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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Networking

I think of all the things required for building a writing career, I enjoy networking the most. I love learning about other people. I love to ask them questions about themselves and where they live. Our conversations might never even touch on writing. For me, it's the human connection.

A friend of mine once cautioned me about all my volunteering, knowing that it eats up a lot of my time. It's true. Donating time to help with a newsletter, a friend's website, a peer's critique or a group's live workshop is demanding on an already busy life with a fulltime career, but I truly believe it has helped me as a writer.

You know the common wisdom that says: Writers write. I also believe a good writer listens. That skill has improved my writing tremendously.

People sometimes mistakenly think that networking is about mingling with large groups of people (which I'm not good at). Networking can be as intimate as two people. For my money, it also works the best because that person has all my attention.

How can you network?

• Comment. Don't be shy about posting comments on other people's blogs, even if you don't know them well. I try to respond to anyone who posts here because I want them to feel welcomed and I want them to know their comments are appreciated.

• Participate in your writer loops. I am a profound lurker, but I do try to post if it's something that's important to me. Sometimes people are afraid someone might jump on them should they say something contrary to the party line. Yes, there are always THOSE people, but bear in my mind that most of us know they're cretins, so their inappropriate comments mean nothing.

• Take up an online workshop. I've formed friendships with a lot of people after meeting them in an online workshop. Not only will you learn something, but you'll meet kindred spirits.

• Write articles. If you have a particular expertise, pitch an article to your group's newsletter or other writing forums like: Vision: A Resource for Writers or Writers Finders.

• Critique. I can't begin to tell you how many worthwhile relationships I've formed from critiquing in a public forum. Plus, it's another learning boost for your writing.

• Volunteer at live events. Even if all you do is serve coffee, you'll meet people. Welcome them warmly. I've memorized the nametags of several people who did nothing more than greet me at the door and when I ran into problems with this or that, I emailed them afterwards. Not only were they able to help me (or refer me to someone who could) but it started a dialog between us. We were no longer strangers.

• Release your enthusiasm! People want to be around other people who are happy and content in their skins.

Remember that networking is not what you can get from other people. It's what you can give.

4 comments:

angeleque said...

What a great post. Thanks.

Networking is something I struggle with because of my shyness. It's hard to open myself up to others for a variety of reasons but something that I'm definitely working on.

Maria Zannini said...

Little steps are the best way to deal with shyness.

I like to think we (writers) are all in this together. Veteran or newbie, we all have pangs of insecurity, painful rejections, or days when we can't write a simple sentence. lol.

Thanks for stopping by, Angeleque!

rcloenen-ruiz said...

I had to smile reading your post, as I so recognize my own tendency to not speak that much when in a crowd.

Networking is a skill I do need to cultivate. It's not easy though.

Maria Zannini said...

Hi Rochita!

>>It's not easy though.

And yet, you're doing it right now. :o) Not so hard when you break it down in little chunks.

I don't claim any great skill in schmoozing. But I am genuinely interested in people and that's a great way to start.