When Alan from The Thin Red Line posted a message on Blog Catalog saying that he and Dane Morgan were running a writing contest at Chain Drop, my interest was instantly piqued. After all, I'll take any excuse to write, and this excuse had the added benefit of being sponsored by a couple of bloggers I like and respect. What a deal. Or so I thought until I read the description and discovered that they wanted me to write about social networking and how to use it to your advantage.
That deflated me a bit for a moment, because...well...I DON'T use social networking. I just kind of go out into the blogging and Internet forum world and do what I do in real life. It took about sixty seconds for me to see the irony in my assessment. There I was, contemplating how sad it was that I had nothing to contribute to the effort set forth by these two interesting, knowledgeable bloggers I'd really come to appreciate in the Blog Catalog forums...you're way ahead of me, right?
So I thought I'd stop over and check out the actual rules, and this is what I found about midway through the opening paragraph: "Dane says to me 'what we need is to bring in all those Writers like in Tiffany’s writing group….They would write good pieces about how they use social networking'. " I guess that writers' group had slipped my mind for a moment. It's part of my non-social-networking campaign, I guess. It currently has 627 members.
So while I'm not doing any social networking, rarely thinking about driving traffic to my blogs, and posting to my blogs when--and only when--the impulse strikes, I am in fact getting regular traffic from a couple of social networking sites, meeting a lot of interesting bloggers, and amassing a writing group of several hundred members. Here's my secret: I show up in online places and do exactly what I'd do in real life. I talk to interesting people whose thought processes intrigue me and I answer questions when I can and lend a helping hand where I'm able. And people respond--at least a fair number of people--by visiting my blog and commenting on my posts and linking to me and Stumbling my posts, and the next thing I know, there's traffic.
Don't get me wrong. I'm quite sure that if I took a more calculated approach, there would be MORE traffic. But I think on some level, the foundation is the same as it was when our parents were whispering advice as we headed out the door to kindergarten or on our first dates: Just be yourself.