Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blogger Networking: A First Look With No Answers

I'm not entirely sure what the questions are, let alone how to answer them.

I define networking as building and using relationships with other people for mutual benefit. The word "using" here is rife with possible problems. Networking is essentially building business relations. One makes friends for mutual benefit, too, but we frown on the idea of "using" friends. "Leaning on" friends, or offering mutual support and discussion.

It's not only the hired blogger's networking functions that concern me; a regular blogger has to worry about these issues.

Consider the following situations:

1) You see a blog and leave an intelligent comment on it, with no ulterior motives. The blogger follows the link back to your site and comments on your blog. A relationship occurs.

2) You see a blog and comment on it - the same comment, but with the additional motive of wanting the blogger to follow the link back to your site and comment on your blog. Which he does. A relationship occurs.

3) You search out blogs for which to comment on, same as 2. Comments are returned, but a relationship doesn't unfold, because you weren't really interested in the relationship, only the comments.

4) You leave pathetic comments with links, with the same outcome.

5) You hire someone to leave comments on other people's blogs as if they came from you, and a relationship develops.

6) You hire someone, but you only wanted the return traffic and comments, and no relationship develops.

Now we come to the hired blogger ...

7) You scour other blogs related to your new company, looking to build relationships so as to leverage these for the benefit of the company. You leave intelligent comments, they return them, and you build relationships. Should you leave the company, the relationships continue.

8) You scour ..., but your intention is merely to build clickthroughs back to your new company. Relationships generally don't develop.

9) You leave pithy comments, and then follow up any return comments or emails with a sales pitch.

10) You simply scours for other bloggers in order to make a sales pitch. Who needs relationships?

I'm not entirely sure what questions I want to ask here.

Is it "Which situation is ethical?" I think so, but ideas about ethics vary, and there are no black and whites in these situations.

Is it "Which is most effective?" "Which is the 'right' thing to do?"

I'm wresting with the questions. When I figure them out, maybe I can start writing some answers.

In the meantime, assuming that you're really looking to build relationships, realize than relationships, like friendships, don't come overnight, or even in one month. Relationships can take years to develop. Relationships are based on mutual interest and respect, not on one party's immediate needs. And relationships cannot be scripted or timetabled. They are personal.


1 comment:

Gavin Schmitt said...

In my eyes, your blog seeks to inform up and coming bloggers of their options, and potential ramifications for choosing one over the other. So perhaps the question we should ask ourselves first is: "What do you want for your efforts?".

Answering that question dictates further issues to consider.

For example, if your goal is to get your message/product/brand in public view, ethics and relationships may not be important.

Alternatively, if your message/product/brand is _you_, or if your goal is to be a well liked and important part of a community, then ethics and relationships are absolutely critical.

I feel that many marketers should ask this question more often in general -- otherwise they can not truly weigh the value of their actions (because value is so relative).

So, as a blogger blogging about bloggers blogging, what is your goal, and how does that inform your subsequent quests, their answers, and further questions?