Networking for Writers
by Debra Eckerling
Networking is an essential part of any business. And writing is a business! How can you expand your reach if you are not out and about meeting new people? Online communities are great. I am a huge fan of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. My writers website – Write On! Online – uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and BlogTalkRadio for building and promoting community.
The key, however, is to meet people in real life, expand your social network, and embrace new opportunities.
Places to Go:
“Performance Art” is what we call going into a coffeehouse and reading your script or manuscript, working on a laptop: doing some sort of writerly activity – it never fails to draw attention. Pick your favorite coffee house, hole-in-the-wall diner, out-of-the-house workspace, and go there regularly. You may see the same people on a frequent basis and strike up friendships and conversations. When I had a corporate day job, I would take my lunch hour a few times a week in the eating area outside the building next door. I would see the same people every day, have an occasional chat while eating and/or doing my writing, and have enough distance from my office that I could be productive.
Take a class, go to a lecture, learn something new. Granted, those of us in Los Angeles and New York have a lot more opportunities: The Writers Store in LA, Writers Guild of America, the Paley Center of New Media, and others have amazing events. Check your public library and/or local bookstore – Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Mom ‘n Pop Bookshop – for local author-signings, lectures, and workshops. You can even check the community college for extension courses; Sur La Table and other specialty stores have classes and demos. Look for activities that interest you: do some searching and see what is offered. You never know who you will meet or where it will lead you.
Networking Events, Meet Ups, and Mixers are filled with people actively looking to meet others. If you are outgoing, these situations are a piece of cake; for introverts, not so much. If this is not your cup of tea, that’s okay, All I can say is this: give it a shot. Stay 30 minutes or 3 hours. Big crowded events, where you are forced to in a room with total strangers may be overwhelming, but they can also result in the highest rewards. The secret to going to networking events is to be friendly and genuinely interested in what your peers have to say. The people you meet may not be able to help you, but they could know someone who needs what you have to offer. … Most importantly, remember to bring business cards and collect those of others.
Follow up and follow through. “Friend” your new “friends,” add them on Twitter, Facebook, and any other appropriate networking site. That way, you stay in their head, and vice versa. Opportunities for networking are everywhere: in the line at the grocery store, at your kid’s school, the hair salon. If you are open to meeting new people, the options are endless.
Debra Eckerling is the creator of Write On! Online, a website and community for writers. Debra, a communications specialist and writing coach, is one of the LA Party hosts for Mediabistro.com. The next Los Angeles Mediabistro Party is on Wednesday, April 27 in Santa Monica. For more information and to RSVP, go to: http://www.mediabistro.com/events/view_event.asp?id=16408