Authority. We all want it. Authority is sexy. Practically every blogger is chasing it in some way, shape or form. Authority brings power, respect, visibility, opportunities and loyal followers.
But establishing authority isn’t easy. I’d know… because I don’t have any. As a newbie to the blogosphere, I’m like millions of others out there trying to be seen and heard. Echo…echo… echooo
So how do you create authority?
Authority is all about knowledge & networking. This post will concentrate on the networking side of the equation. If you want authority, you’ll need to create a network of followers. The most prominent bloggers and social media superstars have thousands of followers. Maki from Dosh Dosh has over 16,000 subscribers! Whoa.
Now… I’m clearly not the best person to advise on how to get to that point. I’m a newbie, and my own network is infinitely small compared to Maki’s. In fact, it’s pretty small compared to anyone. But I can provide some tips on how a targeted networking strategy can help you build authority quicker.
In essence, targeted networking is an approach that focuses on identifying and targeting people that have already established some level of authority within your niche. For me targeted networking was a way of working smarter, not harder. We’re all busy, and finding time to commit to hundreds of digital relationships is difficult. So I made the decision to focus on the quality of each relationship, rather than sheer quantity.
The real benefit of targeted networking is leverage. Influential bloggers and social media stars have visibility and reach that newbies can only dream of. Imagine the impact when an influential blogger starts to submit your work within social media. Your work reaches infinitely more people based on their personal authority level, visibility and follower base.
While it is still early days, targeted networking has ensured that most of my new work gets submitted to the most prominent social media outlet in my niche (Sphinn). It has also helped me to secure guest posts on popular industry blogs such as Huomah and Social Desire (with more to come). And most importantly, it has helped me develop relationships with some influential people within my niche. I’ve outlined 7 key steps I have followed in my own targeted networking process.
The 7 steps to establishing a targeted networking process
Step 1 – Install the MyBlogLog recent viewer tool to your blog
MyBlogLog provide a great little widget for bloggers. The ‘Recent Viewers’ widget shows you who has visited your blog recently. Names and profile pictures appear within the widget which slots easily into your sidebar. Most influential bloggers use it. Install this widget to your blog to get the process started.
Once you’ve installed the widget on your blog, you’ll be in a position to recognise when an influential blogger visits your site.
Step 2 – Register and study your relevant social networks
Just about every influential blogger on the web is entrenched (if not obsessed) with social media. Social networks such as Digg & StumbleUpon have the ability to deliver traffic in spades. Experienced bloggers know this. So they dedicate significant portions of their time to maintaining active and credible accounts within their preferred social networks.
Your next step is to identify the social networks in which the most influential bloggers in your niche congregate. I write about digital marketing. So my most relevant social network was Sphinn. Maki has provided a list of 40+ social media networks, so this is a good place to start your search.
Once you nominate the most relevant communities you’ll need to study them. Visit the site regularly and observe who the key players are. Influential bloggers are fairly easy to spot. Their submissions will regularly make the front page, and they’ll be active in discussions/comments.
Step 3 – Begin contributing within your chosen social networks
Establishing your own social media presence takes time and persistence, which causes most people give up. They fail to see results within a few weeks, so write social media off as a waste of time. Social media success takes time and just like search engine optimisation, it can’t be achieved overnight. Managing your expectations is critical.
The kind of activities you need to focus on to create an initial level of visibility include:
- Submitting articles to the network. Be aware that your submissions are unlikely to generate votes initially as the level of trust from the community is low. It takes time to create the type of momentum that will translate to votes.
- Vote on articles that other members submit.
- Comment on articles and blogs that other members submit. This is the most important exercise you can initially undertake. Contributing insightful and intelligent discussion to a topic will slowly attract interest from members of the community. Concentrate your comments on popular articles to maximise the visibility of your input.
Step 4 – Monitor the MyBlogLog widget carefully
Ongoing persistence within your chosen social network will eventually pay off. Monitor the names and faces within your MyBlogLog widget religiously. One by one, you’ll begin to see familiar faces popping on to your blog.
Step 5 – Make contact with influential bloggers
Once you see an influential blogger visit your site, make immediate contact. You can contact them via MyBlogLog, but is preferable to do so via another social network. I make contact via StumbleUpon as users receive an email notification when they receive a message. Personalise your message to the highest degree to avoid any perception of spam. I always include their name, along with the name of their blog and some sort of personal feedback (such as a comment about a recent post). Oh yeah… and don’t forget to thank them for stopping past your blog!
Step 6 – Monitor your responses
Keep a close eye on your inbox to monitor responses from fellow bloggers. Don’t expect everyone to respond, and don’t get offended by those who don’t. Power bloggers are extremely busy and receive hundreds of messages a day. Some people are simply untouchable. Focus instead on those people who do respond. They are your new friends.
Step 7 – Enhance the relationship
Now that you’ve made contact it’s your job to foster every new relationship that is derived from the process. You need to do everything in your power to maintain contact and interest with your new friends. Here’s what I do:
- Subscribe to their blog
- Visit their blog every couple of days to ensure your face regularly appears in their MyBlogLog visitors
- Leave intelligent comments on their posts
- Submit their articles to social media
- Vote for their articles in social media
- Befriend them in other social networks
- Create additional touch points via email or messenger services and speak as often as possible without hassling them
Social media is all about sharing. Follow the steps above and most bloggers will reciprocate on some level. And as they do, your work will reach far wider audiences than you could ever imagine.
How targeted networking builds authority
The targeted networking process builds your personal level of authority in a number of ways:
- Authority by association. If people see your work has been submitted by an influential blogger, they’re more likely to consider you an authority as well.
- As traffic increases, so too do the metrics people use to measure your authority such as the subscriber count, Alexa rank, number of comments and inbound links.
- Influential bloggers notice the work fellow pro bloggers submit. Others will become aware of your work, and if you’re lucky will also look to submit it to relevant social media sites. This can create a snowball effect of visibility and authority.
- As your visibility and traffic increases, so to does your own personal network. People will begin to start contacting you!
Isn’t targeting networking elitist?
No. By no means does targeted networking exclude interaction with fellow newbies. I speak with fellow newbies as often as I do influential bloggers. But I choose to conduct my proactive networking in a targeted manner. It’s my way of maximising the ROI from the limited amount of time I have to network. And while traffic, subscribers and social media support continue to grow, I’m happy to say it’s helping to build my personal authority level.