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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Subscribe to their blogs. Besides being very cool people, they usually have something intelligent to say and you need to be reading it.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.