If you’re like many writers, your internal thesaurus pairs the word “networking” with “torture.” However, you’re savvy enough to realize networking is essential for building a reputation among the writing community. So you promise yourself that you’ll start a networking plan. Tomorrow.
With the following list of virtually painless networking tools, you’ll learn that effective networking can be done from the safety of your desk!
Blog comments – If you don’t already have an online personalized page like My Yahoo! or My MSN, you might consider using one to monitor your favorite blog sites. With these tools, you can monitor daily blog topics with one webpage. Comment regularly, at least once a week, on two to three popular blogs. Be sure to add constructive comments to the discussion and sign your post with a name rather than “anonymous.”
Online RWA groups – Some of us don’t have the luxury of living within a local RWA chapter area. However, several RWA chapters operate almost solely online. To find a suitable group, check the list of Special Interest Chapters on the RWA website . You must be logged in as an RWA member to access the chapter list. Once you join an online chapter, volunteer to help with a contest, the website or some other project. However, only take on responsibilities you can comfortably handle. Broken promises do not make for good networking.
Introductions – If you join a new online group or class and you’re asked to introduce yourself, take advantage of the opportunity. Within your introduction, use a small detail that will help people remember you. For example, I’m an American living in Qatar, which normally helps people remember me. Your defining detail might be your day job, your location, your pets or some other interesting tidbit. Note: Some lists expressly ask that you not provide an introduction. Please abide by each list’s rules.
Contest thank you notes – When you receive contest score sheets, write a personalized thank you note to each judge, even if you didn’t final. Although some judges choose not to reveal their names, you can forward emails to the contest coordinator based on the judge’s identifying information. In your note, include a reference to the judge’s specific feedback on or praise for your work.
Contest finals – Watch the Romance Writer’s Report (RWR) or a blog like Contest Divas (contestdivas.blogspot.com) for chapter contests’ finalists. Send finalists you know a note of congratulations. Who doesn’t appreciate an acknowledgement of their achievement?
Signature lines – Even if you’re pre-published, signature lines can be useful. List your website, blog or perhaps your last contest final. Note: Some online lists have rules about the acceptable number of signature lines.
Post conference follow-ups – What do you do with the pile of business cards you picked up during conference luncheons or workshops? Take a few minutes when you return home from a conference to write a nice-to-meet-you email. Remind the person of the circumstances under which you met and mention a detail about your conversation. Those details are often a challenge to remember after days of fun and too many glasses of wine so use the back of each business card to jot down a reminder note. When I emailed a tablemate after National in San Francisco, she noticed my contest final in my signature line and introduced me to her friend, a finalist in the same chapter contest. That friend tuned out to be none other than Adrienne Giordano. Adrienne then introduced me to her friend, Tracey Devlyn. The combination of my email signature line and a post conference follow-up netted me two fabulous CPs and the opportunity to launch Romance University!
Now that you know how to become a first-rate networker while wearing your PJs and slippers, you have no excuse for putting off until tomorrow what you can do today.
RU crew, what do you find particularly painful about networking? What help could you use in making your networking efforts more successful?
Kelsey Browning is a Romance University founder and faculty member. She writes contemporary and paranormal romance with a hint of southern sizzle. In her former life, she worked at one of the ten largest universities in the U.S., raising money and teaching students how to land their dream jobs. These days she pursues her dream job of freelance and fiction writing, which provides excellent benefits such as unlimited coffee and an office dress code that permits flip flops. Originally from Texas, she now lives in the Middle East with her husband, son and seriously spoiled dog. She’s currently at work on the first book in a new series. For more information, please visit www.KelseyBrowning.com.
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