(Link)Build a Relationship in 15 Minutes a Day


respecting-timePerhaps the newest buzzword in SEO is “relationship building.” It’s not about link building anymore-it’s about the relationship. And while I don’t disagree, it is very easy to start tab jumping or fall into Twitter and not accomplish what you wanted to in the first place: getting this person’s attention.

While there are numerous industry experts who have covered
the topic extensively before, one of the most overriding statements is that relationship building “takes time.” Yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t break it up into smaller chunks of time that don’t inadvertently consume your entire morning, or day, or week.

I’m here to offer you ways to build a relationship with your target in just 15 minutes a day. That’s right, 15 minutes. Put on your egg timer, or the alarm on your phone, or whatever you use to keep yourself on track. The team here at Outspoken Media can tell you I’m crazy deadline-driven/time-aware, so when I say 15 minutes, I do my darndest to mean it. While in sum, these strategies could eat up your day, this is my advice: choose one target a day to focus on, and use a few tactics. By the end of a month, you could potentially have 20+ relationships in the works. All for a measly 5 hours.

I’m going to present this from probably one of the hardest positions to work from-an in-house marketer, many of whom I work with every day. I am assuming there is no access to social media accounts (or at least not without a massive headache from legal or the social media team constantly asking “Why?”). All I am assuming is that there is a branded email that you have access to, and maybe that you can get content on your company blog, as, more often than not that is what I’ve seen in-house teams be able to easily access. As an agency SEO or consultant, these tactics are also still relevant and useful.

Initial Contact


Yes, commenting. Not comment spam purely for a followed link. Take two minutes and actually read a recent article (that may or may not be related to your company) and leave a thoughtful comment.

And just to clarify for those of you out there that may be wondering, no, I am not categorizing commenting on a person’s blog post as a link that would be reported to the boss or the CEO. All of these tactics are vehicles for the relationship (and link) that you want.


While there are some people whose email inboxes are sacred; I’ve been pretty fearless personally with my own sites when conducting outreach, and had great success. It may not be the easiest thing to hear, but when you’re building a relationship, get rid of canned responses or templated emails.

  • Be charismatic and genuine (even if that means using improper grammar)
  • Use their language
  • Ask a question that doesn’t involve the words “guest post” at all

Respect Their Time

Do you like reading your email when you have 70 unread messages in your inbox?



Then don’t expect anyone else to, either. Take a guess based on the size of a given publication how busy whomever you contact is going to be and craft your message accordingly. The editor of a smaller, niche website may appreciate your long, gushy, email, but the editor of TechCrunch will not.

This also means not following up every two hours pestering them to see if they’ve read your email. Simple answer: No, they haven’t. They have a job. And a life.


I’m not talking about tweets, re-tweets or Facebook shares, or even egobait, I’m just talking about simply mentioning (and linking) to whomever you’re interested in within a blog post on your company blog. A third of all the Internet is on WordPress-and WordPress allows Pingbacks. Chances are, if you mention a person in a blog post, they’ll notice.

Become a Contributor

Sometimes there will be sites that don’t accept guest posts because they are looking for more long-term writers. A lot of pure “link builders” have historically shyed away from opportunites like that because it would build a footprint (if said link builder was working from an unbranded persona) or because it was too much time invested when becoming a contriubutor to a site wouldn’t build diversity in linking domains or C-Blocks. But! For building a relationship, it’s a great opportunity. If it’s within the scope of your responsibilites and you can take on writing with the frequency they desire, do it.


This is yet another reason why going after irrelevant targets is a lost opportunity. When you’re looking at a site that is in the same industry you are in, you can talk shop with them! You both got into the industry for a reason – you both have a passion for it somewhere, somehow. Let that show!

Continuing Relationships


Follow Up

Follow up matters. While people have a life and don’t want to read an email, the flipside of that is: people have a life. Email clients break and lose emails. Sometimes things just get lost in the shuffle, nothing personal. Don’t be afraid to follow up-though usually I give it a week of hearing crickets before I send a second email. A week can be a long time in the world of an email inbox, so schedule yourself a reminder when you send the initial email, whether that’s using a plugin like Boomerang or setting a deadline on a task through Trello.


