The Psychology Of Online Interaction
I’m new to this link building thing. Despite being employed for over a decade (often times with more than one job), I’ve never had an office job. You know, where you have a set schedule and get a whole hour(!) for lunch. The most intimidating aspect of the job, at least for me, has been trying to convince someone I’ve never met to put a link about blue widgets on a website they’ve worked so hard on. Lacking a face-to-face interaction, it’s incredibly hard to figure out how the other person is feeling, what they’re thinking, and just how close I am to getting that link up.
Luckily, I do have a lot of experience in interacting with a large number of people from very diverse backgrounds. I’ve worked as a server, bartender, grocery clerk and just about everything in between. And the one common thread for all of my previous jobs has been the need to talk with people from all backgrounds, lifestyles, and economic conditions. From starving college kids that are vegan, gluten-free, etc. to wealthy, BMW driving socialites that want “the best possible product money can buy”, they all actually want one thing; and that’s to feel like you understand them and appreciate their needs. Yes, but how does that apply to link building? Well, I’ll tell you.There are three rules I live by when I’m working with clients. 1) listen, 2) learn, 3) repeat. That’s it.
Yeah, but how do I apply that to emails, you ask? I’ll give a real world example: First, you have to listen to what people have to say, not just based on what they say, but how they say it, the way they present themselves when they do it and frankly, how they dress, too. No, I’m not profiling people (I’ve never worked for the TSA!) but I am looking for clues that tell me where they’re coming from, what’s important to them, and how I should respond in turn. If I saw a kid come into the store with tats, a bike helmet, and a band t-shirt, I’m not going to talk to them the same way I would when I’m talking to the older lady with expensive jewelry. The kid in the shirt wants you to “be real” with them, skip the formalities (but still be polite) and just tell him where the (insert product) is located. If s/he has questions, they’ll ask. If not, you’re free to go about your business. Now the lady with all the jewels wants you to be “professional”. Don’t talk to her like she’s a friend, talk to her like she’s a paying customer. Be polite, courteous, and complimentary. Offer a couple of suggestions and let her decide for herself. But don’t say, “Oh, the product is on aisle 3″ and think you’re done with that interaction. I would take her there, show her the popular brands, and let her ask questions (I bet she’ll have some).
And that’s where the emails come in. If you “listen” to what a website has to say (is it a mom blog? a sports blog?), chances are, you’ll have even more of an advantage because you have an entire website devoted to what they love to do (and who they are). Check out the about page for a clear understanding of what’s important to them (and what isn’t). A mommy blogger will more than likely expect you to be courteous and professional, a guy who writes about how Lebron James sucks probably won’t require the same formalities. And this is important to know because you only have a limited amount of time to get these links up and a lost link because you weren’t responding well to emails will hurt you in the long run. So pay attention to each initial response email you get. That little bit of attention you put into checking out their site will probably save you a lot of time and effort.
Now, that you’ve listened to the webmaster, what have you learned? Well, (hey! are you listening!?) here’s what you should look for: 1) how many links are on their site? Is it a crappy site set up solely for profit with links that completely irrelevant? Next, please. However, if there are only a few, well-placed links, you’re good to go. 2) How well is the site “dressed”? Is the site aesthetically appealing? Can you navigate pretty easily? Or does it look like a site from the mid-90′s complete with the “Peanut butter Jelly guy”? Time to move on. 3) When you get a response from them, are they polite or short with you? I’ve had webmaster respond to an email with something like, “Depends on the price”. They’re going to the bottom of my “sites to do a due diligence for”. However, if they respond with “Yes, what are you looking for?” then I’m putting them at the front of the line.
So you’ve listened and learned, how do you respond? It’s simple really, just repeat. Respond to webmasters the way they respond to you. If they’re short and to the point, respond in kind (with a little extra effort) and they will appreciate you not wasting their time and yours with flowery compliments about their website. If, however, they have a real passion about their site and want to maintain a certain level of relevance and quality, go the extra mile to find the right page for your link. Compliment them for doing a good job and keeping up their site. I’ve landed so many links from webmasters that “introduced” me to their friends. It saves an amazing amount of time and effort when you have webmasters (with quality sites) that are already comfortable doing business with you par recommendation. Who says you can’t network without face to face interaction? Another tip is to try using their name (every time!) when you respond and always express how impressed you are with their website and how much you would like the opportunity to work with them. You just might be surprised how much people are willing to work with you once you use their name and a bit of flattery.
Just because you aren’t interacting face to face with your clients, that doesn’t mean psychology is thrown out the window. If you can figure out how to break the “electronic wall” and make at least a subtle connection with the webmasters you’re working with, your success rate will certainly go up (while your stress levels go down).