Blog Log #4: 8 Keys To Making Lasting Online Connections

Blog Log

Advice


Pay attention, be genuine and be engaging. In return, your connections will soar. Photo by Shell de Mar.


Dale Carnegie, author of the wildly popular book How To Win Friends and Influence People once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Though he proclaimed this in 1936, the sentiment is as true today as it was then. I know it’s easy to make excuses with so many social media platforms to keep up with, let alone blogs. And we all have so much going on. But those 30 seconds you spend leaving a positive, insightful comment can really make someone’s day and make a lasting impression.

We all have different reasons for wanting to make connections. Sometimes, we come across a blog that’s incredibly cool and clever and think, “I want to befriend whoever’s behind that.” Other times, we notice someone in our industry that’s beyond insightful, not to mention hugely successful on their own terms and we want advice. Or, perhaps we need a favor or a recommendation. Our reasons for wanting to form online connections are different but no matter what our motives are, they should always come across as genuine and welcoming.

So, how do you make lasting online connections?

1. Help others through your content

This is going to sound like common sense but hear me out. If you’re a blogger and your content is all about you all the time, you will have a set amount of admirers. But, if your blog is about you but also aims to help people in a genuine way, whether that’s offering them advice or teaching them something new, your audience will be a lot more varied, and your reach more widespread. Do you have an area of expertise? Create a weekly or monthly series around it. The more you’re able to help people, the more they’ll be drawn to what you’re doing and in turn, keep you in mind when opportunities arise.

2. Put yourself out there

If you’re cowering in your bedroom and afraid to make that first that first move (even if it’s leaving a comment on someone’s blog or twitter), if you’re terrified to send that first introduction email, nothing’s going to happen. If you want change in your life, you have to create it. If you want friends, you have to open up. If you want industry connections, you have to find them. A big portion of my closest friends were made directly through blogging (you can read about that here) and starting a blog is a great way to share more about yourself (and draw in like-minded people) without sounding braggy. With blogs, you can create articles around a general theme instead of boasting on Facebook, “Hey, look what I did today!” which is almost always a turn-off.

And when it comes to email introductions, just hit send already! The worst possible thing that can possibly happen is no response at all. And that’s what you have now. So put yourself out there!

3. Contribute to the conversation

If you regularly leave comments on blogs and social media platforms that are genuinely adding to a conversation, it might take some consistency but they will get noticed. Likewise, if you get mentioned in an article, leave a quick comment of thanks and recognition. Use your manners and be gracious! These little tokens of appreciation do add up — create a memorable trail across the internet.

4. Help those who seek help

If someone writes a blog post or tweets about their quest for a specific item, send them some options (Kat is a total pro at this). If someone tweets looking for shops and restaurants to visit on vacation in a new city, offer up some recommendations. You can never go wrong by being helpful.

5. Link to content you love

Every week, I link to articles I find valuable and get the word out. Sending a chunk of traffic bloggers’ way is one of my small ways of giving back to those I respect and admire. I’ve actually become friends certain bloggers through regularly linking to them. A lot of the articles that you’re reading (including this one) might only take five minutes to get through but probably took the blogger a few hours to write. Link back to content you find valuable and show bloggers some love!

6. Attend every industry events

It’s not easy putting yourself out there but you’ll make valuable connections by showing up to industry events with an open mind (and a stack of business cards). Even the biggest bloggers can appear supremely confident on-screen and still be total wallflowers in person. If someone is standing around by themselves, make that first move. Talk to bloggers in the same the way you’d talk to a friend — always remember to play it cool! The second you start flailing your arms around and proclaiming, “Oh my god! I’m you’re biggest fan!” and smothering them, it becomes incredibly uncomfortable and you’ve just moved yourself down a level.

Think of it this way: If you were to run into a celebrity at the bar and casually strike up a conversation, they may engage you. If you squeal, try to hug them, snap a million photos and go on and on about their biggest accomplishments, you’re treating them as less than human. Would you treat your closest friends this way? Playing it cool takes practice but I promise, it will get you a lot further with the people you admire!

