You remember that scene from the first of the original Star Wars movies, right? There are imperial stormtroopers (bad guys) looking for the two droids, C-3PO and R2-D2. But then Obi Wan Kenobi, the master Jedi (good guy), waves his hand and, using The Force, says, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” And then the head stormtrooper says, “These are not the droids we’re looking for.” Obi Wan, Luke, and the droids continue on their merry way toward all sorts of mischief and (mis)adventures.

Wouldn’t it be sweet to have that kind of control over your readers and other bloggers that you interact with? To just wave your hand and say, “Leave a comment,” “Link back to my blog,” “Promote my product,” and they do just that?

Well, keep reading. I’ll be Obi Wan, you be Luke, and I’ll teach you how to use the force.

The first six of the eight main points below were gleaned from Dale Carnegie’s uber-classic How To Win Friends and Influence People, under the heading “Six Ways to Make People Like You.” As you will see, I’ve tweaked them and geared it specifically toward bloggers and added examples and commentary.

So, I present…

Yes, I'm a nerd.

Become genuinely interested in them

You can influence people once they see that you’re genuinely interested in them. Let’s break this up a bit.

How can you become genuinely interested in other people?

Here’s how:

  • Have pure motives. Don’t like someone just because they’re a popular blogger.
  • Learn about them. Read their About pages.
  • Be yourself. When you’re being yourself, the other person will sense that and be himself/herself.

Ok, that’s awesome, but…

How can other people become genuinely interested in you?

First off, provide great content. This is the oldest blogging trick in the book, but it’s still important. People will be interested in you if you’ve got something awesome to say.

And second, it’s not a coincidence that interested and interesting share the same root word. Be interesting and people will be interested in you. Write good content and people will be interested in you. Be the kind of person that you are interested in and people will be interested in you.

Smile

Why is smiling (and I’m going to consider smiling synonymous with being happy) so important? A smile shows that you’re friendly, and people naturally feel more attracted to people who smile. A smile is welcoming. A smile says, “Yeah, I’m a nice person. If you email me, I’m not going to rip your face off.”

Ok, that’s great, but how can you smile over the internet? How can you express that happiness online? Here are a few ways:

  • Have a photo of you smiling. In whatever photo you use as an avatar and in whatever profile pics you use, be smiling.
  • Use emoticons. Yes, emoticons are kind of dumb and maybe a little bit juvenile, but they do convey that feeling of happiness and excitement. Don’t use them too often, but one in each bit of correspondence (email, comment, tweet, etc.) never hurts. [Note: Only use these in informal situations!]
  • Use exclamations! I love it when people use exclamations in their comments (I’ve noticed that Elise does it a lot). I think of each exclamation mark as an energetic e-high-five. And when’s the last time you high-fived without a smile on your face? Exactly. It’s pretty much impossible.

And just be a nice person! Be a cafe in winter; that is, be open, warm, and pleasant.

Be a good listener & encourage others to talk about themselves

There are two parts to this one: 1) be a good listener, and 2) encourage others to talk about themselves.

How can you be a good listener? Well, you can do it on your own blog by responding to the comments. This shows your readers/commenters that you’re listening. Respond quickly to any emails you get. Send out thank-yous when people retweet your stuff.

Ingrid did this awesomely in one of her recent posts. She wrote a 17 Things You Don’t Know About Me post and then asked her readers to do the same in the comments. It was great! She encouraged others to talk about themselves AND she listened (she replied back to my comment).

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest sound in any language

Don’t they say that saying the other person’s name is an important part of flirting? [Yes, they do!] When you leave comments on other blogs, start out with a Great post Steve! If they retweet your posts, how about a Thanks for the RT, Barbara!

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

If you want to get my attention, talk about rock climbing. Vernon did this recently when he sent me a link about rock climbing in his home country of Namibia. If you want to make Patricia’s day, ask her more about lavender.

Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely

The best way to do this is through complements. I got a fantastic email yesterday from Carolina that just made my day. She said how much she enjoyed my blog and how much she got out of it. And you know what? I lapped it up and loved every word of it! But I know she was sincere about it. She wasn’t trying to get anything from me, she just wanted to express her appreciation. And that made me appreciate her! Allan has done this, too, and he’s definitely gotten my attention.

Speak like a chameleon

You know, blend in with your surroundings! When I comment on Jay’s blog, I’m not afraid to throw a “Dude!” in there. I know he’s a 20-something guy like me. But you probably won’t see a “Dude!” comment from me on Ileane’s blog.

Obviously you shouldn’t be someone you’re not (I don’t want any 80-year-old commenters calling me dude), but be aware of what you’re saying and who your audience is.

Be a superfan

I’ll talk about this more in a future post, but if you really want to get in someone’s good graces, be a superfan (remember the cheesehead hat from my last infographic?). Comment on all of their posts, be an avid retweeter of their content, and tell them how much you appreciate what they’re doing. But keep in mind what I talked about a few paragraphs up about being sincere, and don’t be a creepy or annoying stalker.

*Thumbs up!*

Now that you’ve got the Force, what will you do with it?

Well, you’ve completed your training and now you’re a full-fledged blogging Jedi. What are you supposed to do now? Well, armed with your new power and influence, you can comfortably and safely

  • Ask to guest post on people’s blogs (and have a better chance of being published),
  • Ask for help.
  • Ask for favors in regards to promoting (retweeting, linking to, etc.) your content.
  • Ask your new friends to be affiliates for your products (and they’ll do it because they trust you).

And probably several other things that I can’t think of right now. Pretty sweet, huh?

Closing credits

Always remember, however, that there is a dark side to the Force. These tips here DO work, but don’t abuse them. Don’t take advantage of people’s good-natured-ness. Don’t pester people. Use common sense and basic social skills!

In other words, use your powers only for good.

What has worked well for you? When people have gotten in your good graces, how did they get there? How do you go about building relationships online?

Oh, and if you want to examine this topic in more depth, you can check out How To Win Friends and Influence People on Amazon.