Finding the unicorns, um, I mean bloggers.

You have to date, before you can dance.

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty – Online Networking and Blogger Relations

I can’t claim credit for the “dig your well” idea – it’s the title of a book by Harvey Mackay – but when it comes to building a network of online connections and resources, it is definitely true. The ease of sending a tweet, posting on a Facebook Wall or commenting on a blog post seems to lull some people into thinking that they’re now BFFs (Best Friends Forever in text-speak) with the “target,” who will eagerly await email blast press releases.

Um, no.

Human relationships are still built with the bricks and mortar of impressions, reactions, understanding, favors, assistance and mutual support. Social media tools make some of that a lot easier, but you still have to do the work. Hurried running after “influencers” is seen for exactly what it is.

Here are a few things you can do starting immediately to develop a better network with online publishers, by meeting them where they are:

  1. Start following the Twitter hashtag #TBEX (for Travel Blog Exchange.) It is a travel blogger’s conference (June 15-17, 2012 in Keystone, CO) but the hashtag is an ongoing travel blogger’s discussion year-round. Good way to see topics of conversation and link-sharing in the community.
  2. Start following the Facebook Page for BlogWorld and New Media Expo. It is active year-round, very conversational, and there is fresh social media-related content all the time on the BlogWorld blog. Gives a sense of the blogosphere’s diversity and spirit.
  3. Think of a topic that you like (may not even be related to work) then look for a channel about it on, a “magazine rack” of blogs. Yes, there’s a Travel channel, but there’s also Chess, Romance Novels and Furniture Industry. There’s a blog for everyone; start reading, leave comments and connect with some bloggers on their blog.

Now, you need to think about going where the geeks are offline. Surprise! The first thing social media types do when they connect online is try to figure out when they can meet in person and have a tweetup.

Upcoming events of interest:

  1. BlogWorld and New Media Expo, Los Angeles, CA, Nov 3-5. Thousands of bloggers and podcasters.
  2. BlissDom, Nashville, TN Feb 23-25. Women who publish online. Similar to BlogHer, but smaller.
  3. WordCamp. Various (schedule here.) Loosely structured conferences for WordPress bloggers.
  4. Social Media Club. Various. Chapters all over the world.
  5. Social Media Breakfast. Various. Events all over the world.

The power of offline relationship-building has not changed. Online and offline feed and support one another.

Final note: many CVBs and DMOs are starting to consider hiring local bloggers to help create content for tourism blogs. This makes sense – you get blog posts and a bit of marketing for them, and the blogger gets paid for his/her efforts (“exposure” does not pay the bills.) When I mentioned in a travel blogger Facebook Group that I was seeing an interest in this idea from people at ETourism Summit, there was a LOT of positive response and interest.

Find your local bloggers, whatever their current topic. They may turn out to be your most vocal online champions.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.