I’ve got a bit of a reputation as a skilled networker. Just look at my favourites. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with many A-Listers and have had many people beg for my secrets.

The truth? There aren’t any. There are strategies. There is hard work and the willingness to accept failure.

Rather than provide yet another tutorial, this post talks about how I managed to go from a blogging nobody to where I am.

Now, I’ve released a cool networking course called ‘How To Network Fast’. It is way more comprehensive than this post and contains the Twitter and guest post strategies that got me out of poverty. If that sounds like the thing kind of thing you’d dig, click here to check it out.

The beginning

I started out experimenting like everybody else. I did the 30 Day challenge. I signed up for the RSS feeds of all the top blogs. I reviewed a lot of products on my comic book blog. I learned so much but the income was just trickling in.

It was around the end of 2008 that my anxiety disorder got worse. I was unable to work so just hung out on Twitter. I primarily hung out in the Australian blogging community and I made some really good friends. One of my earliest friends and supporters was Darren Rowse. I was always a fan, but wanted to connect with him after the birth of his second son. I had become an aunt for the first time and emotionally connected to the story. I started talking to him on Twitter and occasionally had a Google Talk conversation with him. I also enjoyed talking to WordPress geek Jeff Chandler.

Then I did my first Problogger review

Reviewing Dave Navarro’s How to Launch the **** Out of Your Ebook was a turning point. I wrote about how this happened on Remarkablogger. What I didn’t know was that this one review would lead to so many other opportunities.

I followed up with a review of the The Unlimited Freelancer. I got some negative feedback which scared me off doing a review for a while. However, this one opportunity led to so many more.
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Lessons:

Be willing to leverage previous successes

I was too scared to do this because it felt like bragging. I lost a lot of opportunities to connect and work with new people.

You don’t have to be annoying and spammy to point out why you rock. You just have to point to examples of your work and any relevant social proof. I now try to collect LinkedIn references from my clients so they can speak on my behalf.

Iwas comfortable with losing those opportunities because I was uncomfortable promoting myself and that’s fine. I wasn’t ready to push certain boundaries and doing so may have led to resentment. However, it’s worth knowing when to leave your comfort zone.

Don’t take criticism to heart

I didn’t review products for a long time after my Unlimited Freelancer review was criticized by the Copyblogger readership. I’ve never been able to distance myself emotionally from my work and that has led to me turning down opportunities because I was scared of the criticism the extra exposure will bring.

Distancing myself from my work is a challenge and it takes a lot of practice to get used to criticism. I now see negative comments as a challenge. I try to see a situation from their perspective and trying to talk back to them as a fellow person. Most people respond to this. Those that don’t aren’t willing to see any other opinion than their own.

Going to tweet ups

@jadecraven and @neilcreek

After I’d been on my meds a couple of months, I decided I really wanted to meet Darren. We’d been talking for about 6 months and had developed a good rapport. I arranged to catch up with him at a Melbourne Bloggers meetup.

It was awkward. I hadn’t socialized in over a year and just leaving the house was embarrassingly difficult. It was fun to have a chat but I was nothing compared to how I am online.

Days after that, I discovered that there was a new tweetup called Tweetupmellers and sent Darren a DM seeing if he would go. I nearly couldn’t make it due to a random foot injury but did so. It was a rough first tweetup.

I didn’t know anyone so had to embarrassingly introduce myself to everyone with a Seth Godin doll. It certainly broke the ice but I felt embarrassed at future tweetups. It was at this time that I met my future mate and business partner, Bill Journee. I thought he was a goober and still have no idea how we became friends.

I later introduced Sarah Prout to Darren and was able to review her Twitter book on Twitip. I also met Si Dawson, creator of the Twit Cleaner. I reviewed that on Twitip as well.

Tweetupmellers was such a fabulous business opportunity, but also helped with my personal life. I’ve met many people that have become good friends that I’ve since caught up with in Melbourne.

Lesson:

Tweetups are a great place to network

I’m an influencer but I only recommend products from the people I trust. Meeting someone in person is one of the best ways to build trust. I trusted Sarah Prout and Si Dawson because they were friendly, talked to me as an equal and helped me out when I was feeling ill.

Business wise, I don’t get that much out of tweetups. I see it them as a place to meet cool people. I rarely try to help the person that just shoves a business card in my face. I’m looking for people that are smart and take care of their community. One of the best ways to observe how they treat people, including yourself, is at a tweetup.

