For all the time people spend in choosing an affiliate network provider, setting commission rates and other affiliate payments, and talking to their affiliates, they tend to overlook something crucial: building a personal network within the affiliate marketing community.
The importance of a strong personal network really hit home with me as I sifted through my reader email folder looking for patterns. Here’s what I found. Recently several readers have asked for tips on how to get started cross promoting other affiliate programs. Over the past few months, other emailers wanted advice on finding someone to run their affiliate programs, usually not from a big dot-com locale, making the recruiting tough. With the recent demise of so many dot-coms, a few colleagues have written for advice on job searching. Finally, one of the most enduring questions is about which conferences to attend.
Acquiring affiliates is a critical part of the success of any program. Although we’ve had numerous columns on tips and techniques — from the basics to the more specialized — one of the most effective techniques is building a personal network.
Several areas around the U.S. now benefit from groups of affiliate managers getting together on a regular basis. One of the more organized attempts comes from the somewhat officious sounding United States Affiliate Manager Coalition, founded by Shawn Collins. I suspect the name was really a function of available domain names because you can visit the coalition at USAMC.org. Although it started as a New York group, today USAMC links to loosely affiliated groups in other metros. If your area has a group, check it out. If not, start one.
For example, here in the Philadelphia area, I belong to an affiliate marketing group, the Tri-State Affiliate Managers, that meets about once a month to discuss trends, share ideas, and in general get a sense of best practices. For more info on TSAM, please drop an email to Todd Kevitch.
Seminars and Conferences
Want to venture out of your local area? A number of great conferences and seminars have arrived on the scene. This spring, AffiliateFORCE turns two years old. internet.com (owner of ClickZ) produces a number of one-day affiliate marketing seminars. The Institute for International Research offers a variety of related seminars; next up is its Online Allies conference in San Francisco.
Of course, affiliate networks such as LinkShare and Commission Junction offer their own conferences, attended by customers, affiliates, and prospects. Another option if you’re looking to save time or expense is to go online. More and more sites are starting to offer online chats and events around affiliate marketing topics. Recently I’ve hosted chats at CashPile.com and the L.A. chapter of WebGrrls.
Hiring and Job Seeking
Networking with colleagues locally and around the globe also pays off when it comes to hiring and being hired. The job market is still tough in lots of places. Of course, there are the usual resources, such as Monster.com, HotJobs.com, dice.com, HeadHunter.net, and the many other national job sites, but you knew that already. A better resource is often regional and specialty sites. techies.com and philly.com are good examples. USAMC.org is also a good stop, often featuring several affiliate-related postings. Finally, don’t overlook campus recruiting.
It’s a bit trite, but who you know can pay big rewards. Spend the time now building your network. Often the last thing you want to do is go to one more function, sit through one more seminar, or wade through a discussion list. Do it anyway.
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