An open letter to bloggers: Talking Story links.

I’ve had this post in draft for a while, and after two more email conversations about it yesterday, and one spammy email asking me for a link exchange today it’s time to stop my editing and post it.

Talking Story is a blog and not a static website for me because I love having conversations with you who are in the Ho‘ohana Community of readers, whether you choose to engage with me here, via email or in other less public ways (see Aloha to the Silent and Faithful). For me, learning to be a better manager and a better coach (my ho‘ohana) happens in conversations: I already know what I think.

I write about community — a lot (here, here, here, and here just for starters). I’ve also written before about how important professional relationships are in business (here, and here) and I do consider Talking Story a business blog.

Knowing these fundamental things about me will help you understand that while I will always be grateful to those who list Talking Story on their own blogs — mahalo nui — you shouldn’t expect simple link exchanges from me.

I invite people to be part of the Ho‘ohana Online Community after I have developed my own relationship with them, and I have been witness to their willingness to engage in positive conversations with their own readership (and positive doesn’t mean you necessarily agree about everything). They celebrate the spirit of aloha in their interactions with their guests and customers — the people who read their blogs. They strive to be Mea Ho‘okipa, the epitome of the gracious host: Their blog is a home they invite others into, and once guests arrive, they do all they can to make them feel comfortable and welcomed.

The readers of Talking Story, those whom I call the Ho‘ohana Community, are very important to me, and I believe they trust me to make good recommendations. I am not willing to compromise their trust and disappoint them. I can only recommend another blogger when I am very confident he or she is very responsive, and willing to engage in conversation with them.

It has been pointed out to me that I may be unrealistic about keeping up with comment conversations and trackback courtesies, especially if I ever hope to attain the status of a widely-read author. Should I have the good fortune to be more popular, I will have others in the community or my ‘Ohana in Business help me. I believe that people who have taken the time to write to you deserve an answer, and I pray I never ever get too busy for that. Conversations with the Ho‘ohana Community will always be my focus. The day it is no longer possible will be the day that Talking Story — and Say Leadership Coaching for that matter —ceases to exist.

All that said, you can be the one to initiate the relationship! If you comment here, I will answer you either in the comment field or by private email if it seems more appropriate, and I will always visit your blog when I have a url to find you. Statistically 90+% of those who do comment here are other bloggers. If you send me a trackback ping same thing: you are sure to get a visit from me and a response (as you know trackbacks are great for people following your links back to you).

And I do hope this hasn’t sounded cold, for I do want to meet you and get to know you: In fact, I’m a voracious blog reader, and I make a point to find good blogs to recommend to the Ho‘ohana Community: I believe that’s one of the things they’ve come to expect from me. We are a learning community, and we want to learn from you. I am quite sure that all the bloggers now in the Ho‘ohana Online Community agree, and will welcome you with open arms as well.

I’m pretty quick to subscribe to other blogs (as you can see here): You keep me as a subscriber when you post regularly and you write well — that’s the golden ticket for all of us, isn’t it?

My personal brand and the branding of Talking Story strives to always be in alignment with the values of the Managing with Aloha philosophy: Those universal values define what I (and I believe my readers) regard as like-minded blog content. If I ever err I fully expect that my readers will quickly call me on it, and rightfully so. If you have a business blog, I believe good business values are critical to the success and integrity of your business.

And there is one more thing. If you’ve been following Talking Story since I established the Ho‘ohana Online Community this past January, you know that I’m starting to get the bloggers included involved in my monthly Ho‘ohana, and I do ask them to be part of my forums. We all get busy, and I don’t expect that they will always be able to participate, but if they are MIA month after month the rest of the Ho‘ohana Community will probably notice. Being part of a business community (and in particular our reinvention of it) requires that people get involved and keep the community vibrant, dynamic, and healthy. That is not something that will continue to happen on the strength of my voice alone.

I recognize that community involvement is a commitment, and that I ask for the most precious thing another blogger may have — time. (I don’t believe asking someone to share their aloha with others is difficult or too much to ask.) However if you do become part of our Ho‘ohana Online Community one day, you will find that there will be quite a bit of link-love and conversation-aloha for you as the reward you so patiently had worked for, as much as is in my power to give you. That will be the commitment I make to you.

