. Rhea,

    Now that it is a little over a year since this posting, how has your view on networking within search evolved?

    You mention networking across multiple channels. I am guessing you mean conferences (well clearly) and Blogs? I am not really sure where you draw the line between blogging and networking through a blog. It looks to me as though you may have managed to do the latter, but just in case I am wrong I am going to have to put your networking success down to your first option.

    Seriously though, I have to say I think networking success is all about attitude, not what channels you use and not how you look. Both of those help, but they are just tools. If you go in intending to increase your network of contacts you will do just that. Personally I go into these things looking to learn interesting things from interesting people. This leads to a small network of very interesting people, which is where I am happiest. Others go in and produce marvelous networks that they work to create success. I can respect this. Again I think it is about attitude. Going and introducing yourself (as you say), and then establishing the sort of contact that you are looking for, and finally following up afterwards to cement the contact.

    Oh, and following your advice I shall mention I am involved in a retail media blog.

  17. Rufus, thanks for taking the time to respond. I typed out a response and then the comments plugin blew up on me, so here’s the short version: there’s no secret formula for networking. My post was as much a personal story as anything with lots of sarcasm and humor. I had a specific reason for expanding my network, I was trying to solve a very big problem for my previous company. Along the way I gained a little name recognition, some amazing friends and business partners. I wouldn’t change anything I did, but I’m much more laid back about how I approach people. I hate crowds, so I usually feel uncomfortable in big groups.

    Feel free to ping me on AIM (rmonkeygirl) and we can discuss further.