A cheesy marketer. Source: http://upandrunning.bplans.com/2010/01/15/spam-comments-and-more-spam/

I have been blogging for nearly two years now, and I have learned so much along the way. I still have much to learn, and I still consider myself a small blogger. I’ve never been that big on networking, and I have preferred to build small relationships here and there, and focus more on content.

There is a problem with this, though: We can have great content, or we can have a great product, but it doesn’t matter if people can’t find it!

One of the things I have learned is that networking is a big way to get out there, get help, and help others at the same time. I have seen it in the job market, where my recommendations were the catalyst in getting a couple of my friends employed at my former workplace, and where I myself have been able to get in because of recommendations from fellow colleagues. I have seen it in the blogosphere, where some people are absolutely amazing at getting themselves out there and connecting with others.

Networking is one way that we can get ourselves out there, but at the same time, networking can come across as shady. Nobody wants to come across as cheesy or as a douche. We all know that type of person, who pesters us relentlessly to sign up to their MLM scheme or other thing, and tells us how much we will benefit. They may be sincere, but there is a point where it becomes sleazy. We obviously look for a mutual gain when we seek out a new connection, but how do we do it without becoming a douche?

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Sometimes, we are so afraid of coming across as a douche that we are afraid to ask for help. I think this approach is too cynical, and I believe that many people are only too willing and glad to help, if only you give them the chance!

Let’s say you have been developing a niche site, for example. You have been spending some time on building up content, and now you want to give the site a little bit more visibility. One approach could be to approach an industry leader in the niche, and ask if you could offer a short post or blurb to be posted on their site. Since you believe in mutually beneficial relationships, you already have a link to them on your site.

In this case, what’s the worst that could happen? Unless you’re a spammer, you probably have decent content, and your intent is sincere. The worst that could happen is a “polite no”, but chances are that the person on the other end may be happy to help, and it could be the start of a great new relationship.

Give, in order to get.

The saying is true: if you help someone out, they are much more likely to be willing to help you in return. I prefer having something to give so that I feel that the relationship can be mutually beneficial.

Take link exchanges for example. We all know the type of marketer that asks you for a “blogroll exchange” or “guest post exchange”, without mentioning that their site is in a bad neighbourhood and they’re likely to benefit a lot more from the exchange than you will. This is what I consider to be a rather douchey form of marketing, since it is obvious that one party will be losing and one will be winning.

On the other hand, what if it’s a fellow personal finance blogger that wants to submit a guest post? You head over to the site, it seems clean and legit, and the posts seem pretty good. In this case, I see a guest post as a mutually beneficial exchange, even if our sites have different rankings. Why? I get some great content and I get to help out another blogger at the same time, building up a relationship with them. I am not a big blogger by any means, and I was once a complete newbie, so I understand what it’s like to be there.

Maximize your EV.

Sometimes, we look at the short-term gains, without considering all of the opportunity costs or tradeoffs. It can make more sense to take less of a gain today, so you can take more of a gain tomorrow. It’s advantageous to build a mutually beneficial relationship with someone, even at the expense of some short-term gains, because over the long run, the both of you can benefit a lot more.

I believe that getting over mistakes is an important part of maximizing life EV. Everybody messes up, and everybody makes mistakes, myself included. Maybe you did a faux pas at a dinner meeting? Maybe you said something on a public forum that you wish you hadn’t? As much as we like to try, we can’t be perfect all of the time. The big mistake would be to hold yourself back because you ended up making a big thing out of nothing!

Dear reader, what are your tips for networking and self-promotion, without coming across as a douche? I try to stir up some controversy from time to time, so don’t hesitate to call me out if and when I do cross the line. :)

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