Sunday, July 4, 2010

Three Rules of Blog Commenting for Fun and Profit

Any discussion of community and network building will inevitably touch upon commenting on other people's blogs as a great way to both promote yourself and expand your own sphere of influence. Here's three simple rules of Comment Etiquette that will set you on the right path.

Give to Get

The very best way to gain respect, increase your network and make friends is to share information. You have knowledge about your field and there are people who need and want it. Make yourself as available as you can to them. Offer advice when it's asked for, sympathy where it's needed and generally be an open book that people can turn to when they need a prompt.

Use your knowledge to set people on the right path and offer up lessons gained from your experience to provide others with a mentor or peer they can turn to when the chips are down.

Don't Sell - Talk

Writing a compelling comment takes humility. When you comment on someone else's blog, make sure the focus is on their content and what you can add to it. You have a unique perspective, unique experiences, but that person's blog is not about you. Don't take the opportunity to shift the focus onto yourself. It feels forced...and a little selfish. This is their blog - help them out. Add something to the conversation; present a new option. Don't derail the conversation in this space by pointing to another one somewhere else, unless it's really relevant to the topic at hand. And don't take that moment to pitch your exciting new product. It's not going to be as welcome as you might expect.

Avoid Zingers

There's an expectation in some spaces on the Internet that conversations have "winners" and "losers." For a lot of good (and bad) reasons that I won't be going into here, conversations on the Internet are often seen as battles that have to be won. And many people believe that the sure way to "win" a conversation is to kill it.

In reality, comments are only worth as much as they further a conversation. Your zinger may give you the feeling of a "win," but really, you've lost - not only is the conversation dead for everyone, you'll get a reputation as a troll.

Before you comment, ask yourself - is this comment going to contribute to the conversation? Will it prolong it? Am I opening doors or shutting them? Of course, we all have a moment or two when we're not in the most tolerant mood, but the more often you take a moment, breathe, and set down a comment that keeps the conversation going, the more you'll get a reputation as someone worth listening to.

As a colleague says, "First Thought Wrong," by which she means that it's important to take a moment - make sure you breathe - and consider what is about to come out of your mouth.

Use the same consideration on other people's blogs as you'd like on your own - share information, keep the conversation going. Then your comments will be seen as a valuable addition and you as a valuable resource.
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