One of my favorite radio shows I enjoy is The Danielle Lin Show.
Every Saturday her program features experts in the fields of healthy living, positive change, leadership, personal development, and a forum for change through communication.
This weekend Danille Lin featured John Maxwell, an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, coach, and author who has sold over 19 million books. John Maxwell discussed how people connect for success and how they often don’t understand the importance of connection when trying to succeed in a public forum.
His wisdom caused me to reflect on a question I hear from so many bloggers, “Why isn’t anyone commenting or sharing my blog posts?”
The answer is always that the blogger isn’t creating a consistent connection with the reader.
It’s not uncommon for new bloggers to spend the first year (or longer) writing blog posts that they want to deliver — verses blog posts readers want to read. In order to create engaging web content, a blogger must understand how important the reader is to what they blog about.
When a blogger only offers content that they want to share over exploring what the reader wants to read, they fail to find a common ground with their audience and a community connection never builds. If the blogger doesn’t change his or her approach, their blog will never see real success.
You can be the best writer in the world, but if you cannot connect with your readers, no one will comment or share your blog content.
John Maxwell states that there are many reasons people who provide for the public neglect to find common ground, but here are his top 4, which I think are EXACTLY why bloggers don’t become top bloggers:
The blogger thinks, “I don’t need to know what my readers know, feel, or want.”
Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis observed, “Nine-tenths of the serious controversies that arise in life result from misunderstanding, from one man not knowing the facts which to the other man seem important, or otherwise failing to appreciate his point of view.” A blogger’s arrogance builds a barrier between them and their readers when they hold to their way of writing (often writing that got them good grades in school) to be the only right way to share information with their audience.
The blogger thinks, “I already know what my readers know, feel, and want.”
“All miscommunication is a result of differing assumptions,” says Jerry Ballard. We need to be like a good tailor. Every time we have an opportunity to connect with the public, we take new measurements. A tailor never assumes people are the same as the last time he connected with them. When you make assumptions about the people you are trying to connect with, “you stop paying attention to people and miss clues that would otherwise help you to find and reach common ground with them.”
The blogger thinks, “I don’t care to know what my readers know, feel, or want.”
Indifference is really just another form of selfishness. Bloggers who are indifferent are focused on themselves and their own comfort instead of extending themselves and finding the best way to relate to their readers.
The blogger thinks, “I don’t want readers to know what I know, feel, or think.”
Maxwell says that finding common ground is a two-way street. Great bloggers and leaders “inform people, make them a part of what is going on, and include them in their decision making whenever possible. You cannot establish common ground if you refuse to let anyone know who you are or what you believe.”
If you want to succeed in life, you must learn how to connect with others and if you want to have a successful blog you must learn how to connect with, and draw in your readers.
Maxwell asks, “Have you ever heard of someone who is said to have a charmed life? Usually those are people who have learned how to connect. When you connect with others, you position yourself to make the most of your skills and talents.”
How do you connect with your blog readers?
John Maxwell says it’s often our attitude that gets in the way of our blogging success. “The ability to connect with others begins with understanding the value of people.” It’s the ability to be selfless in your interaction with your readers.
It is about asking yourself: “Am I going to make this blog post about my readers or me?”
Bloggers need to get the cold, hard fact that “your focus must be on others — and this is often the greatest hurdle people face in connecting with others.” He points out that it is just too easy to get caught up in what we are doing to the point where we place it and ourselves at the center of the universe.
If I had a dollar for every time I have watched a blogger do this on each and every blog post, I’d be a very wealthy person.
Maxwell says, “Good teachers, leaders, and speakers don’t see themselves as experts with passive audiences they need to impress. Nor do they view their interests as most important. Instead they see themselves as guides and focus on helping others learn.”
Maxwell shared with Danille Lin what it was like when he first started out as a minister. He joked and talked about how his kids used to pray that he wouldn’t be boring anymore. Maxwell could tell that he wasn’t connecting with his audience and this left him feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. He kept asking himself and his wife,
“Why aren’t they listening to me?”
“Why aren’t people following me?”
“What am I doing wrong?”
This is when he offers up some very profound advice. Can you tell what is wrong with the above 3 questions?
The problem is that the questions Maxwell is asking are centered around the word ME because his focus was still on himself even when he thought he was thinking about the audience.
Maxwell points out that those three questions are proof that he was too self-absorbed in his attempt to connect with the public, and as a result, you always fail to connect with people when your focus is on the word ME. Maxwell confesses that he was trying to get ahead by correcting others when he should have been trying to connect with others. He was asking the wrong questions the wrong way and the type of questions he was asking himself were focused on I and ME instead of YOU and YOURS.
True connection happens when a blogger makes their readers feel like a valuable part of the blogger’s content.
The blogger should always ask himself/herself at the end of each blog post:
Does what I have written increase my value of you?
Is what I have written about you and what you want to read from me, or is it yet another example of me writing what I want to write?
The ability to write well is not the same as the ability to be a successful blogger. Being a good writer helps, but good writing alone will not make people share your content, or comment on your blog posts.
A top blogger must have the capacity to construct genuine, heart-felt blog posts that address what the reader wants to read, then listen for feedback from as many readers as possible and truly accept and process the feedback while continuing to strive to blog in a way that connects the blogger on a common ground with their readers.
Maxwell will tell you that focusing your attention on your audience is one of the hardest things for a true communicator to do, but is absolutely essential if you want to achieve any kind of lasting blogging success.
To be a top blogger you must find where your potential audience hangs out and LISTEN.
Listen to their problems, their concerns and what they are yearning to understand. Hear who they are and then reach out to them and offer how your blog can help them succeed in life, or make them feel like they are not alone.
Give to your reader first before you ever expect anything in return.
Catch yourself every time you say, “Hey, I think this would be great …” and replace it with “Hey, my readers think this would be great…” and see where your blog writing takes you.
Remember that bloggers kill their top blogging dream when they refuse to make a conscious choice to always put the reader first when they begin their blog posts.
How do you think bloggers kill their ability to connect to possible loyal readers?
For more on John Maxwell, visit his website: www.johnmaxwell.com
Visit his blog at: www.johnmaxwellonleadership.com
John Maxwell on Danielle Lin: www.daniellelin.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/everyone-communicates-few-connect
More on John Maxwell on The Leading Blog: www.leadershipnow.com/leadingblog