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Authors can get a bit insular sometimes – we shut ourselves away at the computer and create another masterpiece (or not, but at least we're writing!). Now we can network online and sell on the internet, there is no reason to leave the house at all.
But networking in person is actually still important for the following reasons:
- Meet new people. You will also be surprised by who you meet, and how connected everyone really is. You can build new relationships and even casual acquaintances can turn into contacts. Networking is not just about what other people can do for you. It turns into a reciprocal giving arrangement, where everyone deposits into the Favour Bank and then you can draw on it later. You are building a web of contacts that can help you in surprising ways, but you do have to be committed for the longer term. It is not about going along and being self-centred, but more about being open to possible opportunities that may come your way.
- Sell your books. At many networking events you can have a stall as well as have an advert in their magazine, or write an article. I am a member of Womens Network Australia, which is a brilliant organisation for networking. The picture above is the Christmas Party last week when I had a stall, and this year I have also sold books through the Network website as well as written an article for the magazine.
- Learn about new businesses and new ways of marketing. As you meet new people, you exchange business cards and talk about their work as well as yours. You should always follow people up with an email or phone call if you have a connection. Have a look at their website as well. You might find out more interesting things about their business, or ways you can help them. Many people want to write a book and they may be interested in your story, or how your book can help them.
- Build confidence in talking to new people. Networking encourages interaction with new people, and discourages only talking with people you know. You will need to join into other people’s conversations, roam the room and get through small talk quickly if you want to find out interesting things about people. This can quickly build confidence as everyone is in the same situation and generally people are very encouraging to new members.
- Be inspired. My network is full of women who are out there starting and expanding all kinds of businesses. It is amazing what some of them are doing, and inspirational to see what they are achieving. If you have a narrow view of what people can do to make money, then check out a (non-industry specific) networking group and be inspired!
So find yourself a networking group and go along. It doesn't have to be an author/writers networking group. In fact, I would recommend that it isn't as you need broader influences. Most have trial memberships so you can see if you are a good fit for the group.
Give it some time. I would recommend monthly for 6 months and then you will really start to connect with people. Remember to follow up with an email/ phone call or personalised note afterwards and build those relationships!