Sunday, July 8, 2007

On Writing: Networking in Your Comfort Zone

For those of you just joining me this week, I’ve been writing a series of posts about Networking. The term sends shivers down many people, especially shy people’s, spines. I think this stems from a misconception of what networking truly is. You don’t have to aggressively pitch yourself and your work to network effectively. Networking is about creating a ‘net’ of business contacts and acquaintances. Offering help as well as receiving help. Mutual give and take.

I believe I network well because I network in my comfort zone. I know, from years of experience and many attended conferences, that I am not going to easily walk up to an editor or agent or favorite author at a welcome reception or any other social situation, introduce myself, and engage them in any sort of conversation that will serve them or me well. I’m too shy.

But I do know if I volunteer to work as a time keeper for the editor/agent appointments, I’ll feel quite comfortable conversing with editors and agents. I have a reason to be there and interact with them other than to pitch my own work. I have no problem introducing myself and sometimes, sometimes that prompts a question about me. A connection has been made. By making sure they have everything they need and moving the pitching writers along in a timely and kind manner, I’m making a good impression. Maybe the writer will remember that I smiled and tried to put them at ease. Maybe the editor or agent will remember my name and that I was friendly should I ever send a query letter.

I’ve met many favorite authors, authors I would have been too nervous to approach out of the blue, by volunteering to moderate their workshop.

I’ve made incredibly valuable industry contacts by utilizing my entertainment background. Over the years I have volunteered to help with a multitude of special events for the Romantic Times Convention. I’ve worked as a script writer, stage director, technical director, singer, actress, model, and emcee.

The trick is to pinpoint your special skills and talents. Your comfort zone.

Networking in the Comfort Zone:

* Volunteer
Are you organized? Politically minded? Good with numbers? Serve on your local chapter or national board. Serve on a special committee. Conferences, local and national.

Are you motivated, have nerves of steel and the patience of a saint? Be the conference chair. Are you friendly? Work conference registration. Not afraid of driving in traffic? Transport an editor, agent or speaker from the airport to convention hotel. Good at calming people down? Work the editor/agent appointments. Whether you’re outgoing or shy, there’s a responsibility big or small that’s perfect for you.

* Internet Loops/Forums
An excellent way to meet other writers and to get your name out there is by participating on writers and readers loops and forums. Just remember to always reread what you wrote before you hit send. Once your words (and opinion on a subject) is on the Net, it’s there forever. Consider what kind of lasting impression you want to make.

* Blog
Whether you’re published or unpublished, this is a excellent way to network via the internet. Again, seriously consider what kind of impression you want to make.

* Write Articles
Write and submit to industry magazines, newsletters, and reader/writer websites

* Conduct Workshops


Everyone has special skills and abilities that can be useful to others. Utilize your talents and abilities and let those be your gift to your network. Are you a grammar goddess? Are you a wiz at designing websites? Are you an accountant with tips on tax cuts? Do you collect medieval weaponry or period costuming? Do you have specialized knowledge in law enforcement? Do you excel in people skills? Do you take ballroom dancing? Yoga?

If you are creative and open-minded… if you can push past the fear of rejection and put yourself out there… you will be amazed at how you can use your natural skills and talents to enhance your network.

Thank you for allowing me to share my views on a topic near and dear to my heart. To those attending RWA National next week… listen, learn, contribute when you can, and have fun! And remember, networking isn’t just something you do while at conferences, it’s something you do throughout your career.

Quote for the Day:

“If you want to be prosperous for a year, grow grain.
If you want to be prosperous for ten years, grow trees.
If you want to be prosperous for a lifetime, grow people.”
-- Proverb

2 comments:

Julee Ann said...

Love this post. And it must have worked because I feel comfortable leaving a comment. Thanks for the tips. I put you in my favorites.

Beth Ciotta said...

Hi, Julee Ann. I'm glad you found the post useful and very glad you felt comfortable enough to comment! Connection made. ;)

Flattered to be included in your favorites. Have a great day!