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Monday, July 23, 2007

RWA, Networking

Well, let's see. By now all the Potter fans have had their Potter fix. I'll get the full plot scoop later today from one of my friends, but I have to admit, I did sneak a peak at the last few pages when I was at Walmart yesterday. Obviously, the rumors I saw on the internet were false. I'm kind of glad. ---and no, I won't tell you.

I finished my novel, Touch of Fire and am working feverishly on the edit before the editor decides she doesn't want it anymore. I'm still a little unsure of the title. It sounds a little plebian to me.

This novel took me to so many places for research. If Google is cataloging my search history, it won't surprise me if the DEA shows up at my door. My main character is an apothecary 1200 years in the future and she uses a lot of herbs and other botanicals to create medicines and poisons. I made some stuff up and the rest I laced with research.

This was a short piece for me and it probably could stand to be a bit longer. My crit partners will help in telling me where to flesh it out more. For now the story itself is done –in record time, mind you. There is a long, comical story related to this journey that I'll tell at a later date. Only in my strange, ironic life do such things happen.

Once the editing is done I am going straight to a short story that's been swirling in my head since the conference. And after that it is back to nonfiction, interspersed with that SF thriller I'm still working on.

Nice Surprise: Heather from Writing on the Wall, passed on the Thoughtful Blogger Award to me. How sweet is that? I'm going to have to think hard about who to pass it onto next. I read a lot of great blogs. I guess I can give it to more than one person.

Do yourself a favor and stop by Writing on the Wall. They have some terrific posts on editing and writing. I was just swimming in that place and soaking up all that great knowledge. Five different editors take turns posting on the blog and you'll find some real gems from their experience. If you go to their website, they also offer a FREE critique for your first ten pages.

Okay, I promised an RWA workshop post today. One of the first panels I attended was called Networking without Trauma. Gotta love the title!

Networking can be an overwhelming endeavor, but only if you make it that way. I personally feel networking is as easy or as hard as you want to make it.

Nearly everything the speaker said was something I learned from personal experience. But I think what made this particular workshop interesting was when she opened it up for questions.

One young woman brought up the ugly side of networking, those all encompassing cliques, those bastions of the self-righteous and anointed.

You all know who they are. No matter where you go, whether it's a live group or an internet list group, there are always those people who make one little bitty remark and the whole group apes over them as if they delivered some messianic epistle. When the person who posed the question got up and gave an example of the drama that develops on her list group the entire roomful of people started nodding their heads in acknowledgment. We've all been there.

So how do you break down the walls of clique-dom? The best way, I think, is to pose a question or offer a (free) resource. Never try to sell yourself (or your book) on a list group. And don't expect people to come out of the woodworks to embrace you. Most won't. If you're normally a lurker, learn to post more regularly so that you're not seen as an opportunistic leech. (sorry, there's just no better word than that)

Most groups are generally reserved until they know you. If you come on too strong it paints you a bit bombastically. Let them get to know you slowly. Let them see you at their meetings, or your name on regular posts. This way you come off as the genuine article and not someone out to promote his book.

I don't post on list groups much unless I found some neat new website or heard about a contest that will interest my genre specific groups. I should post more, and probably will as my writing projects wind down during the year. Right now I have four groups I follow religiously. I post maybe once every couple of months. Not enough to call it networking, but enough that the regulars know my name.

And what are the other tips for networking? Glad you asked.

• Recognize your limitations. If you know you're an introvert, (like me), know that your networking is not going to reach thousands of people. But it might reach a hundred people who will be there for you when you need them.

• Volunteer. For me, this is the easiest way to network. I volunteer ALL the time. My friends often wonder where I have the time, let alone the energy, but you know, volunteering is one of those things I really enjoy. I'm never asked to do anything difficult and I meet the nicest people.

• Break out of your comfort zone. Amen, sister! This is the one thing I am always telling people to do. So many folks cling to their little cliques afraid to take one step away from friends or cohorts. You don't grow if you stay put. Spread your wings and see what else is out there.

• Invite people to sit with you if you're at an event (like a con or lecture). If I'm by myself and I see someone wandering around lost, I always invite them to sit with me.

• Email people and compliment them. If someone says something profound or helpful, I like to email them off list and extend my kudos. It's just a nice thing to do and people appreciate the validation.

• Don't suck up. There's a fine line between being gracious and sucking up so much you could deflate a tire. Don't suck up. It's noticeable and really tacky.

• Join professional organizations, like Toastmasters or Linked In.

• Always be helpful.

• Stay in touch. That's the whole point of networking.

• Expect nothing. Accept everything. (Don't you just love that saying?)

I think the best thing Katy Cooper said that day was this:
Networking is a well. If you put into it, you can draw from it.
If you don't put in, you might still draw from the well, but it will dry up on you when you need it most.

Wednesday: Honing Your Pitch


Stephanie said...

Thanks for all the great networking advice. So many things I still need to learn :)

Maria Zannini said...

You're welcome, Stephanie!