So between now and then, raise the bar for us all. Give first, and ye shall then receive. I want to link to you, I really do.

Engage in comment conversations both with your own readers and here on Talking Story. Kulia i ka nu‘u: pursue your personal excellence and strive for the summit. Learn to be Mea Ho‘okipa. My bet is that you will end up the winner. In fact, do those things and your own blog will be so successful you won’t need my link at all, and you’re likely to find me playing in your comment fields too.

Ho‘ohana, and aloha, Rosa

Related posts:
Introducing the Ho‘ohana Online Community.
Who should read Managing with Aloha?


  1. says

    As usual, Rosa has captured the heart and soul not only of blogging but of being a gracious and friendly hostess. It bears noting that we all receive requests for blog link exchanges, of one sort or another, and, like Rosa, I believe a reply, a communication and a reaching out in friendship is always in order in such cases. But, not all requests can be, nor should be, fulfilled.
    As the blogosphere grows, I believe each blogroll will become personal property of a sort– it will reflect and support that blog’s purpose, giving the blog a value beyond the message written by the author. If that is true, then blogrolls by nature need to be selective and limited. A blogroll that exists to merely provide links for the search engines is a misuse of the tool. Follow Rosa’s advice and build your community link by link, brick by brick, with a solid foundation (your blog writing) and selective ‘windows to the interior’– links to other blogs that understand community and giving back.

  2. says

    Good notes, Rosa. I guess I have conflicting feelings on the topic, if I’m understanding it correctly (and I don’t think you sounded cold).
    I value my inclusion in the Ho‘ohana Online Community, but it’s not the *only* online community in which I spend my time. I always read here, but when the conversations turn away from stuff I’m immediately interested in, I don’t usually comment. Like other members of the community, I’m dividing my time between building my own readership, reading and responding outside the business blogging community, reading and responding within the business blogging community, and reading and responding within the Ho‘ohana community. So sometimes, particularly from a participatory standpoint, I feel MIA from here, but I’m always lurking, ready to comment when the conversation rolls back in line with my interests. And, as part of the community, I assume that others are doing the same with me–commenting at Slacker Manager when my writing intersects the reader’s current interest.
    Anyway, I’m still here. :-)

  3. says

    I know exactly what you’re saying. Your blog is an extension of you. We throw out the word “brand” an awful lot, but it’s pretty true to what we all have with our blogs and writings. When you associate it with stuff that’s not central to who you are:
    ** content that’s either completely or sort of off-topic (you won’t see a whole lot of economic blogs listed on my site unless they deal with cultivating a soulful economy)
    ** a blogger that doesn’t share your ideals
    ** or, a blogger that doesn’t put the same degree of effort into their work (there are a couple of folks who I read that would be ideal for me to link, but I refuse until they clean up their spelling)
    Like you, I feel it’s important to be selective with you I link to. While I read numerous blogs and constantly find new ones, I only link to the ones that directly contribute to my blog and my readers’ experience.
    Hey, in the end, you’re the founder of the community. Without your work, it wouldn’t exist. You know that I’m grateful to be a contributing member of the community (which I do believe is probably the single-most important part of any community).

  4. says

    Aloha Bren, I don’t think our feelings are conflicting at all. You’ve added to them nicely, mahalo. I’m glad you brought up the point that we all belong to several online communities, and keeping up with them is indeed a challenge at times, even moreso calling for the need to be selective versus trading links at random. In addition, what a blogger does to build their own readership and maintain the integrity of their own blog is crucial. And by the way, I’ve never thought of you as MIA!
    Yvonne, mahalo for your thoughts, always so graciously given.

  5. says

    Aloha Chris, mahalo for sharing your perspective with us too.
    On the participation, I’m relieved to know that it’s appreciated and I haven’t been unduly adding to everyone’s stress and feelings of overwhelm, for it has been something I’ve tried to be sensitive to — we’re all in the same canoe here. And that does bring up another reason I do look for other bloggers to join us: Laulima, many hands make the individual burden lessen and the task itself more enjoyable.
    Please know that I am grateful for your hands in our Laulima and we value your contribution. Mahalo nui loa.

