This time of the year it seems as though there is an endless array of parties and social gatherings to fill up your evenings.  Some of these gatherings are going to involve your co-workers or friends and family, who you already know and love (or at least can bear).  However, everyone knows what it is like to attend a gathering where you may only know a few people.

In these situations you have several options.

Some people will be a wallflower and sip their drink in the corner or glom on to the one person who they know throughout the night.  There are also those who will go out and try to meet as many people as humanly possible and exchange cards as though they were at ad:tech.  Finally, there are those who will engage with a more limited array of people.

Now consider the process of link building (which is quintessentially a social practice).

Those who take a blitzkrieg approach to fostering social connections are the rote link builders.  At a party they are going to be the people that tell the same story or the same joke and work the room in it’s entirety with little or no regard for the people they are actually interacting with.

From a link-building perspective this would be the people who use boilerplate communication and try to hit as many people as humanly possible (aka the spammers).

Those who are sitting by the wall sipping their drink and watching the party are only slightly better off.  These are the non-link builders who still don’t understand the importance of social engagement in the online world.  They may be the most fascinating person in the world yet may go through the entire evening without engaging in one interaction and at the end of the day they may have even gained less social capital than the spammers.

Finally, there are the balanced socializers – those who truly make an effort to engage with others at the party and ultimately forge meaningful, sustainable relationships based upon their interactions.  They realize the true secret to link building – that it is more about quality than quantity of interaction and that developing a handful of meaningful relationships is far better than developing a copious amount of irrelevant relationships.

Within all this, the role that a newswire plays is to provide you, the attendee at the social gathering, with a platform.  It is as though the host of the party comes by with a microphone and asks you to perform a toast.

The toast is an opportunity to share a little of yourself with the entire room at one time.  It can be a social catalyst if you have something worth sharing (it can also be terribly embarassing if you don’t).

However, the toast is an overture and not the coda.

You give your heart-warming toast that has everyone in the room tearing up.  After you give the toast is when the work actually begins.  The toast has brought you to the the forefront of the party but that doesn’t mean that you have created a sustainable bond with everyone.  People may come up and introduce themselves to you but you still have to interact with them and show them why you are worth creating a sustained bond with.

In the world of news, those people are the bloggers, journalists, consumers and other stakeholders out in the world and ultimately it is those links that are going to have a bearing on your search capital (or your social capital if we’re still in the metaphor).

So to wrap things up in a neat little bow, the news release is a catalyst, not the finality.  Link-building is an ongoing process that requires a dedicated and diligent effort – news releases should play a prominent role in the overall process however their real value is in getting your news in front of the people that matter to your business.