The 892 bloggers post

DM Scott, Jen Frahm and Sponsors

I created the first post, about Darren Rowse, before I launched the prolific writer. This had got a bit of attention via Twitter and Stumbleupon so I created a similar one about Shai Coggins. I had always planning to create a huge post called 1000 tips you can learn from 40 bloggers but had been unable to blog for some time. In June, I decided to re-launch my blog with this main concept in mind.

Networking while creating the list

My intention with this post was to create a list of top bloggers and what you could learn from them. I planned to interview each person and review all of their content. It was an epic undertaking and one that was quite stressful.

I published each post as they were completed. This led to a lot of people commenting on the posts and contacting me personally. Many asked for me to tell them when it was up so that they could retweet it. I was able to get some review copies and generally, build some interested.

I ended up launching it in September to coincide with the social media masterclass with David Meerman Scott.

Meeting DM Scott

Meeting David was one of the highlights of last year. He is such a compelling presenter and his book, World Wide Rave, was the best social media book I had read.

I had the pleasure of attending drinks with him, and other prominent social media identities, the night before the conference. Normally, I would have felt out of place at a meetup. I met two fabulous Brisbane women – Anne Sorensen and Jillian Kingsford Smith. I was able to help them both out after the conference. I was glad to, because they were so fascinating.

The list post was a good reason for David to talk to me. He thanked me, and asked about the work that went into it. I talked about his books and was able to get my copies signed by him. We made arrangements for me to interview him the next day via flipcam.

Lessons:

It is worth getting the persons attention prior to their event.

So many awesome people attended the Masterclass. There was a lot of demand for David’s attention and, under normal circumstances, it would have been difficult to reach out to him.

Because I had made the prior connection via the post and the drinks he sought out me to do the video interview and even gave me advice on what I could do. All it took was including him in a crazy launch post.

You can network while creating a blog post

I do a lot of blog posts that feature others and will continue to do so. These resonate with the audience and help me get to know awesome people.

I try to work with someone to create a really awesome post. That means interviewing them, creating relevant promotions and sending them post drafts to see if there is anyway they’d improve it. It means I get to know the blogger better and learn more about their working style.

Getting my job thanks to Twitter.

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My work quickly got the attention of Sam Mutimer – the founder of Tweetupmellers and social media strategist of ThinkTank Media. I had offered her help via DM which led to her hiring me for a number of campaigns.

I was able to build my profile thanks to my work there. My blog posts got considerable attention. I became friends with Ali from Caroline Serviced Apartments. Sam also raved to some of her friends about the work I did.

Meeting Iggy Pintado.

One of those friends was Connection Generation author, Iggy Pintado. I did a blog post for Twitip about how I got my job thanks to Twitter which attracted his attention. He seemed interested in my work so I went to a mini tweetup to meet him.

Iggy later told me that my discomfort was very visible during this tweetup, but I was so grateful for the chance to go. It was smaller and less formal than regular tweetups. I was able to meet other local business identities like David Warwick and Luke Grange.

I was able to talk to Iggy about his book and interview him for my blog. This wouldn’t have happened without Sam’s help.

Quitting work

I ended up quitting Think Tank Media late last year due to severe family problems. I took some time off before starting a guest post campaign over the summer.

Lesson:

You can quit your job and still be friends with your ex boss

I felt horrible when I quit ThinkTank Media. I loved the work but I couldn’t handle the family stress and continue to rock the campaigns. I spent some time agonizing over the decision to quit and the hardest part was telling Sam.

It hurts watching the business kick arse and not being part of it, but I am very thankful for my friendship. I’ve gone into the offices to hang out and do work. I meet Sam at tweetups and chat to her on facebook. I even embarrass her at conferences by getting Gary Vaynerchuk to say Hi. This was an awesome lesson that I was really glad to learn.

Writing the Bloggers to Watch list.

I pitched the 30 Bloggers to Watch concept on a whim. I thought it would be a good idea so sent Darren a DM asking if he would be. He was.

I wrote it in 2009 but Darren waited some time until he posted it. It was a bit unpolished, so I was surprised when the post went up. I was also surprised at just how popular the post got.

It received the most comments out of any of my guest posts. Twitter went nuts. It was rather stressful dealing with the comments and fixing some of the issues in the post.

It was a fascinating networking opportunity. All of the people featured on the list were stoked and touched base with me. It was an opportunity for many of my friends, such as Robb Sutton and Ali Hale, to reconnect. Many people reported extra sales, and Twitter followers. Most have used their list status as social proof on their website or sales copy.

Here’s something that many people don’t talk about with these kind of lists: A lot of people got hurt feelings. It’s harder when you are friends with them and have to justify your decision because I was too tired to do more than 30 and wanted a balance of metabloggers.

