I’m not going to lie – networking is a lot of work, and you have to be motivated to do it. But one day you’ll just be talking to someone and you’ll stop and realize, Oh my god! I’m networking! Networking isn’t as scary as it sounds. It’s a matter of being curious about what other people are doing and having them be interested in what you’re doing.
Last month at the Boston Book Festival, aside from meeting some people and attending events, I spent a good hour walking up to many of the tents with authors and literary-related institutions. I had some weaponry in my Impress People arsenal with working in a library and being an editor for Buck Off Magazine. I used these things to relate to the people at the booths I visited.
Now, I’m a pretty shy person. I don’t usually talk much to people I don’t know, and I’m not a conversation starter. So I was really surprised when I was in the middle of asking questions to a woman from the Board of Library Commissioners tent and suddenly thought to myself, Look at me talking so much! I’m networking and didn’t even know it! I found myself going up to people and asking questions about information I really wanted to know. I felt as if I had just discovered a superpower, an easy one that anyone can have if they don’t think about it and just do it. Let that be my first networking tip: just do it! That’s really all there is to networking.
Here are some more easy things you can do to get your name out there and get yourself noticed:
- Have business cards with you. I had Buck Off Magazine business cards I was able to hand out to people at BBF who sounded interested in learning more about the magazine.
- Blog and Social Media. If you have a blog and keep up with it, you can share it on your Facebook and other social media sites. It starts with your friends, but the more practice with writing you get, the better it will be, and more people will share your work until you have a following. Don’t forget to look at and comment on other people’s blogs. If you notice other people, they are more likely to notice you too.
- Join a writing/creative group. This is a good way to get feedback on your work with other writers and maybe find some inspiration.
- Go to literary events. You will meet so many authors and other important people in the literary industry, such as editors or curators, you might need one day if you want to be published and have people share and recommend your work.
- NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month isn’t just “Go write a novel and that’s it.” If you decide to do it and sign up through the NaNoWriMo website, you will be able to connect with other people who are determined to write a novel, as well as published authors giving pep talks. You can also chat in forums, allowing you to meet people you might not get to meet in person, and thus expand your following.
- Get their information. Networking is a two-way street. Make sure you get contact information from the people you meet. Once you do, you can reach out to them and turn a one-time meeting into a friendship of sorts.
What tips do you have for successful networking? Share in the comments!