During the “Avoiding Disaster: How Not to Use Social Media” panel at Blog World Expo, Ricardo Bueno asked about outreach, specifically tied to promoting a blog, and how aggressive you can be, with that outreach. Check out the video below of the question and answer, care of Lynn Terry.

My answer was, basically, that I feel that where outreach crosses a line is when you use a space that is not yours to use. As an example, I mentioned a blog or a forum where you post a comment or create a new thread and you mention your website.

My friend Jason Falls, the panel’s moderator, deferred to me because I had reached out to him when I was promoting my book, to ask him if he’d like a review copy. I didn’t go to Jason’s blog and post a comment. I contacted him directly. I introduced myself in a respectful, professional manner and I asked him if he’d be willing to allow me to send a copy of the book. And that’s it, really. He could have said no, and he never would have heard from me again. But, he said yes and I sent him one and we got to know each other through that, through me taking the initiative to contact him.

Outreach is fine, but outreach can turn into spamming real fast if you don’t respect who you are speaking to and who the owners of a given space – whether that be a social networking site, a forum, a blog or something else. Outreach should be delicate and considered. You have to be aware of what your surroundings are and who holds the keys.

If someone doesn’t want you, they don’t want you. If they say no, accept it and move on. If you don’t ask and they don’t want it, they’ll shut you down, anyway, and you can gain a poor reputation. At least, if you ask, you’ll be showing them respect, which they’ll appreciate and, you never know, they might actually help you, where they might not have, had you just attempted to abuse their community.