I frequently talk about networking on this blog. I believe it’s just as vital to success as the craft of writing (skill) and talent.
Many people view networking as something you do. Okay, language purists, networking is a verb and therefore, an action, literally speaking. But it’s not an action with a definitive start and end point, like washing the dishes. You shouldn’t put it on your to-do list and set aside time to complete it. (It’s actually a lot more fun than washing dishes, and not a chore to dread).
I’m reminded of a cartoon in which a writer is walking around his office with a coffee cup. A colleague asks him what he’s doing and he replies, “Writing.” Networking is just like that. You can – and should – do it anytime, any place. If you’re doing it well, people won’t even realize you’re doing it.
For me, networking is what I do when I’m procrastinating writing. It helps me justify – to some degree – the time I spend on Twitter and Facebook. But I understand not everyone feels that way. The good news is, you have opportunities to network all around you.
- When you read blogs and leave an insightful comment because the writer impressed you -- that's networking.
- When you go to a party, with some friends you know and some people you don't, introduce yourself and tell them what you do -- that's a first step toward networking. Ideally, you’ll build on this to create relationships with some of the people you meet.
- When you IM or call an acquaintance, not someone you speak to every day, and ask what they're up to, that's networking. (Some pros call this "pinging" people.)
- I went to a comedy club Friday night with a friend I hadn't seen in months. Not only did I introduce myself to the people at the table behind us, I'm writing about the comedian and I found out my friend wants to start a home business... you guessed it – I was networking (and drinking wine -- what could be better?)
Most importantly, networking should take place wherever you are, at any time -- ALL THE TIME, even.
I'm not saying to be shmoozy or sleazy or always looking out for your interests. In fact, networking really is just taking a GENUINE INTEREST IN OTHER PEOPLE AND THINKING OF WAYS YOU CAN HELP EACH OTHER.
Probably the only time a successful writer shouldn't be networking is when they're actually *writing*. And both are equally important to success. Do you agree?