  6. says

    Aloha Ho’ohana Community Gang,
    Rosemary and I are in complete agreement with Rosa’s community building strategy…especially the Ho’ohana Online Community building philosophy.
    I think there are three types of online communities. One is a website, static in nature, that allows interaction in a very sterile and edited sort of way. A second would be your standard blog or bulletin board. Good informational exchange, but the vehicle is stuck in neutral. The third is what is happening here at Talking Story.
    Talking Story is moving forward. I had a dream in a previous weblife of moving a community forward. I spent four years at it. It didn’t work because I didn’t do what Rosa is doing today. One cannot start from a stronger foundation than the MWA values. Once the foundation is in place, and believe me it is in place, it is a matter of fostering a nourishing environment for the third.
    The third is a byproduct of vibrant and stimulating exchange. It is something that is created. It didn’t exist before the exchange. It moves forward. Contrast this to the following:
    “Hey Pete, I like your PR blog man. Can you give me some fundamentals for writing good press releases?”
    “Thanks for stopping by Jimbo. Just click on the fundamentals of writing press releases in my archives.”
    Good informational exchange, but did the community move forward? No.
    I am very, very, very excited about the possibilities in our community here. We have the opportunity to move into uncharted territory. Let me give you an example of creating the third.
    I recently met fellow Ho’ohana member Anita Campbell. Anita turned me on to a book that she edited. It is written to address the Powersports, atv’s, snowmobiles etc. I started reading this book and couldn’t put it down. My brain went nuts. I can directly relate the stuff that author John Wycoff talks about in MYOB-2, to my own industry. This book will help to stimulate the minds that are trapped on hamster wheels and they are in another industry to boot. Here is the kicker: Yvonne Divita, another Ho’ohan member published the book.
    There are things that will develop and happen here that we cannot possibly imagine. I can hardly wait.

  7. says

    You said it all!! I think that your idea of building a comunity is fantastic. I commit to subscribing to all of those people that you post as a means of encouragement and to learn more and more from those around me. There is so much to share. In return I hope and trust that more people will follow and that this way become a way for all of our blogs grow and prosper together… I guess it does Take a village! at least in this case.

  8. says

    Aloha kaua e Dave and Matt, mahalo nui for your supportive, positive voices here!
    As an update for everyone, I have added two new bloggers to the Ho‘ohana Online Community, Matt Sunshine of Ideas, Leadership and Vision, and Robin Scanlon of Ramblings. Please watch for my future posts giving them the aloha-style introductions I normally do write when we have a new Ho‘ohana Online Community member. Meanwhile, do share your aloha with them: visit their blogs and get to know them.
    Also, if you have not yet made the adjustment within your own subscriptions, Scott Hodge has reinvented Weebleland! I have a newly revised link to him at where you will also see his catchy new tagline: Life. Leadership. Latte’s. Love the new look Scott!

  9. says

    I don’t have language adequate to express how much you touch me. Finding you was synchronistic in so many ways!
    Although I haven’t met you (yet!), I feel as though I’ve known you for many lifetimes. Your graciousness, your spirit, your commitment to your Self and to others, your strong but deeply feminine energy, your vision for your work and this community call to me on a soul level.
    Congratulations for standing for what you want, *and* what you want for others. It’s magical, and you’re attracting exactly the right people to play with. You hold the bar high, encourage others to meet you there, and I think you’re spectacular.
    Thank you for… well, you. What a gift!

  10. says

    Hi Rosa,
    I agree with you about being selective in your blogging community and links. Like Bren, I’m actively trying to build up my readership and respond in a timely fashion to the core group of sites that represent similar interests. Steve Pavilla had a good point yesterday about limiting his daily feeds to no more than 20. Quality is definitely a virtue over quantity in the blogosphere. Your site is one of the most unique and definitely has it’s own persona. Keep up the great work.

