Image courtesy cesarastudillo via Flickr
This week marks the 2nd Annual Armchair BEA online event. A way for bookies to network virtually when they can’t attend the Book Expo America conference in NYC this same week. Today the Armchair BEA organizers want to know about a blogging relationship we have nurtured and tips for you to do the same…
Hello! My name is Molly. You may have seen me around the blogosphere under my personal “handle” – Bumbles. I have been blogging on The Bumbles Blog for two and a half years. That space is a personal blog all about the clumsy thoughts I have about myself and my clumsy husband and our spot in the real world. I started the personal blog to interact with other book lovers, but found that the best aspect of blogging is building relationships beyond the blog.
BEYOND THE BLOG
When I say “Beyond The Blog” I do not mean knocking on folks’ doors and hanging out in their kitchen. I mean doing so virtually – without violating personal space and treading on some shy toes. I have found that many bloggers are very shy people in the real world. The blogosphere provides a bit of a safety net for them to say what they always wanted to say without being scared or embarrassed to do so face to face. Beyond The Blog means getting to know a blogger as personally as you can online within the boundaries you each are comfortable with. The point of all of this is to make a new friend, find a valuable resource and learn something new by expanding your horizons.
CASE IN POINT
I have made friends with people from all walks of life spread across the world thanks to blogging. But they didn’t just show up at my blog. I had to put myself out there. I went and joined in a few memes. Memes are more than annoying chain letter type things. Some of them are recurring themes that allow a community to gather within and discuss items around the week’s topic. You visit the host site each week, link up your post on the current topic and then go visit the other blogs linking up. And they come to visit you – if your link title is catchy, humorous or just plain odd. That tends to help.
I met two of my co-bloggers here at Quirky Girls Read through memes. I found Margot through Teaser Tuesdays. I found Jehara through Thursday 13. I liked their thoughts, their writing, their personality that they allowed to show and the feel of their bloggy home. I left them comments to say hello. They in turn came by to see who on Earth might be behind that funny little Bumble image. We visited each other on a recurring basis, following each other’s blogs and every now and then, began to exchange e-mail messages. I could share more lengthy or personal thoughts/ideas/suggestions through e-mail and it allowed more of my personality to come through. The same was true of them. I decided I really liked these ladies and made a point to keep in touch with them through their blogs but also with them more directly beyond their blogs by communicating directly. E-mail, Twitter, Google Chat and Facebook all allow for direct communication. If a blogger has published any of these ways to contact them, don’t be shy to use them.
STALKING IS NOT THE INTENT HERE
Have you ever had one of those friends who is just constantly there? Calling you, showing up on your doorstep, an uninvited guest at a party or texting you until their fingers surely bleed? Don’t be that guy. The same creepy factor applies in the blogosphere as it does in the real world. Just because you CAN have direct communication with that super cool blogger doesn’t mean you should do it whenever it strikes your fancy. You are trying to nurture a relationship here, not smother it. Reach out directly in response to a public comment they have made on your blog. Have a nice conversation. Go with the flow. Then call it a day.
THE PERKS OF NETWORKING
Through the direct relationships beyond the blog that I have nurtured, I have found an eclectic mix of ladies and gents. Some of them play Survivor Fantasy with me, competing in a pool along with the reality TV series. Some of them share book recommendations and send me their copies when they think I’d like to read it too. I send some of them books in return for their birthdays or blogoversaries to thank them for keeping me entertained. I have received personally crafted gifts in the mail because they used me as a guinea pig for their latest creative idea. I send them links to wacky things I find online that I know would amuse them. Sometimes we help each other out with various tech issues we are having with our blogs or I connect them to fellow bloggers who have more skills than I. We provide guest posts for each other when we need a helping hand and the real world needs all of our attention. Job opportunities have been forwarded and talents vouched for. New ventures are heartily supported in any way possible. And sometimes we just vent about things that we couldn’t get away with doing with anyone else.
On one occasion I have taken a deep breath and met a blogging friend in person. I happened to be vacationing near his home and he and his wife made a trip in to meet myself and my husband and friends. This experience worked out well for me and my only regret was that we didn’t have more time together to babble on about blogging. Meeting another blogger in person is very invigorating since it is highly likely that many of your friends and family members do not relate to this little “hobby” of yours. Having someone to sit and chat with about your passion is terrific. This takes Beyond The Blog further than many are able or willing to do. Thankfully, conferences like BEA are becoming great ways for bloggers to gather under a common umbrella and shake hands with those we’ve known so well but never met.
BEING A HOMEBODY IS LAME
The personal relationships that were nurtured between Margot, Jehara and I helped lead to the creation of Quirky Girls Read. Jehara’s real life friends and fellow bloggers, Izzy and Faith, completed our blogging team and have led to yet another set of folks for me to get to know and learn from. In the end, you can blog for yourself all you want, but stepping out into any number of blogging communities throws the windows open on an exciting world of opportunities and friendships. Don’t sit there and watch it all pass you by.
How do you nurture new blogging relationships? Have you found that they are fleeting or forever strong? Start a new one today – leave a comment and join the conversation!