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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Networking potential

Every time I think I’ve caught up with my email, 25 more emails show up. I stay active within a lot of groups. It’s interesting to note what a delicate balance I’ve maintained when it came to my available time. Drop off the game for more than a few days and you wake up to an avalanche of mail.

That’s okay. Mail diminishes on the weekend so I should catch up by then.

I can’t sit for long periods of time. My insides feel like they pinch if I stay in a bended position, so I’m constantly returning to bed throughout the day. Doc says I’ll feel that tugging feeling for months but every day should get better.

One of the emails I answered today came about from my last workshop on marketing. Two of the students offered to form a Writing Career Coaching group. If I understood it correctly, it will be the basis of a relationship where we encourage and support our writing peers with information and camaraderie.

We are still in our infancy so details are sketchy but I’ll give an update as more information becomes available. My spidey sense tells me this is a golden opportunity so I wanted to take advantage of it while I could.

But this brings me to today’s topic on how to choose networking partners. It never hit home more poignantly than something that occurred to me about a year ago. They call it networking for a reason. If you exist merely to take, you are a pariah and detrimental to the whole. I believe even newbies have something to offer if you are willing to look beyond the surface.

Last year I attended a function where I met some really big movers and shakers. I was grateful a few of them chose to include me in their circle even though I hadn’t been published in fiction yet. Among these people, I met one particular woman who was clearly in control of her destiny. She had a contract for three books, had been published in several other venues and understood the publishing industry intimately. We also had immediate chemistry. We just liked each other.

At the same function, I also met someone else. She wasn’t published, and even admitted that she knew her skills weren’t sufficient yet. She was still in the learning stage. But this young lady had something that none of the other accomplished writers had. She had a presence that I recognized immediately. When she walked into a room her smile made you feel important. When she spoke, it was as if you were old friends. What she possessed was a gift that few people (including myself) lack.

While I know I will someday reach the acumen level of my first friend, I will likely never develop the charisma of my second friend. It’s a gift that few people possess.

Which one of these ladies will make the better networking partner? Both! I’ve learned a great deal about the publishing industry from my first friend. But deep down, I think I learned something even more valuable from my second friend.

I think as long as you’re willing to offer instead of take, to inspire instead of whine, to focus rather than scatter your forces to the winds, you'll have what it takes to succeed.

Mantra for today: Make your life an active verb and discover all the fun you've been missing.