3 Ways to Build Meaningful Connections to Move Your Writing Career Forward

I believe the cornerstone of marketing today is a relationship built on trust.

authenticThat trust can be based on incredible customer focus, which explains why we buy from Amazon so much. But for personal brands like you and I as authors, it is based on connection with people on a personal level. Today, Monica Carter Tagore explains how to build those connections and I can tell you that this is exactly how I have built my platform over the last 4 years.

Social media encourages us to amass the largest followings, but building a smart writing business isn’t about collecting the most people. It’s about connecting with the most.

Connecting with contacts turns you from simply a name on a friends list or mailing list, to a relationship. And it’s the relationship that actually makes things happen. Relationships mean help requests get answered, favors get performed, and partnerships come together. And for authors, they mean promotional campaigns get built.

If you are a freelance writer, author, blogger, or other content producer, relationships can help you grow your business. Relationships multiply your efforts because they mean you can enlist the help and support of others who also want to see you succeed.

So how do you turn contacts into connections that become relationships?

(1) Be authentic

It’s tempting to try to hide who you really are in some vain attempt to pretend to be someone else or blend in so you don’t upset anyone. But hiding who you are doesn’t do much for making you stand out to your contacts, in the long run. Try this instead. Go for authenticity. Share who you really are in your social media updates, blog posts, and other marketing activities. This doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone about that embarrassing thing you did in grade school. But it does mean speaking in your voice when you communicate, and not in some watered down attempt at pretending to be someone else.

Your authenticity will resonate with your contacts and make them remember you. And those who truly identify with your message — what you are actually saying, the story you are telling, and the way you tell it — will connect with you. They will respond to your emails, retweet your posts, visit your blog. They will come back again and again. Looking for you.

And brings us to …

(2) Tell a story

What makes your writing business different from the next one?

It’s the story. What is your story? What’s the story of your business?

Examine your personal story and see how it can connect you to your audience. Did you come to this line of work because of a particular cause or experience? Do you write a certain type of book or about a certain issue because of something that happened in your past? Have you learned from a certain experience a lesson that can help others?

Telling your story may be about sharing your hopes, goals, and dreams in the context of your writing business. Sometimes this can be shared in the About page of your company’s website. Sometimes it can be shared in a blog post. Oftentimes, it is shared in a variety of ways — your blog posts, your speaking, your creative projects. Joanna tells a story with authenticity when she shares her hopes for the year. She tells us of her hope to land a book deal for her new crime fiction, get speaking engagements, as well as some other goals.

Make your writing business or book about more than the writing and the book. Make it about the story.

Tell a compelling story, and you’ll have clients and readers who identify with what you say, maybe because they have had a similar experience. Your shared experience will be the basis of your relationship. In some instances, that connection can be so strong that your readers will seek to become ambassadors or advocates for you, telling their friends, family, and contacts about you and your work because they identify so strongly.

(3) Help others before you need help

If you are a freelance writer looking to grow your writing business, or you are an author looking to grow your audience, then why not help others do the same? Are there writers in your community, on your friends list, or on your mailing list who need help?

If you see someone tweet a question and you have the answer, then reply with the answer. Or if you see another author on social media working to promote her work, then why not lend a hand? Retweet the link to your followers or share a post on Facebook.

Your generosity will likely be noticed. This author will see the way you’ve extended yourself to help and may drop you a thank you note or retweet. This exchange can be the beginning of a new relationship. I’ve become friends with authors that I’ve not actually met in person. All because one of us reached out to help the other.

Maybe you two decide to do cross promotion, where you each share with your readers news about the other. Or maybe you two decide to team up for some other effort that can help both of you — anything from producing an ebook together to splitting the cost to attend a conference to sharing industry contacts. When you turn a person from a contact into a connection, you open the possibility of a relationship as you two get more familiar with and trusting of each other.

Whether you have a large social media following or a small one, you can use these tips to build a more intimate connection with those who follow you, or those you follow. A few, deep connections that turn into relationships can help you grow your writing career.

