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Whether you’re trying to find an editor for your book, or a producer to pitch your story to, sometimes it’s all about networking. If you still have 999 of the 1,000 business cards you ordered, you’re not getting out there enough. It’s time to step out from behind that computer and strike networking gold.
One of the first laws of networking is that you want to get to know the people you’re networking with. If you’re at a writer’s conference or networking luncheon, don’t just pass out business cards, take the time to get to know people. When you meet industry partners, jot down a few notes on the back of their business cards so you don’t lose this potentially valuable information.
When you’re building your network, be generous with your help and information. The people you’re networking with will remember and appreciate your generosity. Next, you’ll want to stay on their radar screen. If I don’t regularly dialog with a particular contact, I try to send them a note or set up a lunch at least once every six months (more when I can). When you’re staying in touch with people, let them know if you’re offering a new service or product and always remember to send thank you notes whenever you get a referral from them.
If your objective is to join some networking groups, remember that these are not all created equal. Some groups and events are better than others and some are just straight out time wasters. When you first start pursuing networking events, you’ll find that many are just “luncheons” meaning that a few entrepreneurs get together and hash out their difficulties/ideas/challenges over lunch. If this is what you’re after, great! But more than likely you’ll want to attend events that can sell your books, get you new business or a combination of both. Keep in mind also that some networking events cost money to join, weigh the benefits of membership before you plunk down some cash, the better organizations don’t always need to cost a lot, often you can find networking organizations that only charge a small fee at the door to cover room expenses, etc.
The next thing you’ll want to look at when attending a networking meeting is supply and demand. If you’re promoting your business and looking for leads, you probably won’t want to go to a meeting where there are a number of people doing the same thing you are. Unless it’s an association (which are great too) you’ll want to look for meetings that have a good balance in attendees.
The other obvious choice for writers is writer’s conferences. But much like networking meetings they are not all created equal. Once you determine that you want to attend a conference, start “shopping” for the right one to attend. You’ll need to find a conference that fits your writing needs right now. For example if you’re still in the throes of getting into the craft of writing, perhaps a writing retreat is more suited to your needs. If you’ve already written a book and are deciding what to do with it, then a more advanced conference will work better for you. In either case, peruse their Web sites carefully. Recommendations are great but remember: Attending the wrong conference can be a waste of your time and money. Spend both of these commodities wisely!
Whether you’re meeting a producer for coffee, attending a networking event or going to your first writer’s conference there are a few tips that you’ll want to keep in mind. First, whenever you collect business cards, take a few minutes to jot down some notes on the back before proceeding to your next prospect. You can note some of the discussion you had or what your follow up action might be. Next, you’ll want to follow up while the contact is still fresh. Especially if you’re at a writer’s conference or some other big event where there’s a lot of networking.
There’s nothing like networking to build your business or sell books, remember that much like marketing, networking is all about relationships. Building them, supporting them, and, ultimately, benefiting from them. Like anything, to be good at networking takes time and effort, but when done correctly, it’s worth all the work you put into it because you never know, networking gold today might mean a spot on Oprah tomorrow.