Networking is an essential skill for travel bloggers. Even if you have hugely impressive monthly page views and gazillions of highly engaged social media followers to really get your blog noticed you need to put yourself out there. Not just online, but in the real world! Networking events such as blog conferences and travel trade shows are the perfect opportunity to mingle with key people in the industry, exchange business cards and promote your travel writing/photography/vlogs face to face. It can be daunting, even for the most confident of people. It’s easy to hide behind a computer, tap tapping away on the keyboard and hoping that every PR person in the industry will notice your beautifully crafted work but in reality there are thousands of bloggers all hoping the same thing.
To help you network like a pro we’ve asked our travel blogger community to share their tried and tested tips. We’ve also asked them to reveal the networking events that are worth ditching your comfy office chair for.
Chloe from Wanderlust Chloe (our travel blogger of the month for July) admits that when she started blogging “I used to send a lot of emails just to get my blog name out there”. She noticed an increase in work and travel opportunities being offered to her when she started to “update my contacts with media kits and key bits of news, whether via email or by scheduling a meeting.” Chloe believes – “It’s important to strike a balance and pitch yourself without being too self-promotional or braggy. In terms of networking events, I’ve always found scheduling meetings at World Travel Market to be useful. Having that 1-2-1 time is invaluable, and sometimes you’ll meet the PR and the client – the perfect moment to really sell yourself. If I can secure one or two bits of paid work from that show I think it’s worth the many miles I clock up trekking up and down ExCel!”
Amanda from The Boutique Adventurer
started her travel blog 18 months ago and believes that networking has been vital in building her understanding of a successful travel blog and in driving followers and traffic. “I started with registering for both Traverse and Travel Massive, both of whom hold regular great events. I attended the Social Travel Summit in Kitzbuehl and TBEX in Ireland last year. I would highly recommend both events. I learnt massive amounts and also met a mix of more experienced and other newer bloggers.”
Macca from An Adventurous World believes its all about the personal touch – “Even though it’s very daunting at first, I still find the best way of networking and getting your name out there is going up to people and talking to them. When I first started out, I went to events such as Travel Massive, Traverse, gapyear.com meetups, anything to do with travel to meet like-minded bloggers and the companies behind them. Armed with a good professional business card and a little elevator pitch of what my blog was all about, I quickly found I was added to different PR databases and invited on trips. To me, it’s still all about the personal touch today – don’t hide behind an email, get your name out there!”
Keri from Ladies What Travel reminds us that networking takes place online and on your doorstep too – “I’ve found that getting involved in link ups are really helpful for getting your name out there, and helping you feel like part of a real community. It’s all about bloggers sharing each others content and helping spread the word!” Keri goes on to highlight the importance of networking locally with fellow bloggers and industry contacts. Like myself, Keri is a member of the Cotswolds Bloggers and Bristol bloggers and has found them to be “really great for networking. You meet other bloggers and businesses in your area, its a great way to grow partnerships and help support your local tourist industry”.
Carrie from Flying with a Baby
shares some sound advice regarding preparing for networking events – “Research the travel conferences and join blogging groups who are attending to discover insider tips. I think it’s worth attending a few different ones to find out which work best for you. Every conference has a slightly different angle; be it direct contact with the brands, PR or marketing teams or blogging skills. A couple of my favourites are WTM & Traverse. I’m also attending IMM this year and found the aviation festival useful to a point. For conferences, have your elevator pitch prepared, business cards and at least one hard copy of your Media Pack. Know your stats and your USP. You never know when it will come in useful!”
The main thing I’ve learnt about networking since setting up Travel Loving Family
three years ago is that the travel industry is a SMALL world. Make friends and KEEP friends! People move around the industry all the time. They may not be representing a travel company you are interested in working with right now but in the future they may be. I’ve recently been invited to review a cruise through a contact I made at a music festival, I’ve reviewed a villa in Italy after attending a food workshop… It’s important to make a good first impression so that you are thought of when these opportunities arise.
Finally, how can you network effectively when you don’t have the time to attend networking events?
Zoë from Juggling on Rollerskates
finds it difficult to attend networking events around her young family and limited childcare resources. “I’ve found researching local, small and establishing holiday companies such as local Glamping sites or Caravan Parks to be a really positive way of networking on a small scale. I use twitter and Instagram to identify local businesses that might need help promoting themselves to the family market. I try to find a direct contact through further social media research or via a preliminary tweet or email. I explain how much exposure I can offer the business and what my expectations of them might be. I have found this approach to work on numerous occasions and over the past year have managed to establish some really positive relations with local holiday companies”.
Need help pitching for press trips? Check back next week for more tips by our travel blogger community!