True or false: Our success as writers is not solely dependent on our ability to write.
Whether you want to admit it or not, that statement is true. We need to form relationships in the publishing world to increase our chances of success.
No one, and I mean no one, has not needed help making it to the top of their field. At some point or another, we’ve all had to ask for help, support, or guidance.
And having the right people in your corner when the going gets tough, or when you’re floating on cloud nine, can mean all the difference to your long-term success as an author. But to find those people, you need to put yourself out there. To ask for that help and to give it back in return.
So we’re going to talk about networking today. What it is, why you need it, and how to do it successfully.
What is Networking and Why Do We Need It?
Writers have a bad reputation when it comes to networking. You’ve heard the stories about how we’re all cave-dwelling hermits that live and die by the words our fingers type on a keyboard.
You might hear about one or two of us having these insanely social blogs or active social media accounts, but these seem to be rare occurrences.
We’re known for being introverts, and we kind of like it that way.
But we find that this introversion becomes a mighty challenge when it gets to the point where we need to grow a following, publish a book, or even selling our book, which means that we need to brush up on our networking skills.
First, let’s start with our definition. According to Investopedia:
Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.
Networking can happen in numerous places – writing conferences, networking events, job fairs, on the internet. You can almost say that we do it all the time.
But it can be a little intimidating talking to someone you don’t know – in person or on the internet. But we must take that leap of faith into the unknown – and here’s why.
Why is Networking Beneficial for Writers?
No matter what you’re looking for, networking can provide a lot of benefits:
- It creates a support system. Writers are the best at understanding what other writers go through, so it’s always handy to have a few writer friends to help you through the good and bad times.
- It helps you improve your writing skills. Each writer writes differently and uses different techniques to get their stories across to others. Reading what others have done or getting critiqued by someone helps you grow as a writer.
- Access to resources. This is great for when you want to try writing in a different genre. Having access to another writer’s database on period dress or weapons could save you a lot of time and energy down the road.
- Connect you to opportunities. Finding editors, literary agents, and publishing houses can be a pain, but if someone knows of an agent looking for new authors to represent can give you a leg up on everyone else looking for the same thing. Or even getting to know editors and publishers gives you a leg up.
- It gets your name out there. And not just to potential agents or publishers, but to readers too.
Most importantly, it makes sure that we know that we’re not alone. Writing is a lonely profession if it’s all that you do, so it’s good to “get out of the house” once in a while to socialize.
How to Network Successfully
You don’t have to be an extrovert to network successfully. And you don’t need a phone full of people to call to be successful.
Knowing just one or two key people can turn the tide for your writing career. This person could be an influential blogger with ties to the publishing industry. It could be a literary agent or an editor.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who the person is as long as you make a quality connection with them.
Because that connection has a network of their own that they can lean on for information, resources, and support, and just by making friends with that person, you also can have access to that person’s network, and so on.
This is all great until you go: how do I create a thriving network?
Things to Keep in Mind When Networking
Networking is easier when you go in prepared. So keep the following in mind for the next time you decided to attend a conference:
- Find your scene.
This idea comes from author and blogger Jeff Goins. He believes that you should join your local scene or a conference and find your people. These people might be graphic designers, artists, or other writers. They all have the same ideas that you do.
Why? Because it’ll be easier to spark a conversation up with them and make a genuine connection. You have something in common with them.
- Connect with people on your level
You want to find people that are just as ambitious, motivated, and talented as you, and then help them get to where they want to go. As you both progress up the ladder, you have a great circle of influence that people are going to want to join. You become the influencer that you tried to connect with initially.
While your relationships with influencers can help, they also don’t mean much in the long term. They’re busy people. They’re not going to be there to help you every step of the way.
Your peer group of like-minded people, on the other hand, can be there for you when you need it. You also have more of these people in this peer group, which adds up to more.
- Don’t go to free-for-all networking events.
According to this Writer’s Digest guest blogger, networking events can be counterproductive to what we want to do, which is to connect with other like-minded individuals.
But I’d like to say don’t go to just any networking event, find ones that target a particular niche that you’re either a part of or would like to become a member of.
- Always carry business cards.
You never know who you might meet at a writing conference, so make sure that you carry some business cards that display your name and link to your website or social media pages.
Also, make sure you’re investing in yourself. Don’t go for the free business cards with advertising on the back. It can send the wrong message to the recipient, especially if you want to be taken seriously.
- Pace yourself.
I’m going to take a lesson from Devora Zack’s book, Networking for People Who Hate Networking. As introverts, we need to have downtime so we can recharge and perform at our best, and we need to apply that logic to networking.
You don’t have to meet everyone and connect with everyone there – you’re just going to overwhelm yourself. Instead, focus on meeting one or two people and working up from there. And don’t forget to take breaks to recharge.
6. Maintain the connection
The most important part of networking isn’t just going out there to talk to people. It’s also about keeping in touch with those people and offering value to those connections.
What value means is going to be different for every connection you make. It could be as simple as letting someone cry on your shoulder about the latest writing failure or forwarding an interesting article on how to write science fiction.
Now that you know how to network, you just need to figure out where to go.
Where Can You Network?
Networking technically happens every time that we step outside and meet a new person. And it doesn’t have to be done in large groups of people.
You can always meet up and conduct one-on-one sessions, which can be harder to do, but it also gives you the chance to make a more lasting connection.
The internet is also a great place to meet new people. There are a ton of blogs and online communities that you can join. Your blog is an excellent way for you to meet new people.
And the best thing about all of them? They all contain people who like the same things that you do, making it easy to strike up a conversation.
On top of this, there are multiple spots for you to get noticed and market your books. You can become a guest blogger or a guest speaker for a podcast.
And just when you think that things couldn’t get any better, they can. All of this networking is going to help your search engine optimization (SEO). By adding links to your website in the comments section or a guest post can bring in those coveted inbound links from other sites.
Networking can do wonders for your SEO and career as an author. By applying these simple tips, you’ll be ready to market your book to millions of people around the world. And you get to make new friends that understand what you’re going through because they’re going through the same thing themselves.
So get out there and talk to random strangers on the internet. Follow up on your promises to send articles their way to help with research or put them in contact with your editor. All of these things will benefit you in the long-run.
And instead of ignoring that, share your thoughts in the comments section of a blog, maybe comment. Talk to the person who wrote that post or article. It could lead to a wonderful opportunity for both of you.
Are there any go-to places that you visit to talk to other writers? Or anything that you do to make new friends with other bloggers? Please share in the comments below!
Stay safe, everyone!