Networking is essential for anyone in business, and writers are no exception. In fact, it may be even more important to know how to network as a writer than it is for other industries because most writers write alone.
You may feel like you are working in a vacuum - or in an echo chamber - if you don't receive regular support and feedback from people you can trust. This kind of feedback is necessary for any person who is a creator.
The benefits of networking... for writers
In any business, networking helps you make mutually beneficial relationships and connections with people. These types of connections can lead to opportunities such as sales or partnerships. The benefits of participating in a freelance writer network include:
- Finding mentors and beta readers
- Learning about the business side of writing and publishing
- Staying up to date on trends in the genre or industry in which you write
- Developing a support system of fellow writers
- Learning about opportunities, such as writing contests or publication calls for submissions
- Gaining access to additional audiences for your work
- Sharing writing advice with other expert writers
- Collaborating with other writers on projects
- Selling your writing services to businesses or individuals
- Developing relationships with editors, publishers, and agents
- Learning about new markets and opportunities
- Connecting with potential collaborators
- Marketing yourself becomes much easier with input and connections from others
All of these benefits can help you become a better, more successful writer. In addition, networking can simply be enjoyable - it's a great way to meet new people who share your interests and help you get out from behind the computer.
Types of networking for writers
There are many different types of networking events, and the best type of event for you will depend on your goals. For example, if you're looking to make connections with editors or publishers, attending a book or author conference might be a good idea. If you want to connect with other writers, joining a local writers' group or attending a writing retreat could be a better option. If you want to boost your profile as a thought leader, be persistent about getting regular speaking and teaching opportunities.
Here are some other types of networking events that can be beneficial for writers:
- Attend a local, state, or national writers' conference
- Join a local writers' group
- Attend a book fair or literary festival
- Attend a writing retreat
- Go to readings and book signings
- Meet with other writers one-on-one
- Take a class or participate in an online workshop
- Use social media to connect with writers
- Join a powerful networking group for other creatives
How to network as a writer
Here are some tips for making the most of your networking opportunities:
Be prepared: Research the event or organization before you go. This will help you know what to expect and who might be there.
Dress appropriately: Depending on the event, you'll need to decide if it is more appropriate to dress professionally or more casually.
Have business cards ready: If you prefer the old-school paper business card, make sure you have plenty to exchange with people you meet. But it's also important to have a virtual business card you can send to people you meet, either via text or email.
Be friendly and approachable: Smile, make eye contact, and be open to talking to new people. When you meet someone, take the time to get to know them. Find out what they do and what their interests are. Ask about their work and their writing goals. Remember to show interest in the other person long before you attempt to tell anyone about what you're doing.
Listen more than you talk: When you're talking to someone, take the time to listen to what they're saying. Show interest in the other person and their work.
Don't be afraid to reach out to people: A lot of writers are introverts so actually having face-to-face conversations may feel a bit daunting. But if you're meeting other writers, they are probably just as introverted, so be willing to take the first step and introduce yourself.
Be genuine and authentic in your interactions: People can spot a fake a mile away, so don't try to be someone you're not.
Pay attention to what people are really looking for: Sometimes people are looking for feedback and advice and sometimes they are just looking to make connections. Pay attention to their body language and their tone of voice to ascertain what they may be looking for.
Following up after the event
Before you even attend an event, don't forget to have a follow-up plan that will be easy to implement afterward. Reach out to everyone you met by sending an email, connecting on social media, or even just dropping them a quick note in the mail. If you promised to send them something, make sure you do it. These follow-ups will help you continue to make a good first impression, make it easy to stay in touch and build valuable relationships.
You can maintain relationships with other writers by reading their work, sharing your work with them, meeting for mutual feedback, or participating in online discussions. By staying involved in the writing community, you'll be able to build a network of supportive and talented writers on whom you can rely for advice, feedback, and encouragement. Use networking events to open doors and help you achieve your goals.