They listed this as “relationship building” or some such and I think most of us thought this would be a forum on character relationship building. Not so.
But not disappointing either. One of the foibles of many writers (and I’ve been guilty of this too) is our lack of interest or ability in forming professional relationships. Some of us can barely stomach the thought that people are reading our precious stories, let alone talk to those people after they’ve done it.
Being around the BFF has made me more of an outgoing person, because I was able to watch her seemingly flawless skill at connecting with people. She’s been in sales for years. Couple that with her natural love of people, and boom, her skills dominate.
Last year and this year too while attending the Writing for Charity conference I noticed the majority of writers I met seemed about 0% interested in networking. When I asked them what their story was about, they transformed into the wary cat, guarding the precious food it just found. That or they gave me that look, the what do you want look. That’s not all of them, but it was a lot of them.
If you can’t see the point of networking and connecting with other authors, then I’m sure this question has crossed your mind: What can other authors do for me? It’s not like they’ve got an agent either.
True, some may not. But you’re approaching the point with completely the wrong attitude. Networking and building professional relationships isn’t about what that person can do for you, but what you can do for them.
Let’s start with a quote from the forum:
Every opportunity has its root in a relationship.
Remember that phrase it’s not what you know but who you know. Although what you know is important and will take you far, who you know is equally as important. You’re probably still wondering how getting to know other aspiring authors is going to get you published.
Stop it. Stop that approach. Focus instead on what you can do for them. For me, in the beginning, it was that I knew networking and building relationships would at the very least bring me into the circle of my peers and keep my motivation running. But while networking, I met a friend who introduced me to all kinds of things I hadn’t know about Twitter. Hashtags like #myWANA #Row80 and #wordmongering now entered my hemisphere, all because I was willing to open my mouth and say hello.
I also tried to be his motivator and he was mine, and we checked in with each other on our progress. Friendship. Karma. If you give help freely, help will be given freely to you. I always learn something new from networking.
OKAY, SO HOW DO I NETWORK?
Wise words from the forum:
Think marathon rather than sprint. Build a network.
Be in it for the long haul. Blogging helps keep you connected with your community. And your community very much helps keep you connected with your goals—if you’ll let it.
If you are likable then you are innocent. The presenter said a judge challenged her on that and she said, “Oh really, how many people have you sent to jail that you’ve liked?” He thought for a moment and said, “None.”
If you’re liked, you are innocent. How is that helpful? Well that means people will stand up for you, vouch for you, believe you, and want to help you succeed.
She said with first impressions 55% first image comes from face & body; 38% sound of voice, 7% actual words. So, if you’re really trying to market yourself, how are you presenting yourself to the world? What does the way you dress communicate about you? Your appearance? Your blog? Etc.
A year from now, how do you want to be remembered? The presenter went to Marine Biology Camp one year as a teen. She was a nervous know-it-all and at the end of camp someone had written a poem where the famed line was “because I’m right” something she’d said extremely often. People laughed. Even years after the event had happened, people still remembered that obnoxious know-it-all, even though that wasn’t her intention.
Her other example: the Pirate Jacket. She and her friend were meeting an agent whom they discovered loved garage sales. The agent was from the east coast in an area where they don’t have them so often and she was thrilled by the idea of shopping at a garage sale. So she and her friend went to a garage sale and found her this pirate jacket, then gave it to her, and she loved it. Now the agent remembers the nice girls from Utah who were so thoughtful and gave her something she loved. Decide how you’re going to be remembered.
How to earn trust in 30 seconds or less:
- Make eye contact
- Be genuine
- Be competent
- Look trustworthy (dress the part)
- Remove the walls
Don’t tell me everything you know. Tell me what I want to know. Be helpful, just because. The pirate jacket is a just because moment.
And last of all, she presented the friendship scale. Think of the people in your life. Where would you place them on the friendship scale? Where are you on the friendship scale?
Freak – don’t like you
Fan – like you
Friend – like you and remember you
Fave five – like you, know you, and trust you
Okay, well that does it for notes from the Writing for Charity conference. I hope you’ve been able to find lots of useful tidbits to take to your own writing. More notes to come from the Storymakers conference I attended last weekend.
Do you think it’s important to build professional relationships? How has networking helped you already? How do you approach networking? Did your geek-o-meter explode when you saw Batman and Robin doing the Death Star run?