10 Ideas for Networking
Whether you’re a staff employee at your workplace, or you’re a home-based freelancer, you’ll benefit from a proactive effort to make yourself a part of a professional or interest-based community. Try one or more of these networking options:
1. Join an online writers’ community or social-networking site. (They abound on the Web; I chose this one as an example because of the clever play on the name of the professional-networking site Linked In.)
3. Sign up with a genre-specific writers’ association, such as the Mystery Writers of America.
4. Form or join a writing group.
5. Look up a site for writers of fan fiction, such as FanFiction.net.
6. Take a writing or literature class or workshop, and keep in touch with the students (and the instructor).
7. Attend writers’ conferences or enroll in an MFA program.
8. Attend (or organize) author events, poetry readings, open mics, and other literary gatherings.
9. Cultivate relationships with editors and with other writers. A rejection letter can be a beginning as well as an ending, and freelance writers (and editors) can pass leads on or hand surplus projects off to each other.
10. Develop your networking skills outside the writing realm by joining a civic or professional organization, volunteering with a nonprofit organization, or getting involved with a club or a hobby group.
When attending events or other assemblages, exchange business cards or email addresses with fellow participants, but don’t treat the gatherings like speed-dating nights. Focus on meeting and engaging with no more than several people. It’s all about quality, not quantity, and especially when it comes to recurring events, you’ll always have another opportunity to meet someone you missed before.
Writers are stereotyped as being wallflowers. That’s not always true, of course, but stereotypes come from somewhere. If you’re shy, try these strategies:
- Ask a more outgoing partner or friend to go with you and let them lead you into introductions.
- Find the most uncomfortable-looking person at the event, note that they’re probably feeling more nervous than you are, and go up to them and smile and say, “Me, too.”
- Reassure yourself that you don’t have to say a thing about yourself; let the other person do all the talking (unless they turn the tables on you or become tiresome).
- Come up with a stock question: “What’s your favorite novel?” “What are you reading?” “How’s your book coming?”