In My Words: Networking: It's Not All About You
Most people who know me don't believe me when I say that. Why? Because I don't mind leading out in a group, being the first one to say hello, the one to get the conversation started. I am, on occasion, the one standing in front of a group as the speaker of the day--and I enjoy myself while I'm front and center.
But when all is said and done, I'm quite content to exit stage right (or left) and retire to the back of the room.
If there's one thing I've learned since stepping into the writing world, it's that you have to find some way to get comfortable interacting with other people.
You have to learn to network.
Networking. Does the thought of mingling with others make you want to walk into your office and close the door--but only after you've hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the handle?
You're not alone in your angst--but you've got to realize that developing relationships with other writers--and yes, editors and publishers--is not optional. Who you know truly does make a difference as you pursue your writing dreams. Someone you meet may be the very person that opens the door to a valuable critique of your work in progress (WIP). Or maybe they connect you with an agent who'll consider you for representation. Or maybe . . . just maybe they'll be that editor who says, "Send me your manuscript. I can't wait to read it!"
Yes, networking will benefit you in ways you never imagined.
But let me ask you a question: As you meet new people and develop friendships, who are you thinking about? You? Or them? Have you ever considered how you could encourage someone else--rather than thinking about what's in it for you when you do the whole "Hello, my name is" routine?
Networking is a two-way relationship--whether it be face to face at a conference or via Twitter and Facebook and blogs. Networking isn't a monologue. It's a dialogue between you and someone else. There should be equal parts talking and listening going on--equal parts give and take.
Networking is a lot more fun when I don't worry about what's in it for me. Instead, I like to stop and pray about who I might meet, who I might encourage. There's less stress when I'm talking with others about themselves and talking less about me. Besides, I know me. I want to find out other people's stories!
In Your Words: Do you enjoy networking? Have any tried and true methods for connecting with others? If I met you at a conference and asked, "How'd you become a writer?" how would you answer?