It also led to so many new people connecting with me. I was able to chat to many of the rising stars and help them kick arse. I also had many established bloggers reach out to me – people like David Risely and Yaro Starak. That was an honour.

Lessons:

I did a summary of the many lessons learned in 3 Essential Lessons and 3 Benefits About Viral Blog Posts. They are still relevant and there was a number of interesting comments.

Launching my small business.

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Creating Social Media Solutions was one of the craziest, funnest, stressful and awesome things I’ve done. I’ve written about it on this blog several times. The business itself didn’t lead to an direct networking experiences. It was more of a chronological backdrop to meeting two people that I’m now an even bigger fan of.

Meeting Skellie

It was around this time that I met Skellie. This was a fabulous meeting. I’ve been blog crushing on her from the start. She is the person that made me go ‘Yep. This is what I want to do.’

I’d commented on her blog and tweeted with her but we didn’t make a solid connection until April, 2009. I was in Adelaide for the Easter weekend and was relaxing in the bathroom at the hotel because that was the only place with a free power point.

She put a call out asking for advice for email lists. I replied, offering to collate some of the emails from my swipe file and forwarded them to her. She then asked for my advice on what I wanted from such a product and we corresponded a bit over that first month. 9 months later she was nearing release and contacted me to look over the draft copy.

We met up soon after the launch. It was amazing to meet someone I truly idolized and share stories about guest posting and blogging. She is such a fantastic person and I’m so thankful I got the chance to be part of her launch.

Lessons:

People have the same desire to help regardless of how successful they are

I was so surprised at how awesome both Fi and Skellie were. They both offered to help me, which was amazing. They are both intelligent and busy people and I was honored they were willing to help me with my new business.

I didn’t take up the offers. I see both Fi and Skellie as mentors and would rather focus on observing them and learning as much as possible by me helping them. But the fact that they offered, well, that makes them SO much cooler to me.

Having a business makes a great networking point

When I was ‘just a blogger’, I struggled with conversation with a lot of business types. I didn’t feel I was qualified to talk to them about issues. Now that I have my own business, I find it a lot easier to talk about it. I don’t know whether this is a confidence thing, or just that my knowledge has grown, but it has allowed me to have very serious discussions with prominent businesspeople about ways I can specifically help them. It’s been awesome and I suspect it will lead to a whole new level of connecting people.

Going to Connect Now

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This is something that I never expected I’d be able to do. I went to an interstate conference and met such amazing people.

I hugged Darren Rowse. (I’ve been mates with him for a while but had never hugged.) I got a pic with Gary Vaynerchuk. I got my copy of Engage signed by Brian Solis. I got to chat with many of the other presenters in the breaks. It was awesome.

The best action happened with those that weren’t ‘famous’. I was able to meet people that I’d spoken to for over a year and really wanted to meet.

I was able to save money that week by staying with Iggy Pintado and his lovely wife Kerry. Staying with them was such a lovely experience and really helped with the accidental networking. Iggy loves connecting so was constantly connecting me with people. He was able to introduce me to a lot of Sydney people I hadn’t had the chance of talking to on Twitter. We went to champagne Fridays and East Side Coffee Mornings and he was able to introduce me to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. Some of these led to really cool friendships – such as with Nancy Georges and Kristin Rohan.

Connect now was a financial risk. I haven’t gotten any direct business from it. From a networking perspective, it was bloody amazing. Its led to new friendships and possible work opportunities. I’m planning to go to Blog World Expo in October.

Lessons:

Prepare for the conference well in advance.

I wrote about my conference networking techniques previously, but I was nowhere near prepared for Connect Now. I had researched the presenters but hadn’t researched enough of the attendees. I feel a lot calmer around people when I’m familiar with their work. I was able to easily chat to, and hug, those I had already spoken to online. With others, it was rather awkward.

I know what to do for next time and will be following up in a future post.

Stay close to the action.

I stayed with friends about 30 minutes out of Sydney. I loved staying with them because it was comfortable and felt like home. I know that I lost some networking opportunities because I was so far away from the venue.

If I had stayed closer, I would have been able to go out to some of the post event networking drinks. I wouldn’t have lost so much time getting there and back and would have been able to hang around to chat after the speakers had finished.

I wasn’t worried about this at Connect Now, because it was draining and I didn’t have the energy to network. However, I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this at future events.

Other stories:

Not all meetings can form part of a narrative. Even though I’ve actively leveraged my previous work, a lot of my networking has been accidentally.