One of the main components of SEO, public relations and inbound is outreach. For your content to reach a significantly larger audience, you need to place it in front of the right eyes. Better relationships will almost always equal better professional opportunities. online-earned-media-relationships

As a Search Media Networker, my job for the past year and a half has been to outreach and maintain relationships with people. Here’s how I managed to be successful:

Don’t dilly-dally–get to the point

While you’re certainly allowed to provide compliments or exchanges, let’s be perfectly realistic – the person gaining the most benefit from the exchange is you. People like talking about themselves, but they’re rarely eager to listen to someone else. So, when talking about yourself or your content in a pitch, get to the point. If your e-mail is too lengthy, the publisher is just going to roll their eyes and look past the BS. Blog owners, news outlets and magazines love genuine compliments – so make your compliments genuine.

Make them feel valuable and useful

This seems like it contradicts my previous point, but it doesn’t. Making people feel valuable is a whole lot different than making people feel special. By complimenting someone’s work and engaging in discussion about their work, you’re simultaneously boosting their confidence and increasing their desire to interact with you. It’s genuine and doesn’t come off as needy.

There are other ways of making your contacts feel valuable that don’t consist of honest compliments. You can make your contacts feel useful but making them useful. When offering prospective publishers a piece of content, it’s never a bad idea to ask them for their input. Is there something you can add or detract from the piece? Is there a way you can better promote it? The conversation may cause a slight delay in publication and promotion, but those initial discussions will speed things up later on. You’ll know what they want and they’ll love what you produce.

Provide something in return

No matter how picky the site owner is, they’re still doing you a huge favor by publishing or promoting your content. Your content is now being read, viewed and listened to by far more people than it was before. What better way to show your appreciation than to provide them with something equally useful in return?

Now, I wasn’t doing this when I initially started. At one point, I selfishly thought that “my content was the gift.” Thomas Kennedy, Content Creator at Joyful Noise Recordings, then explained that giving publishers something [for free] helped add meaningful longevity to a relationship. I started offering something useful to my contacts and I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of success.

Don’t think you have anything to offer your contacts? Think again! Offer a guest post exchange, authorship status (immediate publication access), provide them with a neat tool, introduce them to someone authoritative or useful—the list goes on.

Keep in touch

Let’s face it: there are going to be periods of time when you don’t have content that caters to a particular audience. This means that certain publications are likely to be unused and forgotten.

Do NOT let this happen.

Even if you have “no need” for them at that moment, it doesn’t hurt to be nice. Send a greeting card during the holidays, a tweet saying “Hello,” or an e-mail to express how much you enjoyed a blog post or webinar of theirs. It’ll give them a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

felicia-brandwatch-relationship-building

The lovely folks at Brandwatch sent me these rad gifts a few months back. The fuzzies. I haz them.

Be nice

This is, by far, the most important aspect of online relationship building. It may seem obvious, but there are a lot of trolls out looking to start trouble. If you find that a contact is getting snippy with you or asking for something unreasonable, just kill them with kindness (or as Jeremy Dearringer would say, “Use the Care Bear Stare”). Smile, nod and if there’s no way of alleviating a situation, move on.

If you’re courteous, respectful and genuine the whole time, you’ll find great success. How do you build and maintain your own earned media relationships?

Image credit: r reeves