13 Characteristics Of Successful Digital Schmoozers

This is a guest post by David Siteman Garland, author of newly released book Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business.

Digital schomoozers. You know the type. They have REALLY engaged social networks. It seems no matter what they post, their readers and followers respond and engage with them as a result. And in many cases, it could literally be anything ranging from a new product to asking how everyone is doing to some TMI information about how their cat ate the wrong kind of food and threw up everywhere.

To the outside eye, this looks a little ridiculous. Why are these schmoozers so popular? What are the top 1% of these digital schmoozers doing that the other 99% of online citizens seems to be missing out on? How are they able to build quality relationships and a large following for their brand with seemingly little effort?

More importantly, how can YOU (if you choose) leverage those same principles to become an influential leader in your niche?

Over the past two years, I’ve been on a quest to answer the questions above through:

  1. 200+ interviews with the world’s most creative entrepreneurs on my web show The Rise To The Top (including Techipedia’s very own Tamar Weinberg!) and developing the “human” case studies and stories for my just released book Smarter, Faster, Cheaper.
  2. My own journey of building The Rise To The Top and focusing on social networks to build relationships which has led to over 100,000 viewers a month, tons of media exposure and…what I’m most excited about, valuable two-way relationships with some of the most interesting, passionate and amazing people I’ve ever met.
  3. Thousands of random conversations in person and online with all kinds of people.

Young and old. Male and female. Ranging from the tech-savvy to not knowing the difference between a megabyte and spider bite (and that is perfectly OK).

Without further ado…here are the characteristics:

Selectively Present

The folks with the most traction don’t attend every party, they attend the right ones and go all out. For some it is Twitter and Facebook. For others like master schmoozer Lewis Howes, it might be LinkedIn. Sure it is great to be everywhere, but why not put full effort into a few sites you enjoy and see what happens?

As I share in greater detail in Smarter, Faster, Cheaper, attending the right parties is a combination of your personality and of course where the people you want to hang out with are located online. For me personally, my two favorite parties are Twitter and Facebook.

Show Their Faces

No, this isn’t earth shattering. But, it is extremely important. Faces have the advantage over logos. Why? Because it is hard to schmooze and form a real relationship with a logo if we don’t know who is behind it. Is it the intern? A marketing firm? Who is it? The best schmoozers are humans, not faceless companies. Are you showing you?

Share Valuable (and Relevant) Content

Dan Schawbel from Personal Branding Blog is great at this. He shares all kinds of great content related to personal branding and careers. Some of it is his content from his websites. Some of it is from other people. When you share entertaining, educational and/or inspiring content, you begin to become THE go to resource for something. For Dan it is personal branding. What is your something?

Promote Others More Than Themselves

Chris Brogan actually has a ratio for this: 12:1. He promotes others twelve times for every one thing he promotes himself. A little extreme? Perhaps. And while an exact science might not be necessary here, the idea is critical. When you promote others more than yourself, you will not come off as a product-pushing jerk. And that is a good thing.

What does promoting others actually mean? It means helping other people out. Sharing with your network something they created (a valuable blog post for example), a product, cause, whatever it might be.

Helpful On Their Own Sites & Social Media Sites

Being helpful on your own website and on social media sites is like being — brace yourself for the terrible analogy — Mother Theresa in public (I know, I know…terrible). You are helping others…and everyone can see. And this isn’t about contrived manipulation (yuck), it is about genuinely helping others for the sake of just doing it (without expecting anything). It might be retweeting someone’s question about the best place to host a web video or answering the question if you know yourself. Helpfulness builds relationships.

They Show Up Consistently

No way around it. A great quote from one of my good friends and super creative entrepreneur “The Nametag Guy” Scott Ginsberg: “Consistency is better than rare moments of greatness.” Does this mean you need to be glued to your computer/phone and be “in real time” all the time? Absolutely not (and your family probably won’t love it). What it does mean, is the people with the most engagement are there. They don’t disappear for days or weeks at a time without a heads up. They are there. Talking with people. Sharing valuable information. Schmoozing. Hanging out. Slow and steady wins the race.

Tastefully Promote

There is a misconception on social networking sites that you are either a conversationalist or a marketer. Sort of like there are two massive compartments and you either fall into one or the other. However, the best schmoozers DO promote at some point. It might be an event. Or a book. Or a product/service. But, the key is it isn’t a hard sell wrapped in a tight marketing message. Instead, it is conversational and fun. Chris Guillebeau is the master of this with his Unconventional Guides. Sure, he promotes his digital products, but he doesn’t promise you a get rich scheme or make you feel any less valuable if you don’t buy. Try it.