Have you found connections have helped your writing career or book marketing? Please leave your comments below as this is an important topic.

monica tagoreMonica Carter Tagore has ghostwritten or authored more than 30 books. Her next book will be Connect and Conquer: Grow Your Business, Organization, and Career Through Online and Offline Relationships.

She helps freelancers, solopreneurs, organizations, and others turn contacts into connections for meaningful relationships that grow their businesses and organizations and create impact. Learn more about her at www.monicacartertagore.com. Or visit her business of writing blog at www.writersliving.com. Follow her on Twitter @monicatagore.

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Comments

    • says

      Thanks, Steve! … I just hopped on over to your blog and fell in love with what you are doing there. One of our favorite shows of the moment is House Hunters International, as we fancy the idea of picking up and moving to a foreign country for a few months at a time here and there when the kid gets a bit older. Your photos and some of the posts reminded me of this. Looks like you and Dana are having a great time, connecting with the local people through experiences.

  1. Steven says

    Hey Monica, I loved the post. I’m still working on the first draft of my novel and am not really sure how to build a list of contacts or what to do with it once I have it.

    • says

      Steven, thanks for the note.

      One idea may be to join Facebook groups or Google + communities related to the topic of your novel. Get to know the people there. Let them know you. Post interesting info (some about your book, some not).

      Another is to blog about the book’s topic, how the book is coming along, etc., Build a mailing list of people who are interested in what you are writing about by having a mailing list sign-up form on your website/blog. (Actually, everywhere you go, you want to build a mailing list. Always collect names and email addresses, but not just of everyone. Of those who are actually interested in what you have to say. And stay in touch. Staying in touch is where you build the connection.)

      And speak. Doesn’t have to be big crowds. Check out your local civic organizations. They always need speakers. Talk about something related to the book. If it’s a love story, talk about why we need more love in our communities and tell the audiences how each person can show love in his/her daily life and why that can make all of our lives better. Or if it’s a murder mystery, talk about the fact that the local murder rate has increased/dropped in the last so-and-so years and the reason for that is XXX, based on your research. Tell audience members what they can do to be safe, or why the local murder rate affects us all, whether we live in a “bad” area or not. Or if your novel is about …. well, you get the idea. Even though you’re writing a novel, you can turn that into a discussion of one of the topics you cover in the book, as a way to connect with your audience. These are just a few ways you can begin to build interest in and anticipation for your book, even before it comes out.

      All the best to you!

  2. says

    Monica, you are so right. I know this is where I need to put more energy. I make the assumption that everyone is busy, wants to read-and-run, and has little interest in knowing about my life beyond brief FB postings and infrequent blogs. (I’m also a firm believer that if you don’t have something ‘meaty’ to say, don’t say it.)

    • says

      sometimes it’s the little things that get attention – a beautiful picture that’s easy to share on Pinterest or FB can go a lot further than a long article

      • says

        So, so true. I have a Facebook page, Joyful Mourning, on which I often post pictures taken by my daughter on her travels. Usually I add a poignant quote to each. It’s these posts that get the most responses, proving your point exactly. Adding pictures to my blog posts is always a must too….especially as it’s primarily a travel/house sitting blog.

  3. says

    Ah, yes, Becky. I know exactly what you mean. And you are right, to some degree. Everyone is busy and has their own drama and whatnot. But even so, as busy as we are, we still find time to catch up with friends, watch our favorite shows, spend time just vegging out. The point is that people make time for what they want to make time for. So let them make time for you.

    They may not read your post immediately or even on the day you put it up. But that doesn’t mean they won’t read it. They’ll read it on lunch break, waiting in line at the grocery, riding in the passenger seat on the way to the beach.

    And to help them get in and get out, focus on short pieces. Give a brief status update. Write a short blog post. Talk about things that are going on with you that they can relate to because, well, they probably have those same issues, challenges, or experiences. Always make what you say relate to your reader and then they realize it’s not just about you, it’s about them, too. That’s how you connect your experiences to theirs.

