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Networking For The Introvert Part 2
If you’re a writer, the truth is you need a network or connections in the industry in which you intend to make a career. Networking isn’t a recent phenomenon either. From the dawn of time people have been networking and making helpful contacts in their chosen business. You may hate networking and avoid it like the plague, but this attitude could seriously be holding you back. Every great writer has needed to network in order to become successful.
Did you know that William Shakespeare was supported by Queen Elizabeth I, King James I, and various Earls. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were best friends and many of Michelangelo's masterpieces were funded by the Medici family. I can guarantee that their careers would never had been as successful if they hadn’t attended parties, dinners and other formal social gatherings.
So, who is in your network? Who do you know that can open influential doors for you? Who builds you up and inspires you to keep plodding away after the umpteenth rejection email/letter?
If your answer is that your network is zero and that you know nobody to offer advice or help, then I have to ask, ‘Who are you kidding?’
If you’re online, which you are right now reading this article, then your network is vast. You have at your fingertips every article, educational information on your chosen topic and the world's social media network. So you can start there and the good thing is you can start networking without leaving the sofa. So grab a coffee and spend the next hour planning how you can extend your network.
First step is to put your creative hat on (well, you’re a writer, aren’t you?).
You spend hours each week creating engaging and interesting characters. So, write a professional and engaging profile of yourself. To help you do this, ask yourself the following questions:
What do you want to achieve more than anything?
What stage in life are you at?
What are your redeeming qualities?
What are your flaws?
What do you daydream about?
Who is your motivation/inspiration?
Who is your hero/heroine?
Fold those traits into your profile. Those are the kinds of details that will make the right people sit up and take notice.
Let’s imagine you come across a fellow novelist on social media eg a Facebook group. You may admire her work and secretly envy her success. You want a piece of her life. Then why not message her, compliment her work. “I love your work, especially [project] because [specific reason why]. I watched it 3x in a row. I think you’re amazing.”
Then, after a few messages have been sent back and forth, you mention that you have written a novel and maybe she could pass it on to her friend, Mr X the publisher/literary agent. “I noticed that you worked with [so-and-so] last year. I’m a writer, too. Could you pass my script along to her?”
Or you could generously pass along information you have seen that maybe useful to her. A competition or article you have discovered.
Guess which type of message is going to make her sit up and go, “OMG! Awesome!” Probably the compliment or the opportunity—not the pleading request for a favour.
Here is the secret to successful networking. Don’t go in for the kill straight away, play the long game. Be everyone’s helpful friend, be attentive, be complimentary and be helpful and generous. That is how to influence people and make friends. That is how to build your network.
Get your work seen. If your work is good enough, it will be found but you have to get it seen. That means placing it on your blogs,getting free reviews for your books. Publish your work on Amazon and offer free books as a promotion. Make a list of every social media platform, there are so many out there, and reach out to likeminded people. The Internet is a stage that’s open 24/7 where you can showcase your skills every day. Show the world what you can do. Show off your comedic chops, your character-shaping skills, your ability to entice and entertain. Always be creating.
If Shakespeare had an Instagram account back in the day, you know he’d be posting “backstage Selfies” with his cast and crew at The Globe Theatre and little “teasers” to reveal lines from his soon-to-be-released plays.
If you keep sharing your work consistently and enthusiastically, sooner or later people will take notice—and want to connect with you.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Lesley Jones