Masters Of Small Talk

Check out Danny Brown. You might find him asking how the weather is, helping people with business problems, joking around, talking about the local pub…who knows. Danny is a master digital schmoozer. And the secret? Actually caring. Taking off the marketer, business owner and sales hat and instead getting to know people on a one-on-one level. Small talk is the #1 most underrated thing you can do on social media sites.

Introduce & Vamoose

In Malcolm Gladwell’s insanely popular international bestselling book, The Tipping Point, one of the most valued type of influencers is the “connector.” You know the type. They seem to know everyone and connect the dots for people through introductions. In the social media schmoozing world, being a connector is massively valuable. For example, uber-entrepreneur and blogger, Neil Patel is the master of the intro. It might be in public on Twitter (“Hey (insert name) and (insert name). Do you two know each other? If not, you should!”) or it might be a private email introduction doing the same. The value of being a connector and catalyst of helping others form relationships is invaluable.

Take Relationships Further

Can you take online relationships into the offline world and vice-versa? How can you get to know your followers and friends better? One thing that worked personally was hosting RISE lunches in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Local creative entrepreneurs all came together for some great food, laughs and even some short presentations. The cool thing is most of the folks who came out were friends and followers I hadn’t met in real life yet. Combining online and offline is like relationship magic – just without the magic bunny trick.

Actively Expand Their Networks & Meet New People

I know we all want to pretend we are really important and everyone should want to connect with us unless they are some kind of dumb-dumb. In reality though, the best schmoozers stick themselves out there to meet new people. It might be a NON-generic LinkedIn invitation or a Facebook invite with a quick little introduction. Personal touches go further than you think.

Honestly and this sounds like common sense, but reaching out to someone and complimenting them is a great start. People like to be flattered. For example (and this is made up I hope):

“Hi Mary,

Just wanted to reach out and introduce myself and connect. I’m a massive fan of your blog Awesome Funny Cats. I’m obsessed with cats too and own 498 of them. Loved your last post on funny cat tricks. Looking forward to staying in touch!”


Grow Bigger Ears

Think of it is a pulse on your industry or topic of choice. The top schmoozers are all also news breakers. Sarah Evans (known as PRSarahEvans) is the master of this. As soon as something breaks in her industry, boom! She is all over it and announcing it to her networks. Are you keeping tabs on the blogs and news source in your industry? And more importantly, are you a DJ finding the most valuable and timely information and sharing with your network? Give it a shot. Do you have breaking news all in one place online? It might be as simple as setting up Google Reader and subscribing to the major news blogs in your industry. A great (and free!) way to keep your pulse on your industry.

Schmooze Randomly

This is the most interesting. When you study the networks of the some of the top digital schmoozers, you will find that not only are they connected to nearly everyone in their industry (influencers, bloggers, up-and-comers, fans, etc.) but they also have people outside their specific industry which to the outside eye might seem completely unrelated. For example, @rizzotees Chris Reimer has an expansive network on Twitter. Not all of the folks though are t-shirt lovers. Yet, this aspect of Chris’ network is equally valuable. He helps them if they need help. And they help Chris. Sometimes it is the random connections that end up being the most valuable to both parties.

Wrapping It Up:

What about you? What characteristics would you add to the list? What has helped you connect with others online and build a following for your brand?

David Siteman Garland is the Founder of The Rise To The Top, The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business Smarter, Faster, Cheaper. He hosts RISE, a web show for entrepreneurs featuring unique interviews & advice, and The Rise To The Top TV show on ABC. He is the author of the newly released Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business (Wiley 2010).

Photos by Shutterstock.

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47 replies on “13 Characteristics Of Successful Digital Schmoozers”
  1. says: Ronen Mendezitsky

    Thank you David, this was a good read. Congratulation’s on your book!

    By the way… Happy Hanukah to both of you!

  2. says: Heidi Cohen

    David–Thank you for these tips (BTW- I love the dog photo. It reminds me of the dog next door from my childhood.) I totally agree with you on getting out and meeting people in real life. Peter Shankman in his talks to my Digital Marketing classes at NYU always made the point –“Always take the meeting!” The subtext is the same, use every opportunity to meet people you never know where they will lead. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

    1. says: Danny Brown

      Hi Annice,

      One of the things we do is help all our interns get up and running with a blog (if they don’t already have one), and then market it, and give them best practices for running, maintaining and promoting. It’s helped a couple get jobs once the internship has ended, as well as put them in front of our networks as well – much more valuable than a thank you drink at the end of the internship. 🙂

  3. Timely – was just thinking about this when looking around for “connections” to add to my new LinkedIn account. 🙂

    Annice – Here’s my opinion. Consider Betty Crocker. She was a persona, invented as a way of facilitating connections between housewives and a milling company. Customers were writing in, asking for recipes. “Betty Crocker” provides an ongoing focus for that sort of relationship.

