On earned relationships and assuming otherwise

A year and six days ago, I started a dream job. I got creative and worked hard to get it, and knowing this made it all the more sweet. I’m still at Bazaarvoice, and I still feel like pinching myself on occasion. This is a job that has allowed me to work with people like Sam Decker, to help shape the brand of a company that defined its own space—to feel, for the first time in my 26 years, like a person worth looking up to.

I know that having Bazaarvoice in my email address and in my Twitter bio has given me access to some people that would have otherwise given me little of their attention. Those aren’t the people I care to deal with anyway, but it’s always not so easy to pick them out (and trying to do so is a tremendous waste of time).

One of the questions I’ve heard more than any other in the last year is, “how’d you land that ____?” At first, the blank was almost always filled with “gig” or “job”. But lately, it has been filled with “guest post,” or “shout out,” or “meeting.”

I heard the question when Augie Ray mentioned me in the same tweet as Jeremiah Owyang, Steve Rubel and other social leaders. I heard it the first time I guest wrote for Jay Baer, and when I did so for Brian Solis. I nearly asked it myself when sitting down to lunch with Shel Israel. You can bet I heard it when part of my conversation with David Armano made it into Harvard Business Review.

Luckily, it’s an easy one to answer: I earned it all by building relationships. It was pretty fun, too. I chatted with them on Twitter, commented on their blogs and made sure they knew who I was.

People ask the question quite innocently—they’re excited for me, or they want to do something similar. But many that ask it seem to think there just has to be something going on behind the scenes, or something else at play for whatever it is they’re asking about to happen.

Most of the time, there isn’t. Stop looking for shortcuts. Focus on crafting valuable content, build a network of people who give a damn, and look for opportunities to take the next step.

Earn the relationships and the rest will follow.

Here are some things I’ve written lately:

Will Augmented Reality filter out serendipity?

Interview: Guy Kawasaki on reciprocity, influencers, ecosystems and the art of enchantment

Ian Greenleigh
Author | Turning data into stories | Sr Mgr, Content & Social Strategy, Bazaarvoice | Former baby
  • Hunter Archibald

    Good advice! I use to always look for the easy way out or the easy way to get something done. I think as you get older you mature some and realize that this is not the best course of action, but unfortunately some people never grow up. Well put!

    • Ian Greenleigh

      Thanks, Hunter. Shortcuts don’t deliver for what really counts.

  • http://www.twitter.com/joshferris Josh Ferris

    Ian – I relate to this post completely. Similar to you, I took a position in March 2010 with a visionary real estate brand to manage their online lead strategies and social media. When people ask me how it happened, it’s really simple: I saw a tweet from one of the executives, applied for it and was hired.

    I firmly believe the years of networking through social media meetups and building a blog showcasing my expertise in the niche (ORE101) all helped make it happen. I’ve also been an avid reader of Copyblogger and business/social blogs for years. It takes effort and hard work to gain the knowledge you have and know the people you know.

    I think I would recommend to most people who are just getting started to go out there and do it. Build a blog. Fail (it’s okay, I’ve done it multiple times.) Learn from your mistakes. Get to know others learning about the same thing. If there is one thing all of this learning, networking and experience has taught me, it’s that there are no shortcuts or magic bullets.

    You get out there and get started and stick with it. That’s how you make it. Anyway, good to see you still blogging. Sorry for the long comment! :)

  • http://daretocomment.com Ian Greenleigh


    Never apologize for leaving awesome comments! Sticking with it is especially hard for people with ADD, like myself, but somehow, when it really counts, I’ve been able to make it work. I’ve also never been able to be proud of things I hadn’t earned. I never understood celebrating birthdays, for example. Earning things, even relationships, feels great as we reflect on the work that went into the achievement.

    Thanks for stopping by!