My buddy Andy Wibbels just distracted me from a post I have been trying to write all morning by his “Asking for Link Exchanges is Tacky.” In his no b.s. way, he says:
“I hate hate hate when I get emailed out of the blue by somebody I’ve never met and they want me to add their link to my site OH GOODY they are going to add mine to theirs.
Link farms are so 1997. Jesus, people.
Only thing worse is: HEY ANDY I FOUND THIS GREAT NEW SERVICE and then they link to it and it is a frigging affiliate link.”
I got a little riled up when I thought about it, because I too get bewildered by “link exchange requests” that come with no warning, out of the blue, from people I have never met.
Some of Andy’s commenters were a bit frustrated by the post, saying (me paraphrasing) “OK, so we know what NOT to do, but what SHOULD we do to get more incoming links and increase our Technorati ranking?”
Where I think we get tripped up is in separating typical “online” networking protocol from “offline” protocol.
What I said in a comment to Andy is: “Would you really walk up to someone that you had never met at a networking function, stick out your hand, introduce yourself and say “Hi Andy — I’m Pam, and I was wondering if you could include information about MY business in your next newsletter? Better yet, could you put my picture on a big slide in your next presentation?”
Of course you would not do that. Just as you would not go up to someone you had never met and plant a big, wet kiss square on his (or her) lips.
A kiss is intimate and personal, for heaven’s sake. And built on getting to know each other. And like and trust each other. All this takes time and conversation. And as any pained teenager can tell you (having been one myself), the best kind of kiss to get is when the kisser does it spontaneously because they WANT to kiss you, not because you ask for it.
Blogs are personal. You can get to know a lot about people by what they write, the look and feel of their site, their picture (or lack thereof), who they link to and what kind of things they promote. You should be thoughtful and, yes, picky about what you put on your site, not to be arrogant or shut anyone out, but because a big part of what people will find valuable about your blog is thoughtfully screened content and resources.
If you set a table up in a mall and offer a kiss to anyone willing to pay a dollar for it, it loses its precious value and appeal.
So maintain your honor and don’t fling yourself at unknown suitors until you are sure you know they have your best interests in mind. Take the time to gently introduce yourself, get to know people who interest you, and if you have a real, mutual “attraction” that stands the test of time, links and pings and bookmarks will happen naturally.
Finally, a last bit of advice that you can take with a grain of salt, since I realize it is my own pet peeve: Never ask for a link. Seduce it.
For a bit more information, I hammered on this topic last Halloween with some more networking tips on How to Avoid Fright-Inducing Link Sharing Techniques.