I know a handful of writers who believe that networking is a dirty word. I get it. Most of us are introverts who would prefer not to engage with anyone beyond our keyboards or our writers groups. If there’s an agent or a rep in the mix – many of us steer clear of them, too – unless we want something or they do. And those who are game for networking are often stymied by the idea of making small talk at networking events. Yes, it can be awkward to start conversations or smile through boring ones – trying to come up with witty things to say.
But there’s another way.
Before I get to that, I want to underscore why networking is important. It goes back to my homeless theory. In any industry – meeting someone cold – without anyone to connect you or vouch for you – is akin to being a homeless person asking for money. [I’m not discouraging donations to the homeless, by the way, I’m just giving you an analogy.] There’s no reason for a deep or trusted connection with a stranger. So the likelihood of you making a connection without some help is slim. Everyone (you included) appreciates some kind of introduction – some kind of bridge to a first (or second meeting). Networking can be that bridge – if you’re connecting with someone you know peripherally – or it can solidify your relationship to someone who might make that bridge for you down the line. A writer’s success in any indusrty is rarely only about what’s on the page. It’s also about relationships. Networking is a way to enhance that. I’ve got a host of stories to illustrate this. Maybe you have a few, too.
So what’s the easy networking tip?
Sending holiday cards.
In this instance it doesn’t matter what you believe about the holidays. This is not a suggestion that revolves around religion. What it does focus on is the opportunity to wish someone well – preferably in a card – (e-cards are good, hard copy cards are better). Your card may speak of Christmas, or the holidays in general, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or the Winter Solstice. It could be a Happy New Year wish. In any case, if there was ever a ready-made moment to give someone a shout out this is it.
Use the text inside your card to cheer someone on and to remind them of who you are and what you’ve been up to. No need to go on and on – short and sweet will do. Just send something and say hi. It will be appreciated. (Bonus points for adding a small gift to your note if that seems appropriate. Bonus Bonus points for keeping a list of who you reached out to and what you gave them – it may help you when it comes time to do it again next year.)
Sure beats standing around navigating a boring conversation over egg nog. You get to write (which is what you do) from the comfort of your own home (or any other favorite place). Easy.
So get on it (if you haven’t already).
And Happy Holidays!