Welcome to the salt mines - Sheila Scarborough in the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson (photo courtesy BJMcCray at Flickr CC)In a previous post, I wrote pretty frankly about how to reach out to bloggers, and what makes us crazy.

Since I still get this question a LOT, it might be time to revisit the issue. Because the answer is simple in concept but somewhat time-consuming and difficult to execute, many won’t follow through, but here we go….

The magic bullets are these, from the perspective of one who has been blogging on various topics for almost five years now:

1)  Interact with bloggers on their turf, which usually means their blog, at a minimum, but often now includes Twitter, possibly Facebook, YouTube or Flickr if they’re an avid photographer.  You “interact” by being yourself, and leaving thoughtful comments on some of their blog posts, or bantering on Twitter, or leaving a comment on a few of their Flickr photos that you like. Be where they are, in their online neighborhoods.

Heck, get some cred and start blogging yourself, like savvy PR, marketing and communications practitioners Kami Huyse, Jason Falls, Liz Strauss, Valeria Maltoni, Tom Martin, Shannon Paul and Aaron Strout.

Don’t just parachute in and out of my email IN box or you’ll get nothing but Delete out of me.

2)  Interact with bloggers offline at the events they like to attend; it’s why tech conferences matter to non-techies.

Consider BlogWorld and New Media Expo, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), BlissDom, SOBCon, BlogHer, travel bloggers at TBEX, the Midwest’s I_Blog Conference plus numerous lower-key gatherings like Social Media Breakfast or local tweetups, Social Media Clubs and hacker groups.

We do that social networking thing IRL (in real life) too.

3)  Build a human relationship BEFORE you start lobbing pitches. Good practitioners have always known this; the social Web doesn’t change the need to “dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

Brands, think long and hard about why you want to “join the conversation” and how you want to connect what you offer and your company’s values with those “influencers” (getting really tired of this hackneyed term) who have painstakingly built independent voices online.

Bloggers, think long and hard before you let your voice and your blog become just another marketing mouthpiece.  Look for mutually beneficial relationships. Pam Mandel built one with TravelWild and several bloggers connected with G Adventures as “Wanderers in Residence.”

Want to know the glamorous story of how online influencers got so much, er, influence?

By busting their tails for many hours….often for little or no money in return….back when everyone thought they were nutballs (including most brands)….to create great content, be a helpful resource and do the networking necessary to become known and yes, influential, in the space you now seek to enter.

Welcome to the salt mines; here’s your pick-axe.

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