7. Stay consistent but not creepy

If you’d like to connect with someone, take it easy. Kat once said, “If it would be weird in real life, it’s weird on the internet” and she had a point! Comment regularly, show an interest and interact with the tweets of the people you’d like to connect with but don’t come on too strong. I know this is vague but if you have to ask how much is too much, you’re probably crossing the line! When interacting for the first time, think of how you’d act on a coffee date when meeting a new friend. Keep your interactions light, casual and conversational in the beginning.

8. If you’re asking for something, follow the golden rule

If you ever need a favor (and we all do at some point), always, always, always offer something in return! People will remember that small token of appreciation forever. I’ve sent Amazon digital gift certificates, bought dinner, coffee, offered design discounts, written testimonials and more in exchange for a favor. Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Even a simple “thank you” or a handwritten card can mean the world on a bad day. I have stack of handwritten thank you cards from past Blogcademy graduates sitting on my desk and each showcases their personalities beautifully. It’s inspired me to upgrade my thank you card arsenal as well. Sometimes giving thanks takes a budget no larger than a stamp.

In closing

Always be genuine, charming and humble. Above all, be yourself and doors will open.


If you’re searching for even more advice, these articles are extremely helpful:

1. Modern Etiquette by Grace Bonney of Design Sponge
2. Collaborations That Work… by Kat Williams
3. Email Etiquette for the Super Busy by 99U
4. The Best Goal is No Goal by Zen Habits (because sometimes, the best connections happen naturally)


View more of the Blog Log series here.

It’s your turn: How do you go about making connections in an authentic, non-slimy way? What’s been the best thing that’s come about from you taking that chance and reaching out?

In The Mood #3: Mod Madness

In The Mood

I couldn’t stay away from the mod trend for long! Every magazine I open up these days is jam-packed with stripes, op art patterns and I can’t get enough. I pulled those happenin’ shoes in the top left out of the newest Anthropologie catalog. And though I didn’t have enough room to include it, did you see J. Crew’s interpretation of graphic black and white patterns on their newest swimsuit collection? So good!

In The Mood

In The Mood

In The Mood

Shoes-wise, I included my Michael Kors Firebird wedges from 2004. You might remember them from my old blog header and business cards as well. Those Opal candies sitting on the very top are one of the goodies I brought back from Iceland. And the Ace room card is from my stay at the Design Life retreat last year. It’s so much fun mixing in all these bits and pieces from life, travels and magazines.

In The Mood


View more of the In The Mood series here.

Hello, Fancy Pants

What I Wore Fancy Pants

I loved the crazy geometric-covered looks at Prada last Fall but they weren’t exactly wearable. While I tore out all the looks when I spotted them in magazines, I filed the thought of wearing them in real life away for good.

Then, while on my maiden voyage through London in January, I spotted these much more wearable geometric fancy pants stuffed in the sale racks of Zara, deep inside a massive mall. In a softly structured light wool blend knit, they reminded me more of pajama pants than anything but hey, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Pajama-inspired details are big this season and celebs have been wearing pajamas as outerwear for years (my idol Michael Jackson owned the look).

What I Wore Fancy Pants

I Wore:

Sweater, H&M
Necklace, H&M
Bag, Versus
Pants, Zara
Boots, Proenza Schouler


Sometimes it’s nice to give my black BDG skinnies a rest and these will be a nice transition into Spring. And I see them getting a lot of wear because they’re by far the most comfortable pants in my closet (no cutting off the circulation in these!) which makes them perfect attire for sitting at a desk.

Modesquisse: Fashion Illustration Inspiration

Modesquisse Fashion Illustration

If you’re interested in fashion illustration, Modesquisse (French for sketch fashion) is for you! The site is dedicated to curating fashion illustrations on magazine and book covers and what’s especially wonderful is that it doesn’t just cater to current issues — instead, the collection goes back over a century! I love seeing what magazine covers looked like a hundred years ago and it’s interesting to note the lack of headlines cluttering the covers. Back then, the covers were works of art in themselves.

Modesquisse Fashion Illustration


* All images via Modesquisse.

