Last week at Search Engine Strategies I finally had the pleasure of meeting up with Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home. Wendy and I have been emailing since last April when she first contacted me to interview me for a feature she was running on her site. As we sat and chatted about some of the things we've worked on together and some things that are coming up, it reminded me of just how important it is to take the time to reply to your emails.

I've long promoted the idea that link building is relationship building and social media marketing is about being part of the passion. My general philosophy of online marketing is to treat people well and to provide them with value. I trust that in return, I'll eventually gain some value myself. In fact, I wrote a three part series about using the tenets from Andrew Carnegie's book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" as the basis of your online marketing campaign.

The same thing holds true for your inbox.

See, last April I received an email from Wendy telling me about an article she was writing on the "Moms of SEO." She was looking for some information on the industry and reached out in the hopes I could provide it. I'd never heard of Wendy, but I fired off a quick email telling her I'd be happy to help and to send over the information she needed. She sent it, I told her what I could and she got the article up.

That first email resulted in a flurry of emails back and forth over the next few days and we totally hit it off. I made mention to Robert of the article and he got all excited, telling me "That's the eMoms at Home lady! She's awesome!." Surprised that he'd heard of her, I made my way to her site and started reading. What I'd thought was "just another blog" was actually one of the fastest growing resources for work at home parents on the Internet. In fact, Wendy was also writing a column for Entrepreneur Magazine.

Feeling a little embarrassed, I sent Wendy an email admitting I'd had no idea who she was, but had now started reading her work and just loved it. We had a good laugh and not long after, we became an advertiser on her web site. A week or so later, Wendy published an interview with me. Things spiraled along from there. Wendy invited me to go head to head in Daily Blog Tips "Blogger Face-Off."

We've since gone on to talk about working together on some projects, to team up for Search Engine Guide to sponsor one of her readers to attend BlogHer, to bounce ideas off of each other and to help build each other's networks. Wendy landed a speaking gig for me earlier this year and I've asked her to come on board as a speaker at our upcoming Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference.

Why do I say all this?

To make you realize there's a potential business gold mine in your inbox, just waiting for you to discover it. While I built a relationship with Wendy because we hit it off personally and because I now consider her a friend, there's also no denying the business benefits we've both reaped from our relationship.

It's easy to focus on power networking...building those key relationships you know will help you get ahead. It's easy to skip over the email in your inbox from the name you don't know. It's easy to find yourself asking "is there something in it for me" before you take the time to give something to someone else. Ultimately, it's easy to miss opportunity.

Meeting Wendy last week and having the chance to chat with her, meet some of her friends and introduce her to some of mine reminded me that the very best business relationships often come from taking the time to build a friendship. When I answered Wendy's email last year, I figured it would be a one-time thing that ended up with some content for Wendy and a link for me. Little did I know we'd both end up gaining significant value from our relationship.

If you are a small business looking to build links, network, leverage social media and increase your online reputation...consider starting with your inbox.

December 11, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


I agree and I'll take it one step further: be nice to folks that are having trouble and may be a bit of a pest.

One of my hobbies is writing science fiction. I'm the webmaster for a SF workshop and one of our new members was totally clueless about how to deal with our site, even though it was fairly straightforward. The boss lady wanted to drop the newbie as too much trouble, but I stuck with her until she was comfortable with it.

It's a year later and that lady and I are starting a new business together (in addition to the one I already have).

You never know . . .

I've enjoyed getting to know both you and Wendy through your personal blogs this year. Yes, it always pays to be nice! I read a post/article recently called something like "Always Act Like Your Mother is Watching." The title brings up all sorts of visuals for me. :-)

I have started and SEO endeavor myself...would love to talk to you about it in the new year! We will be targetting some keywords that I think you would find interesting.

Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Be Nice - You Never Know Who That Email is From