  11. says

    Aloha John,
    I clicked in to the post you mentioned and saw your comment there,
    and I agree with what you had said: Like you I enjoy the community aspect of blogging, and that is what gets to the heart of what (I believe) most people who have weighed in on this post are conveying as well.
    My hope is that everyone who participates in the Talking Story Ho‘ohana Community will feel a degree of warmth and intimacy here; that their contributions will always stand out and be noticed, and they will be appreciated for their willingness to share them. It takes guts, self-assurance, and a degree of vulnerability to comment on blogs, and when people do, I want them recognized.
    As the author of Talking Story, I wholeheartedly accept my primary responsibility for that, knowing I must lead by example and “walk the talk” however, my goal is that we truly grow as an entire community, where acknowledgement and recognition need not only come from me. My kulia i ka nu‘u (my more ambitious dream) is for the interaction of the community itself, and I recognize that is something which must happen inside and outside of Talking Story if it is to become a reality: Connectivity is not meant to be directed or controlled, and I would never wish to imply otherwise.
    If it is to remain vibrant, the Ho‘ohana Community – like any online ‘ohana (family association) – will grow. It is a growth that comes from continual learning, and we learn from each other most of all. As you have said, this is a matter of quality over quantity, a balance we look at on a personal basis: We all strive to be good participants and community members, able to live up to the expectations others will have for us. Everyone’s capacity differs, and guided by the value of Ho‘ohana which I have made my mantra, my own focus on the capacity of our Ho‘ohana ONLINE Community blogroll has been their intention.
    Going back to Steve Pavlina’s post for a moment, I separate my own blog reading (at 163 today, changing daily) from the link recommendations I make here on Talking Story, and I do not blend the two as Steve seems to say he is attempting to do. The intent of the post this conversation continues, had been to clarify my own criteria for the links I’ve included here. I started to simply request people not ask me for link exchanges, and as I so often do I kept writing more and more and more ” like right now!
    I would like to add this: I have no intention of limiting the Ho‘ohana Online Community blogroll to any number. One of our guiding values is Kākou, inclusiveness, and as far as I’m concerned the more the merrier. If my expectations for participation and responsiveness to readers (our customers) start to feel burdensome for people, they can always ask me to remove them and I will respect their decision.
    It is amazing how much things can change (I should say, how we can grow) in the span of two short months ” I’m now thinking I need to update this post soon ” in particular I don’t care for the grouchy and reactive way I started it back on March 30th.
    Mahalo nui for sharing your thoughts John, for I do depend on the community’s feedback to keep Talking Story on the right track, and in my mind you have been part of our Ho‘ohana Community since the first day you visited. Thank you.
    With aloha, Rosa

  12. says

    I fully concur with all comments. Nigel and I are honored to be included in the HOC and always eager to participate. I myself feel proud to be included with so many smart and articulate people, and thank you all for your support!

  13. says

    I’m constantly editing my blog subscriptions. There are so many good ones out there and so little time. I’ve arranged my bloglist so that the “must reads” are on the top of the list. All of the ones in your list are in my “must reads” because of their relevance and because they are written by such interesting people. I’m honored to be on that list. Thank you for hosting a great community and teaching us to “Manage with Aloha”!

  14. says

    Hello Again!
    The question is do you want to link to my site or not? we all need links to our sites.
    Or are we back to the my blogg is too good for your links business?
    At the end of the day my blogg is a universal theme.
    Will you get on board or do you fail to reciprocate?

