The What, Why, Where, Who, and How
For writers in the time of Covid-19, WHO you know is more important than ever.
Writing is a solitary pursuit. In these days of social isolation that’s a very good thing — we don’t have to change too much…
Or do we?
While I believe these times bring unprecedented opportunities to writers as people confined to homes devour written words like pandas eating their weight in bamboo every day, it’s no time to rest. Opportunities rarely fall in your lap without doing some leg work first — and that’s where networking shines at bringing connections and opportunities you dare not even dream of yet.
As so many of we writers are introverts — people who need time alone to recharge their energy levels — networking doesn’t always come easily. It can be daunting and draining to say the least.
Yet the ability to connect with others, not just with our written words but in real life, is highly valuable and can reap many benefits and opportunities.
Despite being an introvert, I’ve become an advocate of networking to connect with people and build relationships as so many wonderful things have come from simply reaching out, helping others and getting to know people.
Let’s explore the ‘journalism questions’ and delve into the what, why, where, who and how of networking for writers. As we explore each of these areas you will discover your own motivation while also learning best networking practices.
WHAT is networking?
What it is –
The dictionary definition of networking is ‘interacting with others to exchange information and develop social or professional connections’.
Networking is about helping people, solving problems, making friends and building relationships.
It’s the beginning of the much lauded ‘Know, Like and Trust’ process on which good relationships are founded.
What it’s not –
It’s NOT about selling or prospecting. And while you will certainly make sales and have great opportunities open up to you, they will be more a BYPRODUCT of networking to connect and networking to serve than a direct result of you trying to sell something.
I had a classic example of this the other day — I was a guest speaker on a Masterclass for copywriters run by a highly regarded copywriter and entrepreneur. While I was happy to share my knowledge of networking, WITHOUT any expectation of return, I was chuffed to see some book sales come through after the event.
And it’s not just the sales that benefit me — grateful as I am for them. I’m even more appreciative that the relationships with these people are developing and growing stronger — and that when an opportunity comes up for a person with my skill set, I’m who they will refer.
– Your success as a writer does not depend solely on your ability to write. Knowing the right people is always a huge advantage.
– Writing is a solo vocation — at times you will benefit from the help, support and guidance of others. I met my writing accountability buddy online — our relationship has improved the quantity and quality of our writing greatly and we also share opportunities.
– Find a mentor, become a mentor. Writers as a community are generally very helpful and supportive of each other — hook into the wisdom of an experienced writer, and in turn, share your knowledge with a newer writer. Everybody wins.
– Opportunities open up — to collaborate, speak, sell books, be interviewed on podcasts, radio, TV, do guest blogs, feature articles, paid writing
– Be inspired, learn from others
One of the very best things about networking is that I don’t have to chase clients anymore — they come to me by referral or as we talk about their business and I offer suggestions to help. If I’m not the best person for what they need, I refer them to someone who is. This demonstrates networking is NOT about sales but about building relationships. Instead of selling one book, I build a relationship that leads to many hours of consultancy or copywriting work.
WHERE to network –
Many of the places that were offline ie in real life, are online as we implement social distancing.
These previously location-based gatherings are no longer either ‘local’ or ‘too far away’ as meetings and events are online rather than cancelled
– Writer’s groups
– Meetup groups
– Conferences, workshops, seminars, lectures etc
– Open Mic reading opportunities
You can now participate in these from the comfort of your own home, no matter where they are. The tyranny of distance is dead. Just log in and enjoy.
You don’t need to wait for a special event to network — you can connect with people online via any of these
– LinkedIn, LinkedIn groups
– Facebook, Facebook groups
– Video and Facebook Lives, YouTube
And anywhere else your potential readers or connections hang out.
WHO to network with
- Connect with readers, writers, publishers, editors, agents, podcasters, media etc and people who will refer you to these
- You don’t know who knows who so treat all connections with warmth and respect
- People that you like. Genuine connection comes from mutual trust and friendship — don’t try and deal with someone you neither like nor trust.
HOW to network
I have so much more information to share with you but these Top Tips are a great start and very valuable.
· Have an intention, set goals. Make a commitment to network one, two or three times a week — whatever suits your level of social energy. Also commit to meeting new people at each event. Decide what networking success looks like to you — it may be as simple as having a good conversation with one person you hadn’t met before.
· Be prepared — research who will be there that you would like to meet; rest before the event (especially if you are an introvert) so you have enough social energy; have business cards, books, pen and smartphone at the ready; have an escape plan.
· Be of service — help the organiser, give your book as a raffle or door prize, refer people to other people whom you trust, show people how you help solve problems
· It’s not about you — make the conversation about the other person, ask questions that show that you are interested in them as a person and not just in a business capacity.
· Build trust — give something before you ask for anything.
· Connect with people on the spot — get your Smartphone out and ask the person you would like to connect with which social media platform they use most. Send a connection request immediately with a brief note about how great it is to meet them.
· FOLLOW UP with people you really connect with. Follow them on social media and COMMENT on their posts. Send an email or message to follow up on your initial conversation. Make a coffee date or time to connect again.
For an easy to read, step by step guide to creating great opportunities through networking, see my book. Networking has brought so many wonderful things to my life that I wrote this book because I want you to reap all the benefits too.
With warmest regards from
Author of ‘Pain-free Networking for Introverts’ — available on Amazon now.