Networking. You know. It’s what we do to form mutually-beneficial relationships.
When put that way, it sounds pretty cold-blooded, doesn’t it? It shouldn’t be, not when it’s accomplished with people with whom we have something in common. And if it’s a guilt-inducer for you, you’re probably going about it all wrong.
For this (in-person) introvert, I have to say I LOVE to network online. I’ve met so many great people—writers, readers, other Christians—through my social media activities and writing organizations. They live near me, they live in other parts of the country, they even live in other countries. I make new friends, commiserate with and encourage peers (and vice-versa), and support the writing of others while they support mine. Win-win-win!
If you’ve been writing during these first years of the twenty-first century, you know it can no longer be a tunnel-vision activity—sitting at a desk pounding out manuscript after manuscript and focusing solely on our own work. (I did that for years.) We should and must mingle with like-minded people. Thankfully, the internet has helped those of us who find it hard to string to two words together at a party, yet can virtually chat with anyone.
As my daughter has looked for a job in her career field, I’ve stressed networking, yet she shies away from it because she worries it smacks of stalking or taking advantage of people. Not if you keep these “BG”s in mind.
- Be Genuine – Connect with people you sincerely want to know better and let them see you as a person as well as a writer. You may receive the added bonus of striking up in-person friendships with those who live close by. **I’m waving to my NC/SC pals!**
- Be Generous – How many times have you heard, “It’s not about you”? Well, those words should never be truer than when you’re making connections with other people. Use your talent to help others develop craft. If you hear of a publisher or agent who you think might be interested in someone’s work, share the news. When you expect to receive more than you’re willing to give, it becomes about you.
- Be Grateful - After years of writing in the closet (so to speak), I never pass up a chance to get the word out that I’m a writer with books on the market, and I’m so grateful to those who help me do so.
- Be a Grower – It’s hard to admit (and you may find it hard to believe), but I don’t know everything. Bad news: neither do you. Iron sharpens iron, y’all.
I know I’m preaching to the choir, but here’s the bottom line: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31 NAS)
Networking is relationship, and if you don’t form genuine, generous, and grateful relationships, you won’t grow—as a person or as a writer.