In high school, if you wanted to be accepted and well-liked, you had two options. You could be the kid. Be known for something – be funny, be a star, be brilliant, etc. Stand out for some special quality and get everyone’s special attention.
Or you could be connected. Be friends with everyone – the nerds, the jocks, the bandos, the theatre people, even the teachers. Get along well in each of their spheres.
Being the kid might be an option for some people, but if you’re like me, then it’s not really a desirable option. In high school, I didn’t care for getting special attention. It was much easier and more desirable for me to get along well with everyone than to work hard to stand out.
Making that choice, I had a smooth high school experience: no one picked on me, I got to connect with so many different people, I was active in different exciting activities and groups, and I didn’t feel left out.
And most importantly, I didn’t feel the pressure of having to perform, having to live up to anyone’s expectations. I could be myself and be well-liked.
Online, you’d think things would be different, but they aren’t. Life is still like high school. And your options are the same.
You can either stand out for something great. Something particular. Something remarkable or attention-worthy. Something people will share with their friends, and their friends with their friends.
Or you can be well-connected. Be friends with the right people – the right bloggers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs. Get along well in their spheres and gain access to their followers and subscribers.
It’s tempting to think that, if you want people to follow and subscribe to your site, you have to pick the first option, that you have to try to stand out.
But online, it’s important to remember: you don’t need to stand out to make a connection with people. You don’t need to be cool, brilliant, charismatic, etc. You just need to be open to getting to know new people.
And in an age where network is king, one of the easiest and most effective ways to get the attention you want online is to just connect with people. Ask them questions, comment on their sites, be useful to them.
Over time, these relationships will start to prove useful to you, as you start to build the support you need to be a strong online influence.