  15. says

    Aloha Floyd,
    No, it’s not at all that my blog is too good for yours; please do not interpret this that way. However I do not deny that I am very choosy about the blogs I decide to add to the Ho’ohana Online Community: I believe that is what my readers expect from me, and that is part of the way I malama my readers, i.e. take care to honor what they have come to expect from my recommendations and referrals.
    I simply do not know you yet, and have not visited your blog as of yet, and must take the time to do so.
    Therefore, to answer your question directly, no, I do not practice “you link to me, I’ll link to you” blogroll reciprocation. I extend invitations to blog authors for the HOC once they have engaged in our community here, i.e. they have become active participants in our discussions, and they continually write articles on their blogs I feel are of interest to the rest of the community. I never, ever expect a reciprocal link from them: that is their choice if they also feel that Talking Story suits their own community of readers.
    I invite you to spend more time with us.
    A hui hou,

  16. says

    Hello Again Rosa!
    I must say that I am rather “Surprised” at an attitude that I can only describe as rather tinged with less than subtle arrogance.
    My weblog is designed to move us all forward out of discrimination in its myriad forms and appeals to all forward thinking human beings. In 2005 this “must” be a central goal of all “Leadership Training!” anywhere for anyone.
    A link in this context is a small thing and indeed a small thing to ask, I feel it is arrogant of you to respond as you have without even taking a few seconds to click a link and review the contents and goals of my site.
    I have reviewed my decision to link to your site and I have indeed deleted the link. I have done so because I understand from your attitude that people like you are a big part of the very problems we all face in this world that my site seeks to lift us out of.
    My readers would indeed find your attitudes a difficult one to digest even if your leadership theories may be worth initial exploration.
    My original letter to you (or a faithful approximation of it) is displayed below for the benefit of your readers.
    I was inspired to place a link from my site to yours because your site would be of interest to my readers.
    I wondered if you would be inclined to reciprocate.
    If you do please let me know.
    You could name the link “Diversity Management” OR “CampbellConsent”
    If something grabs your attention on the site please do leave a comment.
    Kind Regards
    Floyd Campbell/

  17. says

    Aloha Floyd,
    I am sorry you feel this way, and I am disappointed that you have chosen to read certain parts of this post, which I did direct you to for the fuller discussion of the Ho‘ohana Community views versus just mine, and focus on the negative. However I also apologize if you have done so feeling compelled to defend yourself. You have chosen to bring our discussion out of the private email realm and into this public one, and thus it regrettably has continued down this path.
    My last comment was not clear on the timeline and I should have been more careful in writing it, for due to my predilection with answering emails as quickly as possible (a lesson you are teaching me to learn better), I had not clicked in to your blog before answering your first email privately and directing you here simply for more information. However I had indeed read your blog there thereafter, including much of your archives, and before responding to your comment above. The point I had hoped to make was that the people in my HOC blogroll are there because they have become positive, active, and respected participants in the Talking Story community prior to their link being added here. Sometimes they had arrived here first; with others I had become part of their own blog’s community and thus the two were bridged. The brevity of my comment was to answer you directly and honestly: I do not practice simple link exchanges. I do not share your opinion that a link exchange is “a small thing to ask.”
    On the other hand, you have taken a much greater leap of faith; as we can see from your first email you’ve reprinted here, you may not have even read enough of Talking Story to have known my name yet! You have described your ho‘ohana for us: “My weblog is designed to move us all forward out of discrimination in its myriad forms and appeals to all forward thinking human beings. In 2005 this “must” be a central goal of all “Leadership Training!” anywhere for anyone.” And now that I have read it, I can see that is indeed what you are trying to do, and I do commend you for it. I hope you are very successful at exploring the great value found in diversity, celebrating it with the more positive views we need in our world.
    Floyd I had added you to my BlogLines subscriptions after your first email because I wanted to honor your request and was flattered by it; I simply wanted the time to get to know you better before making a decision about the HOC blogroll. I am not removing my subscription, and I’ll continue to read your blog as long as it remains a positive influence for me to do so. (I have a very low tolerance for negativity- a self disclosure, not a comment on your blog.) Your blog is fairly new, and on your present home landing page it is very apparent that your current emphasis is on building links and traffic versus your ho‘ohana-related content: I will be taking the time to read more of your writing, and more of your conversations with readers.
    If you still wish to continue this discussion, I ask that we do so privately via email from this point forward. Your links will remain in this comment conversation, and the Ho‘ohana Community can take those links to visit you for the time being, as will I, for I do sincerely wish you well in the ho‘ohana you have spoken of. I encourage you to be a positive voice.
    A hui hou, malama pono,