    A professional will understand that any marketing, including Social Media and blogging, should match the personality of what is represented. If the intern can be taught to walk like Betty Crocker, in the blog’s shoes, the intern can do the work. Does that make sense to you?

    1. says: Annice Brown

      Yes, Betty Crocker, of course. The reason I’m wanting an intern is because our blog is for women over 50 and compared to all the cable ready kids out there we have a lot too learn, and we think the young ones can teach it to us.

  4. says: Danny Brown

    Hey there Mister David,

    First, congrats on the launch of your book, mate – been a long time coming, and happy for you and proud of you 🙂

    Second, being a master of small talk might just mean I have nothing interesting to say, so bluff my way through everything with the inane 😉 Thanks for the kind shout-out, my man – you rock. 🙂

    Just started reading your book, and already I know it’s going to be one of my favourite “social media/business/community” books. Because you write as you are in the flesh – and who can ask for more than that?

    Cheers again, mate, and looking forward to the sequel already 🙂

  5. says: will brennan

    So simple, so logical. So precise!
    Shows that blogging can be done successfully with ‘human’ tools without the rush to all the latest technology, software and tips & tricks espoused by internet ‘gurus.’
    Thx so much for the advice since I’m a newbie and would like to get my ‘first principles’ right.

  6. says: Gloria E. Wilson

    With my vintage brain and trying to learn new technology your blog was a pleasant surprise-easy to read, easy to understand and easy to follow. Thank you for sharing.

  7. says: Becky

    This was an awesome post and so very true. It’s the people that give it all that are the people that win online. I treat my network like family, friends and colleagues all rolled in to one and I love that I can still be me and an entrepreneur all at the same time. Thanks again for this post 🙂 @beckysocial

  8. says: Steve Haase

    David, I think you’re practicing all 13 of these just with this one blog post! Seriously, man, the way you walk the talk is very impressive, and kudos for getting a brilliant guest post together during the insanely busy book-launch time. Thanks for the pointers on this very important topic.

  9. says: Sharel


    This is a great post, I loved the way the message get across with the focused actions and images…

    Thank you again David! and thanks Tamar for this great blog post.

    David, is there an audio book version of your book?

      1. says: Sharel

        This is going to be great! for some reason i find it easier for me to heard the audio book, especial when the author read it 🙂

        If there is a way to “vote” for it, i will love to do that 🙂

        If not I will have the book “shipped” to Israel 🙂

        THANK YOU!

  10. says: Alistair

    “Masters of Small talk” is a good point. It is much too easy for people using social media for business to aim to be ultra professional. We all connect with people and not brands, and showing your personality makes you a real person.

  11. says: Kathy

    Great article. All the tips are extremely helpful. I like Show their faces and selectively comment. There are so many things you can do and if you are not careful you do none of them well

  12. says: Simon Dodd

    Thanks for the great post,

    I personally find it very easy to schmooze offline but am still trying to twist my humour slightly so it works online as well…

    Relationship building is one of the biggest things you can do as a business owner, you will then always have everyone you need around you.

    Thanks again for a great post!


  13. says: ChristopherAdams.com

    Good article. Being conversational and talking with people is what puts the social in social networking & media.

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  15. David,

    Insightful points here. I’ve often thought it’s odd that many people using social media don’t understand the social part of it, meaning that we need to focus on building relationships and giving more than we get. I think that’s the key to excelling in social media.

    1. Hi Spencer, absolutely. If you’re the official company account, don’t use your personal photo. People are following Xerox for the company, not for some random guy working there. But if you’re representing the company as an employee, yes, humanize! 🙂

  16. says: Yasir Khan

    Thanks for the great article. I do agree with the point of Simon Dodd that relationship building is one of the biggest things that we can do as a business owner. If you are successful in the art of relationship building, you will surely find the people with you whom you want to see around you. But unfortunately we never try to connect with the people but with the brands. It is indeed a great article with so many things that could be practiced in the society especially the Show their Faces and Masters of Small Talk points. I am greatly impressed by the deep perception of the writer. Thanks for sharing.

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