Markets are conversations. Digital conversations have many similarities with in-person conversations. For sustainable relationships to develop, listening is more important than speaking. Reading and commenting on someone else’s blog is one sure way to practice ‘active listening’. It only needs to take 10 minutes, ideally once a week. Here are ten reasons why it is worth your while.

Commenting allows you to add value to someone else’s post – A key part of effective commenting is to add value. This means that you need to read and comment on blogs in your own subject area and add a meaningful contribution. This might be a question, or a comment on the topic that takes the debate to a new area, or an explanation for why you found the article so interesting. Both the blog author and other readers will appreciate the value that you have added. The most effective format we have observed is the 3-part comment where first, you highlight something you liked, second, you draw from your own experience to augment the argument, and finally leave with an open question so the next person has a hook to continue the conversation.

Commenting raises your profile – Other readers of the blog or article will see your comment. If they find it insightful and interesting, then they may just look out for you, and read your articles elsewhere. The blog author will also see your comment and will appreciate it if you add some value to what they have written. They, too, may look out for you, or even actively seek out your articles.

It demonstrates your expertise in micro-form – When you comment on a blog by sharing your experience or using your subject matter expertise to add value, you are, effectively, building your credentials as an expert. If you are wary of launching straight into full articles and want to practice a bit first, expert comments can be a good way to build your confidence.

You are likely to learn something new – Sharing your thoughts encourages other people to share theirs, which in turn improves the debate. You may even find that your views change as a result of other people’s comments on yours and that you have learned something new. This, in turn, may be worth sharing further.

Commenting helps you to formalize your learning and insights –  Articulating your insights seems to be crucial for effective personal learning, which is why many successful people keep diaries or journals. Composing an insightful comment on someone else’s blog article helps you to formalize what you have learned from it—whether that is something new from the article itself or an insight that you have gained by adding the article to what you already know.

Reading widely may give you inspiration for blog articles of your own – To comment effectively, you need to read other people’s articles. You cannot engage fully with it if you haven’t read it; if you simply post something setting out your views, you are not engaging, you are broadcasting. Reading widely on your subject exposes you to other viewpoints, and it may even provide you with inspiration for more articles of your own.

You can add a link back to your own blog Some people are wary of adding a link, in case it gets them penalized by Google. Matt Cutts, one of Google’s webmasters, has made clear in a video that links that add value to comments will not be considered spam. If you comment with a link that points readers back to a relevant article on your blog, that will add value. A general link on a non-related blog may be considered spam.

You can share the article (and your comment) via social media – If you have commented on an article, you obviously think it is interesting. Your followers on social media may also find it interesting, so it is worth sharing more widely. As a bonus, they will also see your comment adding to the debate. Promoting someone else’s blog in this way also helps with the reciprocity point made earlier.

Commenting may lead to other opportunities – Many publishers offer guest post opportunities to people who leave insightful comments. It is, in other words, a way of becoming known to more people, which may in turn lead to more opportunities. It only takes 10 minutes a week; can you afford not to do it?

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