The Week in Pictures: 3.1.13

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

How was your week? Mine was…full of organizing my taxes. Seriously exciting stuff! In between that, I also snuck in lots of walks with Rocky (yes, he’s wearing a holiday sweater! He doesn’t know any better!) and cleaning up my office (where do all these piles of stuff come from?!) It was actually pretty uneventful around these parts and hey, sometimes that’s a welcome change with so many projects and travel plans swirling for later this year.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Doing taxes and cleaning out my office are both such a drag but getting all my receipts in order and dusting off all my shelves did make me feel a whole lot better (only Virgos say that kind of thing, right?) I’ve also started working on some new projects for a few fashion clients and a stylist, all who I love so much — really feeling in my element design-wise right now, working with people I admire as fellow creatives.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

I’ve been really enjoying working on a new mood board every weekend for In The Mood and it’s probably a dorky thing to be excited about but I love collaging and it reminds me of a series I did off and on for a few years, Fashion Notebook.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Early every Sunday, we take Rocky on a walk through a different neighborhood. He gets bored with the same old walk (and our neighborhood isn’t the greatest) so it’s nice to get out and explore. He gets super excited getting to ride in the car and Joey and I grab a coffee and spend an hour wandering through new scenery. Over the weekend, we walked near Stumptown on Division — I love the flower selection at their cute little store next door.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Speaking of coffee, I stopped in Cellar Door and though I’ve been there dozens of times, only now just noticed their awesome receipt sign-off. Haha!

Well, I’m off to finish up those pesky taxes (it’s always a roll of the dice with how it’s all going to go down). Also, if you’re in LA, Joey is having a solo show tonight at 7 PM at Lethal Amounts Gallery on 1226 W. 7th St. He worked really hard on getting this show together and I’m so proud of him. Have a great weekend, everyone! Hopefully not filled with doing your taxes…

Link Love: 2.28.13

link love


A Llama in Times Square by Inge Morath


• The inventor of Pantone talks about how he first came up with the system and it might surprise you!

• No matter how glamorous things look from the outside, remember that freelance ain’t free.

• Good work isn’t enough. People that achieve the most success often share these qualities.

• I loved soaking in this interview: Vanessa Larson quit her stable job, packed her bags and moved to Paris with barely any French under her belt and is prospering in business school there.

• This simple diagram represents how to be happy in business.

• Garance Doré just gave a hugely inspiring interview on The Business Of Fashion and shares how she got her start in blogging and photography.

• When it comes to your freelance business, it’s up to you to set boundaries.

• Why Facebook makes you feel miserable.

• I’ve never seen another blogger post such detailed results of a reader survey! So good.

• Twelve legendary Hollywood stars at home!

• The second edition of Launched! is live, which features links of the latest blog redesigns.

• PHHHOTO is a social photo booth that makes animated GIFs.

•  We’re no longer just consumers because we think we have a much higher calling. We’re connoisseurs!


Can’t get enough Link Love? Find more right here!

Blog Log #3: How Blogging Has Opened Doors to Friendship and Career Opportunities

Blog Log

Advice


Blogging has opened doors that I never expected. Photo by Shell de Mar.


Last week, I shared the one thing I wish that someone would have told me when I first started blogging. This week has a slightly different twist — I’m focusing on the ways blogging has affected my life, mostly in areas I couldn’t have predicted. I really had no idea at the time just how many doors blogging would open.

As I mentioned last week, when I launched my blog on my own domain in August 2007, I was still in college. I wasn’t yet a full-time designer and I honestly didn’t know what purpose my blog would serve besides sharing snippets of my life and travels. I didn’t have a big, beautiful blogging plan and maybe that was for the best because I didn’t overanalyze what I was doing. I just posted what I loved on a daily basis, simple as that. The niche and the themed columns came later and because of that, there was a lot less pressure to live up to some preconceived standards.

Having a blog didn’t feel that revolutionary to me. Even at the time, I just made it part of my everyday routine. I’ve always heard that if you love something enough, you’ll find a way to make time for it. Blogging is the same way. Even though I didn’t have a master plan mapped out, slowly, I did start to notice doors opening in part because I had a blog. The more I blogged, the more my focus sharpened and the more opportunities can my way.

If you’ve ever felt disillusioned or burnt out or wondered why you keep your blog going, perhaps these stories I’m sharing today will inspire you to keep moving forward.


