One of my favorite parts of my job is when people I like come to me with the stories. It allows me to focus on getting the story out there and doing the stuff I love.
But you are probably not a professional networker. So why encourage this?
It saves you time
Finding the best information can take time, especially if it requires a lot of background research. It wil save you so much more time when people just come to you with the relevant stories.
In some cases, you will get a lot of irrelevant stories however these can be filtered out by your VA.
You can often get exclusive information
Exclusivity can make you a lot of money and do a lot for your profile. Being the first to report on something means that people will look to you as an authority, and be willing to check out your other stuff.
If you ask for exclusivity, you usually need a pretty compelling reason. However if posted in the right spot, such as when James Chartrand revealed that he was actually a woman using a pseudonym in a post on Copyblogger, the information gets disseminated a LOT quicker.
You are opening the feedback loop
If someone comes to you with information, it’s usually because they want feedback or want it to be shared. You have more leverage in terms of getting further information because they came to you.
This makes it so much easier to get the right type of information. You can ask the questions that your audience would ask. This helps you structure how you share it.
I usually ask:
- What type of person do you want this to reach?
- How will it help them?
- What do you get out if
How to encourage them:
If you decide to have open communication, there are a number of things you can do to make it easier
Mention it on your contact page
You can save a lot of time deleting emails by having detailed information on your contact page. People can use this as a filter to see whether the story is right for them or not.
Not everyone will read this page and but the people who do read it will send over the necessary information. I like to include information about:
- Expected response time
- What I’ll do with your information
- What type of emails will get deleted quickly
- The best ways to get me to pay attention. If seeking a product review, I’ll suggest that they include a copy of the product.
Seed it within your community.
You know when you are in a good position when your key audience just knows to come to you with their stories. I’m in that position now and I get so much information that I can’t use it all.
This situation happens because they have created something they want to share and have gone to their peers for recommendations. Now, some people either have worked with me directly or one of their friends has. They’ll say to talk to me because I’ve helped someone in their community previously.
Using people as listening posts is a rather simple concept that not many people take advantage of. But I’m going to share a secret with you that will shave a lot of hours off your networking efforts.
Some people naturally gravititate towards the role of a leader in their community. Look at people like Allison Boyer and Srinivas Rao. They have their own communities and have to listen a lot to their respective communities in order to find the best information for audiences.
Talking to people like that can give you a much more comprehensive idea of what’s worth watching out for. They are listening to the leaders in their communities and give you a lot of useful information. If you do this, you have to make it worth their time and effort. If I do this, I’ll give them practical advice or will credit any leads they give me. I’ll create a win/win/win situation that benefits us all.
If I see someone stand out within their community, I’ll offer to chat with them for an hour to see what they’re up to. I do this because I generally like the person but, as part of the natural flow of conversation, I’ll often learn a lot of useful information.
It’s rather easy to encourage people to talk more about the awesome stuff that is going on. Usually, I’ll just flat out ask them. People know that I spread good information and it makes them feel good to know that they were a part of me helping someone out. I also do a bit of research beforehand. I’ll find out more about their personality – their interests, goals etc – to find out what type of people they’d appreciate being connected with.
If you intend to use this technique, make sure the primary goal is to get to know the person better as a person. Make gathering information a second priority.