Network Like It’s Your Eighth Birthday Party
4th Jun 2018 in Writing
We all know that networking is vital to furthering your writing career: making contacts, giving a good impression, getting your business card into the right hands. We also know that networking can be scary – how can we come across as confident but not conceited, ambitious but not cut-throat? Well, I’ll tell you! When I was a little girl my mother had very particular rules for birthday parties, and these exact same rules can be applied to networking as a writer. By remembering what your mother taught you, you’ll be working that room in no time.
1. Don’t just talk to your friends
It’s easy to lurk in the corner and chat to your friends, but you could have stayed at home to do that. Get across the room and
introduce yourself to someone! An excellent conversation opener is ‘What are you working on?’ Not everyone wants to be defined by their day job, but everyone likes to talk about their plans and passions. Don’t monopolise anyone’s time – just introduce yourself, listen carefully to what they have to say, give them your card if it’s appropriate, and say it was great to meet them. Don’t forget to smile!
2. Don’t just talk to the popular kids
If you head straight for the biggest bigwig in the room and ignore everyone else, you’ll seem cynical and self-serving. Take time to chat to everyone, and show them the same amount of attention and interest. In a business sense, you never know who can help you in your career; in a personal sense, everyone has interesting things to say and you might make a new friend! This holds true for online networking too. If you get a nice email from a name you don’t recognise, don’t ever write them off as a ‘nobody’. Give them your time and your personality, just as you would if they were a hot-shot agent or editor.
3. Don’t be mean
So you think someone in the room is boring, silly, self-absorbed or a bad writer. Keep it to yourself! If you must, wait until you get home and vent to your partner or friends – but best of all, just work through those negative feelings until they’re gone. Don’t ever be bitchy about other people on the writing scene in public – you’ll develop a reputation and people won’t want to work with you. Stay polite and friendly in public at all times.
4. Send thankyou cards
You’ve made an effort to remember everyone’s names, right? Now get online and look them up. Google, Facebook, Twitter: they’ll be out there somewhere. Say hello, remind them who you are, mention something about their interests, and say it was nice to meet them. Don’t forget a link to your website in your signature so they can read about your achievements.
Pretend it’s your eighth birthday party, and get networking!