How I Got the Gig - Networking Ideas for Writers

Don’t Schmooze? You Lose: The 5 P’s Of Networking for Authors

Copyright Beth Morrow  
- All Rights Reserved

 

 

One element of writing that strikes fear in the heart of the author is speaking up in the name of self-promotion. Not all writers are introverts, of course, but many writers are uncomfortable when the time comes to meet new people, break out of their comfort zone and approaching someone who can potentially help our career.

There’s both good and bad news about expanding your circle of literary colleagues. Bad news: You must speak up to become successful. Good news: Networking is easier than you think.

How easy? Check out this list and see for yourself:

 

1.      Successful networking is personal

Networking is based on the premise of breaking large groups of people into individuals who can benefit the author’s career in some capacity. Think beyond the typical editor and agent here: published authors who can share invaluable advice, professionals who have research knowledge crucial to your plot, other writers looking for critique partners, email loops or goal-setting groups. Building personal relationships in the writing and publishing world is the same as establishing meaningful partnerships in the “regular” world. Others want to get to know you for yourself and your business, just as you want to connect with them, so be respectful and honest from the start. Don’t pry if your new contact is shy; rather, pick a common area of interest (to eliminate pressure) and see where the conversation goes.

2.       Successful networkers areprofessional

If you aren’t published (yet), and even if you are, remember that the impression you leave with your new acquaintance will linger long after your initial discussion has ended. Make your best effort to maintain professionalism at all times, even if the conversation does not go in a direction you would like. Rub an editor the wrong way on the first chance and it’s likely they’ll never forget you in the future—and not for the right reasons.

3.       Successful networking is about potential

As I mentioned above, networking is about meeting and connecting with a variety of people from all walks of life who have one thing in common: enriching your life in some way. Limiting yourself to the belief that you only want to go to conferences with a certain agent or workshops with one author is a good way to start gaining confidence to attend writing gatherings, but you never know how the others you meet along the way might help. Maybe not now, but writers are one of the most open, caring groups of people who genuinely enjoy helping others. You never know where the next good idea or helpful tidbit will come from. Why not surround yourself with interesting people to help foster your own growth?

4.       Successful networkers are positive

No one likes a complainer, whiner or wimp. Period. It irks others to no end to meet writers, published or unpublished, who gives more reasons to not buy their work (or to not consider them a ‘real’ writer) than enjoying the interaction of a new relationship. If the first thing you do is make an excuse for your writing (“I only write short stories because I don’t have good ideas for longer ones”), complain about the lack of editor/agent interest in your work (you never know who may be a friend or client of those you’re berating), or whine that you never have enough time/energy/creativity to actually sit down and writer (who does?!), it’s guaranteed you’ll turn the other person off—almost immediately. We all have our own personal writing issues, and there is always a time and place to discuss them, but that time is not at the initial stage of a networking opportunity. Save your gripes for later and put on your best smile. If you don’t find confidence in yourself, how can anyone else?

5.       Successful networking relies on preparation

Networking is also about promotion. If you’re published, you know this all to well and nothing needs repeating. If you’re not yet published (or newly published), use this time to bolster your image by establishing yourself as a credible, potential author. Business cards are an easy way to do this. Not only does it make collecting information simple, it will jog the memory of your conversation at a later date. Many authors are nervous about tooting their own horn, so practice what you’ll say before you meet others. Compliments are a great way to start a conversation. Volunteering at a conference or writing event often opens channels of communication because talking is a part of the job. Think ahead about topics of conversation you can introduce if you meet someone fascinating but get tongue-tied. Be one step ahead of where you’re starting to get the most from every networking opportunity.

Authors learn early in the publishing game that there’s far more to writing books than just, well, writing. Networking may be intimidating, but it does get easier the more you do it. Take full advantage of every chance you get to network to add friends, increase colleagues and invite readers to your work. Make it your mission to expand your network and your career will reap the benefits.

 

About the author: Beth Morrow is a freelance author whose writing colleagues (and family) find it hard to believe that she used to be a shy writer. She’s awaiting the publication of her first nonfiction book while jumping back into fiction writing with both feet. Visit her blog for her take on the writing life combined with (almost) daily resources for writers at: www.writer-in-progress.blogspot.com

 

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