This week I’m sharing guidelines on positive Networking. Years ago I discovered a fantastic book “Power Networking – 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success”, by Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas. At times I’ll reference and embellish on some of their tips. See the previous post—Networking 101—for the introduction to this series of posts.
Networking is the most cost-effective marketing tool around when it is used wisely and professionally. It’s a valuable tool for the pre-published writer as well as the published writer. It’s never too early to start. Networking is a universal concept that can be applied to any career. Where everyone in your ‘net’ benefits.
That last line is a key motivator for me. Where everyone in your net benefits. In other words it’s not just about what someone can do for me. It’s what I can do to help someone else. At its best, networking is a mutual give and take.
To better understand what positive network is, let’s look at negative networking. According to “Power Networking – 55 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success”…
Networking is not:
* Using people strictly for your gain
* Coercing or manipulating someone to do what you want
* Putting friends or associates on the spot
* Badgering people about your business
Fisher and Vilas refer to people who use these tactics as “Networking Mongrels”. I think of them as sharks. I’m not talking about naturally outgoing people who can strike up genuine conversations with anyone they encounter. Those people are blessed! I’m talking about people who use and abuse networking situations. You may know a couple of sharks or perhaps you’ve heard stories. The following examples were offered by Fisher and Vilas. I’ve added observations of my own per random writing conferences. These are people who:
* Collect stacks of business cards without ever connecting with people
* Try to make a ‘sale’ on first encounter. During a cocktail party, or in the elevator, or during a luncheon speaker’s address. (I’m sorry, but people who insist on chattering while an invited speaker is on deck are just rude. If it’s that important, take the conversation outside) Where was I? Ah, yes… pitching your work at inappropriate times. Extremes include following an editor into a bathroom and sliding a manuscript under the stall, or tipping the maid to slip the manuscript into an editor or agent’s suitcase.
* Talk and focus on their agenda rather than listening with interest to gather information (In other words, don’t go on and on about you and your work, hogging the entire conversation. Ask the other person—or people—about their interests.
* Intrude inappropriately and have short, superficial interactions (Sure, you’re dying to meet that editor. But are they in an intense conversation with someone else? Think before you barge in.)
* Get caught up in quantity rather than quality
In short, acting in an obnoxious manner turns people off and ruins any positive effect you might have gained.
If you’ve done any of these things in the past, don’t feel bad, just be aware that rather than drawing positive attention to yourself, you’re probably turning people off. Which brings me to a simple thought: Think before you speak. I’ve been stunned by some things that have flown out of some people’s mouths whether they be directed at me or someone else.
Tomorrow, a look at positive networking.
Each day I’ll leave you with a quote on networking. The first one is by yours truly.
“Be gracious, genuine, courteous, and above all, generous. Expect nothing in return and you’ll be rewarded tenfold.” – Beth Ciotta, published author