The most common assumption in internet marketing is that you get your traffic from search engine results.
This is why there is such a big focus on ranking in Google and finding the right keywords.
However, this is actually only part of the story.
For obtaining (and keeping) traffic many people entirely overlook the benefits of professional networking.
Personally, I think this is a pity, because when it’s done right, networking can extend the reach of a website considerably.
Getting Your Work Out There
One of the key ways of networking is to get your content published on other sites.
These might be sites that are similar to yours, complementary to yours or just big sites with a considerable reputation.
For example, on a health and nutrition site, I might look at getting content published on a site that looks at exercise or weight loss.
In that case, I could choose to write an article that focuses on some of the ways that eating healthy can contribute to weight loss.
As you develop a website, you end up becoming an expert in that area and that puts you in the position where you really do have valuable information to share.
There are a lot of places where you can go to do just that.
Now, it might seem a little counterintuitive to develop content then use it for someone else’s site rather than your own, but there are some good reasons why you should be doing this.
For starters, people only read content on your site if they actually get to your site.
You can use your content to rank your site through Google, but there are other ways to get traffic too.
Why not take advantage of other sites, ones that already have an established audience?
This isn’t really as difficult as it sounds.
One of the key things is to start contacting sites and look for who would be willing to host your content.
Sites like Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine can be great places to go, but they do take work. I’ll go into that in a little bit.
Niche and authority sites are often easier to network with, although their impact is also less significant.
In this case, you want to focus on finding sites that complement yours but aren’t in direct competition.
After all, you don’t want to be sending some of your traffic across to a site that does the same thing that you are trying to do, only better.
You Don’t Need a Reputation
If you trying to get a guest post on another site, you do have to sell yourself a little bit.
Don’t be too concerned if you don’t have much of a reputation yet, you don’t actually need one.
In fact, with how big and complex the internet is, most people find that they are pitching to other websites who have no idea who the person pitching is or what their website is.
So, you really have to assume that you are going to have to pitch yourself no matter what.
Over time, pitching yourself to other sites does get easier and it provides you with the basis for taking advantage of the benefits of networking.
Networking onto large sites is inherently challenging because they tend to be more difficult to get onto and there are also many more people looking for the same opportunity.
However, it really is worth trying, because these sites have huge audiences and getting anything published on there can have a huge role in your overall reputation.
Here, I’m talking about sites like Forbes, like Huffington Post and many other news sites like that.
One important approach for doing this is to get in contact with writers who write the type of content you are interested in writing.
It can take a while to get a decent response, but this is something that’s worth working at.
It can give you some insight into their process and into how they got their article posted.
A good way to open this type of dialog is simply to send the person an email, telling them how much you liked their article.
Even if you get a very basic reply, it is still a good place to start a conversation.
Once you have networked for a while, you can then use this person to get an introduction. This can be critical to getting the chance to post.
However, you do want to take this slowly, because people don’t like being manipulated, and most wouldn’t like the idea of you communicating with them solely to gain an interaction.
For these sites, and for any site for that matter, creating a portfolio is an important approach.
You can just use your own blog as a portfolio if you have been at it for a while as long as it offers the type of content you are looking at writing.
Remember, you are going to need a way to prove your writing style and quality to the people you are trying to appeal to.
So, if there is a big difference between your normal articles and the type of article you plan to write for a given site, setting up a few articles as a portfolio is probably a good idea.
It’s also important to take the time and actually research the site you are planning to post to. This is true for large and small sites.
You want to be looking at what type of content the site publishes, what does well and what doesn’t.
This is most important for writing for large sites because you may face significant competition.
For smaller sites, you are really looking at what the owner is going to find interesting and relevant. Either way, research will help you get where you need to go.
Being good at networking involves getting in touch with people.
Most website owners end up with a lot of spam emails and don’t have much free time, so you have to be very careful about how you approach them and what you say.
There are some very easy mistakes that you can (and should) avoid completely.
Misleading Subject Lines
Subject lines are the first thing that gets a person’s attention about an email, so it’s tempting to make the subject line as appealing as possible.
However, this only works if the subject line matches what you are talking about. So, avoid having a subject line like one of these:
Can You Help Me Out?
I Need Some Advice
If you do have a subject line like that, it’s absolutely critical that your email matches what you are saying.
Otherwise, you will end up pissing your reader off before you have even got your message across.
Get Your Research Done
Regardless of what you are talking about, you need to make sure you are accurate.
You can’t talk about a person’s online store if they don’t have one or about a type of content that the person’s site doesn’t have.
If you do, you make it immediately evident that you don’t know what you are talking about and this can be pretty offensive.
Most marketing emails are incredibly vague because they end up being sent to multiple different sites.
This isn’t the approach you want to take.
If you want to convince someone to let you guest post or to host a link to your site, you need to be convincing and this means tailoring the email towards that person and their needs.
However, you want to focus on including information that should be obvious from the person’s website, from their social media or from other common sources.
You don’t want to include information that you shouldn’t be able to know.
For example, some people find out about software that others use through alert systems or through relationships with vendors.
Even if you have that information – don’t use it. It makes you look like a stalker and that isn’t a good start to a relationship.
Remember, your whole point in contacting the person is to develop a networking relationship that benefits both of you.
This means you want to have a positive relationship and being misleading isn’t a good way of doing this.
The best way to get someone to do something for you is to make sure that it offers them a benefit too.
Networking is actually a process that helps all the people and sites involved if you do it right.
For example, if you post a guest post on someone’s site, some of the traffic from that site will end up on yours.
Likewise, some of your visitors are probably going to check out your post on the other site, getting them traffic as well.
Your post might also offer other advantages for the site you are posting on. For example, your content might be complementary to the site you are posting on.
This works very well if your knowledge and area can offer different insight into a topic that is relevant to the other person’s site.
This situation can result in a relationship where two sites regularly exchange links or guest posts.
It’s also beneficial to make sure that the first email contact talks about the possible advantages and actually provides something worth their time.
This might be a link to the type of content you are thinking about writing or it might be a link to something that you find particularly useful.
Professional networking can seem challenging, but it gets easier as you go along.
A good place to start is to connect with people who are also building websites, including people who are at a similar stage to you.
The best place that I've found for doing this is a site called Wealthy Affiliate.
Wealthy Affiliate is a training site for affiliate marketing and it's a great option for learning more about making money online.
But, the site is also driven by its community. As a result, there are a large number of members at Wealthy Affiliate (upwards of 400,000) and these members support one another and interact frequently.
This makes Wealthy Affiliate a great place to start for networking and you can find all sorts of connections on there.