Yesterday I joined Brian Abernethy of Journey Frog Audio to do a Skype chat with Red Sofa Literary Agency. We discussed networking for authors and creatives. I cannot stress enough how important networking is to a writer's career. I thought I would post the outline of that chat here. This outline covers more than we were able to get to during the actual half-hour chat.
Typical disclaimer: These thoughts are not comprehensive and might not necessarily apply to all situations or people. Thoughts expressed are those of myself and Brian. Your mileage may vary. Terms and restrictions may apply. Not valid in Westeros.
Networking For Authors and other Creatives
Give Yourself Permission:
This might sound weird, but when talking about professional networking it can sometimes feel like you’re plotting how you can best use people to your advantages. You start worrying that you’re some Bond villain. No. You’re building a team of mutual support. (Mutual is the important part, we’ll get to that in a bit.) This is team-building, not Red Rover.
Also, you might immediately be thinking, “Well, what do I have to offer a team?” Plenty! You have skills. You have eyes. You have insight. You are worthy of being on the team. Now that that’s out of the way…
WHERE DO YOU NETWORK:
· Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, InstaGram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.)
· FB Groups
· Local writers/artists’ associations (eg RWA chapters, writers' groups)
· Bookstores and libraries often have workshops or group meetings.
So you’ve cornered some creatives in the wild…
HOW DO YOU NETWORK:
· Be genuine
· Follow the Golden Rule/Wheaton’s Law
· Buddy system. Take a friend for support.
· If at a con, find out where the other authors/creatives are hanging out and go there. The hotel bar is the best place to start.
· If you feel like you don’t belong, act like you do.
· Go to panels you’re not on to support other authors/creatives and learn things. Also, seeing repeating contact helps you stand out in someone’s memory after a whirlwind con.
· Business cards that are memorable. Find a way to connect YOU to the card. We all get so many cards and bookmarks it can be hard to remember who Vista Print template #23 was. So consider exchanging Twitter handles before parting ways, that way you’ve already connected on social media, and a picture is associated.
DOs AND DON’Ts
· DO think creatively when approaching other creative types. What can an author do for a band? What use does a recording engineer have for a graphic designer?
· DO think omnidirectionally. What can the parties do for each other?
· DO support other creatives in any way you can. Financially: buy their work, commission work from them, give to their Kickstarters or Patreon. If you can’t financially, spread the word, share their work/links, pimp them at every opportunity. Go to their signings, openings, release parties, panels, workshops to support them and fill seats. If you can’t, pimp the hell out of it.
· DON’T expect something for nothing. (And if you do, don’t be surprised if/when the other person turns down your totally enticing offer.)
· DON’T freak out. You belong. You’ve got this.
· DON’T be creepy.
· DON’T take it personally if someone can’t chat with you right that second. Cons and workshops are business time, and a lot of authors are introverts with crowd issues. If someone is coming across as too busy, it might be because they honestly are, or that they are overwhelmed. It’s not you. Try again at a quieter time.
· DON’T just leave pages on someone’s table. (Yes, this happened to me.)
· DON’T say hi to someone and immediately start going on about your book. It’s best to just talk to someone and get to know them a bit (and let them get to know you) without the sales pitch. Recommended: Don’t talk specifics about your book until asked. “I write urban fantasy” is different than going into your whole pitch.
· DON’T treat people like things.