PROFESSIONAL DOORS

In 2007, I applied for an internship at Nemo Design. I had just finished my first year of community college and knew that’s where I wanted to be. I came in for an informational interview and along with sharing my portfolio, I mentioned my blog. Dave Allen was in charge of digital strategy at the time and also way ahead of the curve when it came to blogging and social media. I got the internship and the best part was that at Nemo, blogging was encouraged alongside design. Designers with blogs weren’t as common then and having that nurturing, encouraging atmosphere really helped me hone in on what I was doing — I still remember our meeting with a professional consultant who critiqued our blogs and walking away afterwards going wow, all those little details do matter.

The wave of change was slow but I remember walking into agencies for interviews over the next few years and getting recognized before I’d introduced myself. Portland’s design community is very tight-knit but it still felt surreal to get that instant recognition at studios I admired.

In 2010, I was freelancing at Nike and on my third day, I got called into a meeting with the head of the department. Of course my stomach dropped, wondering if I’d done something terribly wrong! They barely knew me, what could they possibly want? Was I getting fired?! Instead, I had an hour long conversation with the creative director, who’d recognized me from my blog — this was a guy who’d worked alongside Oprah in a past life! I got offered an interview.

Last Fall, as I was obsessing over the new Computer Arts Collection series and reviewing the issues on my blog, the magazine’s creative director caught wind of the posts and tweets. I was sitting in an airport when an email came in, offering me an 8 page feature. Once again, blogging was opening doors that I didn’t realize were there.

I am positive that these three opportunities would have never transpired without my passion for blogging.


PERSONAL DOORS

Beyond anything that’s transpired professionally, the friendships I’ve made through blogging are the most important. I met my friend Pam one day after she read my blog and sent me an email. We went out to dinner and became fast friends. I’d known Gala from Live Journal — we finally met up during the summer of 2008 in New York and my life was never the same — we now travel the world together with Kat (who we also met through blogging) with our workshop, The Blogcademy. I met Anna through Live Journal a decade ago and though we don’t get to see each other that often, I adore her design sense from afar. Meeting Star through blogging really impacted me — she became my close friend and web developer (she’s coded all my blogs!). Bianca is another friend I made — when I first met up with her on a street corner in New York, I had no idea she’d be photographing my wedding a decade later!

Last summer, I got on a plane and flew to Palm Springs to meet 20 other female designers for a retreat called Design Life. The key bond we all shared is that we ran blogs. Though I’d been reading many of their blogs for a really long time, seeing them in person for the first time was overwhelmingly positive and we’re still in contact, tweeting, commenting on each other’s blogs and sharing insights. Thanks to blogging, I now have a network of 20 amazing women across the country that share the same passion for design that I do.


TAKING THE BAD WITH THE GOOD

Blogging isn’t all a bed of roses, though. On the flip side of all these amazing opportunities, there have been people who haven’t felt the same way about blogging as I do.

Two years ago, I was sitting next to a freelancer at a design studio and we hit it off. One thing led to another and I shared my blog with him. He quickly scrolled through, soaking in all the details and then spent the next five minutes critiquing me in a condescending tone. “Your site should just be a portfolio. Why do you post all these personal photos? That stuff belongs on Facebook…your site should be dedicated to your work.” I was being torn down for letting people know who lived beyond the work. Even after all those years of blogging, I remember wondering if he was right. And then I remembered that not everyone is supposed to get what we do as bloggers. And that’s okay. Once you accept that, it’s easier to let go and set out with what YOU feel you’re supposed to do. It’s up to you to set your own boundaries and share as little or as much of yourself as you’d like.

When people come along and wonder why we share what we do on our blogs, I always go back to the mindset that we are so much more than our work. I mentioned this in the first Blog Log, but if all I did was share my design work, it would get really dull really fast for a lot of you. Yes, it’s scary putting yourself out there and there are going to be those people that don’t get it. But I promise, the payoffs far outweigh the bad. If I could start over, I’d do it all over again. I am a firm believer that people are interested in more than what you do, they’re interested in you. And the more they feel like they know you, the more opportunities will come your way.

Blogging is not always easy but to me, it is worth it.


View more of the Blog Log series here.

Your turn: What’s been the biggest door that’s opened for you because of blogging?