This is more appropriate after you’ve been in communication with someone for a while, but again – you’re in the same industry, and if you’re doing it right, you’re reaching out to and talking with a LOT of people. If you’re in touch with a blogger who is working on a project and needs help, reach out to some of your own contacts on their behalf to see if they’d be interested in helping said blogger. You’ll generate goodwill both with the blogger and with everyone as a whole. When you help others out without expectation of something in return, it tends to work in your favor.

Rinse and Repeat

Just because you’ve gotten past the “getting to know you” phase, that doesn’t mean you should stop commenting, mentioning, emailing or connecting with them. Keep it going!

What quick things do you do to build relationships online?

Your Comments

  • Sue

    Separating your effort into 15-min-blocks is really a genius suggestion! I find myself struggling with hours spent just to get that one person to notice! Thanks for this insightful article!

  • Unmana

    I loved this post so much I just linked to it in my weekly Marketing Reading post. (And I didn’t wait for the pingback to let you know :p) http://bettermarketing.in/blog/marketing-reading-website/

  • Gareth Parkin

    This is a fantastic post and it just goes to illustrate that there are no quick wins these days. Building relationships is what it is all about. In a sense we have gone full circle from the old days when people would get in their car with a brochure and go and see someone, through to no client contact because ‘we have a website’, to now back to relationships allbeit in a virtual sense. Life is funny!

  • Teresha Aird

    Great post Amanda, nice and digestible. Was trying to G+ it but I think the G+ button is broken on this page?

    • Rhea Drysdale

      Hi Teresha, thanks for reading the blog! Also, yep… the button is broken. We’ve been trying to fix it for the past week, not sure why it’s busted, but something with the plugin. May switch to a new solution if we can’t get this resolved soon. So sorry for the inconvenience.

  • Teresha Aird

    Not a problem, I do know how to copy and paste :-) (although am usually too lazy!)

  • Kent

    In order to build great relationship, we need to know how to communicate. Dale Carnegie has a great book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

    And, we need to give first or being generous in order to build relationship in this crowded world.

    Five words can help you to build a relationship – “How can I help you?”

  • George Featherstone

    Nice, concise article. First time reader, but you got a new fan. It’s good to see a task that seems daunting broken down into an easily manageable bit of time. Favorite is the “mentions” part – and I had trouble with the G+ button too :(

  • Matt Coffy

    Thanks for sharing, Amanda. Your thoughts give more structure on how I should be reaching out and connecting to customers both potential and current. I admit that I sometimes take this for granted but I believe that being consistent with these efforts is critical. That you actually have to make time, and not just “whenever you feel like it”.

  • Craig Crossland

    I love the idea of “be charismatic and genuine” when sending emails but I have yet to test this.

    In my normal day life talking to friends on Facebook I will be prone to use language such as “Yo dude,” “Hey man,” “sweet” and sentences such as “have you manned it yet” which basically means “have you done it yet”.

    Personally, if I received an email like that I would definitely reply as to me it’s a sense of being laid back, but I feel that when talking via email people expect to be talked to in a professional way.

  • Andrew

    Amanda, I really appreciate your perspective on relationship building and link EARNING.

    I’ve been running into a problem regarding building and maintaining relationships amongst competitive industries in which consumers make a large purchase every 5 years or so and then become uninterested in the products or brands of that market for another 5 years. Think real estate, insurance, etc. Do you have any other tips for building relationships in these types of niches?

  • Jimmy Flores

    Sometimes we also have to, canon ball dive, into the relationship pool to get noticed. One of my sure fire ways to get noticed and open a dialog with hard to reach people/companies is to make a plush from their logo. Yes you read it right, I cut and sew their logo into 3d form, snail mail it to them with a simple note attached and we make contact. Well usually we make contact. The gist of this is, make a huge splash by doing something tangibly awesome.