Real Life Link Building Techniques for Busy Adults


How many mails do you get daily? How many notifications do you get on social networks? How many pieces of content fight for your attention each day?

Compare that to the number of real life interactions with family and friends, the number of hand written letters you get and the number of phone calls you are pleased to receive. Unless you are very lovable and popular person I assume that your online interactions prevail over your real life.

Young people socialize all the time. As adults we have so many tasks to accomplish every day both at work and at home that socializing doesn’t happen that much anymore. It requires effort. So we use the Internet a lot of the time to replace in person contact.

Now add real life link building to the already busy schedule and we get overwhelmed or do we?

It’s a myth that online conversations allow us to connect faster. Yes, they seem to take less time initially. You can send a few emails back and forth on the same day but it takes one short face to face encounter to forge a better connection. Something tangible sent via snail mail can have a much bigger impact than several annoying “reminder” emails.

There are basically three ways to build links in real life that is not solely virtually via the Internet. You can contact people by

Snail mail

Sending someone a letter is really old fashioned by now. Who has the time? Who cares enough? When you take a closer look at the time and effort vs the results you will notice that while it takes just a minute to send off a quick mail it rarely works out based on the standard sender – receiver communications models. In most cases you won’t get a reply or you won’t even know whether the receiver even received the message.

Additionally even a successful exchange of email messages seldom leads to something of value unless there is already some kind of connection established. What does this mean? You need to know who writes you, whether you trust and like that person etc. The first thing I told my teenage daughter when I set up an email address for her was that

opening email messages from strangers is a risk for security reasons.

So you end up crafting your outreach emails for hours and even in case you automate some processes you will need a lot of time to convince even those who reply to you via email. I have had real difficulties to explain what I want from bloggers once even when they were willing to cooperate with me sometimes. Some would write about the topic I asked them to cover but they failed to mention my client or link to them for example. So at the end I was mailing back and forth several times before a link actually “happened”.

Compare that to a snail mail outreach campaign I witnessed recently. Indeed I was part of it as one of the “influencers” to get approached. I get contacted a lot for my cycling blog but this was someone who send me a gadget because of my SEO blog. He also documented his case study extensively. The success rate was astonishing even given the proper preparation.

I have written for many blogs for years and still do for some that do not deal with SEO.

I get PR and outreach messages because of those current and past writing gigs. In some cases I just get send products out of the blue, books for example. I read a lot of books lately so that I review most of these books. So that works well too. I don’t know how long it takes to send a book and add a somewhat generic message to it. It certainly takes less time than sending half a dozen of email over the curse of days or even weeks.

Google itself has been sending out Adwords postcards with vouchers for 50 Euros already years ago around here as far as I remember.


Calling someone up is pretty official isn’t it? Just think of it, sending an email is completely informal. You get dozens of even hundreds of email messages a day and discarding them is just business as usual. Hanging up on the phone is a different thing. You have to be either rude and get angry to do it. Sadly I mostly get annoying calls, automated messages that try to sell me something, completely irrelevant surveys that also breach my privacy and alleged sweepstakes I took part of.

My wife who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine gets a bit more relevant calls. Usually she gets approached by medical supplies vendors but she also got called by Qype salespeople before it got acquired by Yelp. She considered that offer very thoroughly and didn’t just hit “delete”. In fact she even took advantage of their free trial offer but the test results weren’t good enough to start paying for it after the three months period. Also I advised her against feeding her own competition because Qype sometimes outranked her. In any case the phone outreach was a success.

Some of my best links came to me via the phone too.

I mean journalists who have approached me because of my various blogs. In 2005 I was approached by a journalist who interviewed me that way about the then still new trends called SEO. She worked for Germany’s most important economic weekly.

I was once contacted by a freelance journalist who worked for a local bank on a short article about cruiser bikes. She found my cycling blog that covers cruisers a lot and interviewed me. This bank is basically part of huge coop of local banks. Over the years numerous of the local banks republished that article online. So I got lots of authority links from these banks.

I have written about design, gadgets and technology for a client blog for several years. In that blog I was critical of Apple early on. When Apple criticism finally went mainstream due to the many suicides in Apple manufacturing in China the national public radio was looking for an outspoken Apple critic. They chose me of course. They interviewed my in the studio and even paid me a few hundred Euros for my time.

What I want to say is that you don’t expect low level approaches on the phone. When someone calls s/he has a good reason to so I listen more closely. Think about something you can offer: products, events or even publicity and reach out by the phone then.


As I also write about bikes and cycling for a few years now I get a lot of outreach messages from related manufacturers. I don’t have that much time to take care of my bike blog, it’s more of a hobby by now so that I barely manage to reply to all of them let alone test all the products they want to send me.

There is one PR agency specialized in cycling products that has found a good way of dealing with bloggers like me but also paid journalists: they stage an event twice a year where they present new products from several manufacturers at once. The first time I attended we were fewer than a dozen of bloggers and maybe one journalist. Last time I had already difficulties in takes photos because there were so many other people standing around and shooting pictures and videos.

You can test the bikes and appliances or helmets you can even dress up in cycling gear. I get notified months earlier so that I can plan the time to go there. I get reminded like a every few weeks that it will take place. All in all the organizational effort must pay off for both the PR firm and the manufacturers as they can even afford to hire a local film or TV star to present the products each time.

I also get invited to the local cycling fair every year as a reporter. I went there already twice because it takes place during the weekend.

Another good example of proper face to face real life link building is what Dyson does. They’ve sent me a product to test once a few years ago and stay in sporadic contact ever since. That is they don’t email me every week with a new irrelevant press release but only once a few months when something major gets released or they take part in a trade fair nearby. Sometimes they also invite me to Dyson specific events.

The latest one even took place in the British Embassy in Berln. Sadly the blog I have written about gadgets and technology has been pandalized by Google along with the whole site which was a shopping search engine that now doesn’t compete with Google Shopping anymore. So I couldn’t attend as there was no pint. I would have gone would the blog still be alive though. Dyson has done everything right here.

Lately I started meeting SEO expats in Berlin too,

the shooting star of the SEO blogopehere Brian Dean of Backlinko is among one of them, Giselle Navarro Mendez who just chose not to work for some of the largest and most renowned British SEO agencies is the other. We eat breakfast together or we chat in a cafe.

That’s all. It’s fun, hardly work.

And we are heavily sharing each others’ articles by now without even having the others to ask for a favor.

It happens naturally.

* Creative Commons image by photosteve101 of Planet Success.

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