So, there’s this thing that I used to fear. I would avoid it all costs and when I had to do it I would get all nervous, sometimes sweat a lot, forget my own name and usually drink a little to help me get through it. But, there were always people telling me to do it, that everyone was doing it and I would feel better when it was over. And, this was one instance where the voices of peer pressure were actually right.
My fear? Networking. And I have a feeling that a lot of writers out there feel the same way I felt. And still feel. I still don’t really like networking, but I have some sad news for you…if you want to make a career out of writing, like make money and do it as your day job and break away from that soul-sucking desk job that you hate so much, you really need to be networking. Because writing is a business. And to get ahead in business you need to meet people, make connections. Network.
I know, I know. Right now you’re probably thinking…
Writers typically don’t like talking to people. I get it. I feel ya. The thought of walking up to a complete stranger, introducing yourself and telling them that yes, you’re a writer, and getting all the questions and comments that come with that declaration, can be vomit-inducing. But, if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, even a little, some really good things will start to happen.
So, here are five reasons that, while most writers want to stay at home with their computers, their pets and their wine, they should step out into the networking world every once in awhile.
People Know People
You don’t have to meet all the people at once. Going to just one event, one workshop, one mixer, can start a domino effect. You meet one person. They know another person that isn’t there but is interested in your field or needs a writer or is familiar with the publishing world. You give them your card. They pass it on. Boom. Multiple contacts. Do this a few times and suddenly you have a network.
People Remember Writers
So, when you get there, what do you talk about?
You do what people do at networking events- talk about what your work.
Writing stands out to people. Don’t be ashamed to bring up your book or your latest project. Be honest. Be passionate. People remember passion. You never know who might remember you and bring you up in conversation a few weeks later to just the right people.
It Can Get You Jobs
If you are a writer looking to work in the professional writing world, you want jobs. And that person that remembered talking to you at that one event? They might know of some jobs. Or hear about one a few weeks after the event. Almost every long-term writing position I’ve held has been the result of a contact I’ve made at one point or another, through one person or another. I’ve heard of opportunities I would have missed if it hadn’t been for a contact pointing them out or sending them my way.
It can Offer a Safety Net
I recently moved to a new city and I have no idea where I would be if it weren’t for my incredible friends and colleagues that I’ve met over the years helping me out. I’ve heard so much, “You need to meet this person…” and “let me put you in contact with my friend there…” and “well I know this company is hiring, you should definitely check it out,” that sometimes it leaves my head spinning. In a good way. In a super grateful way. Now, keep in mind that these are people I’ve met over a span of six or so years. But, they are people I met either at events or by striking up conversations with, or through others I had already met. They became my network. I don’t think I need to tell you how you get one of those.
It Can Open Doors
It’s true when they say, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Well, it’s true to a point. You still should know stuff. But, you should also know people. People that know what you do and how well you do it and who know you well enough to care what happens to you. Because sometimes those people will have keys that will unlock doors that were previously locked to you.
So, long story short? Yea, you actually do need to network.
But hey, you can do this.