    • says

      Thanks for this Monica. I also really liked the suggestion you made to Steven to find ways and places to speak. It’s something I’ve been toying with and now you’ve tipped me off my procrastinatory rock!

  4. says

    Joanna,
    I loved this post, and I find it’s true. I’ve made many wonderful connections via blogs and Facebook. I blog about subjects that I hope are of interest to other people, and comment on posts I find interesting and relevant. I think this is helping to sell my books. If not, I’m making new friends and enjoying new cyber relationships.

  5. says

    This is an excellent post Monica. It is so important to build relationships, but as you say , they need to be authentic. I like what you say about making your writing business or book about more than the writing and the book, and to make it about the story. I tend to cast aside my own history as being irrelevant, but now that we’re in the age of marketing our own work it’s essential. Thank you for the post. very enjoyable.

  6. says

    Monica — Thank you for this enlightening article. I am trying to increase my fan base through Facebook likes for my blog page called Mad Mom. (The link to my blog is on the page.) Right now I have just over half as many FB likes as FB friends. I find that when I really hustle — send personal messages to people asking them to support me — I get results. Then there is a lull. Then I need to expend the time and energy again. One time someone from my town suggested I speak to the American Legion about my blog and unpublished book of the same name (about choosing to and being a single mother by choice of two young sons without a support network). I have not taken him up on the offer thus far, out of shyness about the highly personal subject matter in front of a roomful of men. I have also had the offer to be profiled on local cable TV but have not yet taken the producer up on that either. I feel comfortable talking about my projects in some circles, but I live in a very small traditionally conservative town so I feel uncomfortable talking about them in others. I know I must get over this feeling and just spread my message as far and wide as I can, but it’s like coming out as a gay person in the sense that we are the only people in our town of this family type and I sense judgment and have experienced prejudice. I also need to think about my young sons. It’s a double-edged sword. I recently feel I committed a no-no when I called someone in public on FB for joking about wanting to be Pope shortly after professing that he was tired of the Pope resignation news coverage. This was a successful writer who started following me. I don’t know this person and perhaps could have built a relationship with him, but I’m sure I turned him off instead. I felt like I’d blown it shortly after writing my comment. Your article confirms that belief for me. I guess I can’t stand to witness hypocrisy!

  7. says

    The beautiful thing about living in this time, Shelby, is that you have lots of options when it comes to places where you can connect with others and engage. If the local television interview makes you nervous, you can do the speaking thing. If speaking in front of a bunch of men makes you uncomfortable as you said in your comment, then maybe you can find another audience to speak to — a women’s retreat at a local church, maybe, or at a local book club meeting. I think sometimes it’s good for us to stretch ourselves just a bit, because it’s when we stretch that we grow. But if the very idea of stretching makes you that nervous, then first tackle something more comfortable, and then as you gain confidence/experience, stretch a bit more. If you’ve found the comfortable place for you is Facebook, then work Facebook!

    You’ve put so much time into your blog and your book, that I’m sure you have a message there. And chances are, others need to hear it. So consider the best ways (for you) to reach out to others and connect with them. Then grow from there.

  8. says

    At last I’ve found a true and meaningful post on this matter. As a blogger and an aspiring writer, I do my best to be honest to my readers, to share what I know and love, and it’s true indeed that in this way I built up relationships with my readers. I’m not into book marketing and book selling and all yet, but these relationships have helped me in other ways, like coming to terms with myself and building self-confidence.

  9. says

    Isn’t it true that the simplest things can have the biggest impact? Just like you said, being “real” is important when you connect with your readers, and you have to connect with your readers if you are going to be a successful author. I tell writers that just because you had a book signing and only sold one book, don’t think that all those people you smiled at and talked to won’t remember you – they will! Sometimes a chance connection will lead down the road, to the big one!

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