Six ways to grow your business through the power of connections

For modern day entrepreneurs, running your own blog has become a viable career choice where the word 'office' can translate to your own front room, a co-working space, or - if you’re a travel blogger - anywhere in the world.

But moving from a part-time hobby to a profitable business takes work and an ability to build connections. Here’s how the professionals use online and offline connections to mould their successful blogging careers.

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Be ready to communicate

Jayne Gorman is founder of Girltweetsworld.com - a blog where stylish travel meets social media. And while she is a social media expert, she firmly believes in face-to-face networking. "I gained my first freelance client after speaking on a panel at a travel conference," Gorman explains.

"I’d been speaking about blogging to what I assumed was a room full of bloggers, but it turned out a small business owner was in the audience and they liked what I had to say. They ended up hiring me to manage their company’s blog and social media and the freelance work I gained off the back of it, enabled me to quit my job and launch my full-time blogging business.

"Always think of the end game at industry events. Be on brand and be ready to communicate - you never know where a future client may be hiding."

Networking takes time

Photographer and journalist Chris Osburn has won numerous awards for his website Tikichris.com. He says successful networking requires patience.

"Networking is essential, but don’t go into a networking situation expecting immediate results," notes Osburn.

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"I’ve had awesome opportunities come my way a few years after meeting someone and from indirect referrals. Stay open to whatever arises in the conversation and get contact details from the people with whom you want to keep in touch. Follow up with an email and suggest another meeting. This way, you’re not waiting for someone else to kick things off."

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Don’t overlook the importance of email

Becky Wiggins runs Englishmum.com - an award-winning family food, travel and lifestyle blog. She says don’t underestimate the power of 'plain old email'.

"My personal rule is to send a professional reply to every single approach that I receive, whether I’m interested in it or not," Wiggins explains. "I’ve lost count of the number of times that those same brands or companies have come back to me at a later date with interesting opportunities, possibly just because they were treated courteously the first time."

"One of my longest standing business partnerships was born after a company contacted me asking me to suggest fellow bloggers in a different genre. That five minutes of helping out led to a fantastic future opportunity for me."

Join a serious blogger collective

Terry and Sarah Lee run Livesharetravel.com - a luxury travel and lifestyle magazine, which has picked up various accolades including a Travel Media Award in 2015.

They are co-founders of digital marketing group Captivate and work with iambassador – a company that enables tourist boards and brands to forge marketing campaigns with professional bloggers.

"Being part of a professional blogger collective such as Captivate or iambassador has significantly helped enhance our brand recognition, reputation and income," says Sarah.

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"Brands want to work with bloggers who can provide quality work, professional attitudes and understand a brand’s business objectives. Blogger collectives such as these do that and so create a win win situation for brands and bloggers alike."

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Combine face-to-face and online networking

Travel blogger and public speaker Julie Falconer set up Aladyinlondon.com in 2007 and it became her full-time career in 2010. She works with prestigious brands and her site is often cited as one of the top blogs in the UK.

"Don't underestimate the power of face-to-face networking with fellow bloggers and partners, combined with subsequent online networking," Falconer says. 

"By attending blogger events such as Travel Massive and Traverse, I've built relationships with other bloggers who have helped share my content. I’ve stayed updated on blogging trends and met prospective business partners, which has led to various projects such as sponsored trips and Instagram campaigns."

Extend your work into the real world

Adam Groffman quit his job as a book designer in 2010 to move to Berlin and launch Travelsofadam.com. His website often makes it into Top 20 Travel Blogs lists and has featured in newspapers and magazines. 

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"Last summer, I started an offline networking group - Make Friends in Berlin - with my friend Cheryl Howard. It has served as an outlet for us to share tips and help newcomers get acquainted with living in a new city. We've grown into a community of over 1,000 members and regularly have meet-ups of 100-150 participants. It’s allowed us to network with new people and extend our blogs out into the real world."

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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