The word "networking" sometimes freaks people out. They think it means not being yourself or acting in a way that gets you notices or doing things you wouldn't normally do while interacting with people. No. No. And, no. Networking, by definition, is very simple:
Networking (noun) is a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.See, that's not scary at all...is it?
In any business, it's important to get your name and face out there so that people know you're a serious player in your industry. This includes shaking hands, eye contact, active listening, being positive, having confidence, but most of all...being yourself.
When meeting people and networking...
- Everyone is not born an extrovert...and that’s okay, but you can learn to talk to strangers.
- Recognize the person within yourself...and bring your personality out when you meet people.
- Have the courage and self-confidence to go up to people, insert yourself into a conversation (but never rudely interrupt) and introduce yourself.
- When we start writing about characters, we think of their goals, motivations, conflicts wants and desires. Get to know yourself the same way. What makes you tick? Who are you? What makes you unique?
- Listen when introduced to someone. Be attentive and participate in the conversation.
Find common ground and similar interests.
- A smile and a laugh will go a long way to make a new friend.
- Be confident and offer a firm handshake. You’ll be remembered more for a weak one.
- Have one liners or topics you can easily toss out that will help include you in a conversation. Movies, books, TV shows, pop culture, food, wine, your kids, your family, your job, anything...all of these things that interest us that help craft our own soul and what makes us who we are.
- Non-verbal communication is almost more important that what we verbalize. Pay special attention to the way people say things with their eyes, facial expressions, hands and the way they stand.
- Don’t cross your legs away from people as you’ll appear closed off.
- Try not to slouch or hide behind people as it shows you’re hesitant to get into a conversation and transmits an “unapproachable” signal.
- As wonderful as it is to see old friends, try to make new ones. The best way to do this is to sit with people you don't know at meals. Ask them questions about themselves. You already know you have a common interest in writing.
When networking with agents and editors...
- Remember, agents and editrs are people, too, and you shouldn't be afraid to approach them in a professional manner.
- Always have good eye contact and speak confidently.
- Have an "elevator pitch" prepared for your manuscript to drop in at the appropriate moment. "My book is 300 meets Evan Almighty." (Just kidding, but you get the point.)
- Be sure to thank an editor or agent for their time and try not to monopolize them for too long. Leave them with a lasting positive impression.
- Watch for signs of disinterest: looking around, leaning back, arms folded in front. This means you don't have their attention or what you're pitching isn't right for them. Smile, thank them and move on.
- On the flip-side, watch for signs of interest: leaning forward, head bobbing, smiling, legs crossed toward you.
And, with any good networking opportunity, always remember the follow-up. E-mail new friends, send thank you notes to editors or agents you pitched to, send pictures to people you met. You never know who you'll meet, what new friends you'll make or what contacts might pan out for you down the road. Above all...be yourself. Let your true personality shine through and that will make for the best impression.
Did someone say contest? A contest? Why yes! I'm giving away a copy of THE BOYS NEXT DOOR, by the fabulous Jennifer Echols. The book just came out and it's A. Dor. A. Ble! If you'd like to win the copy of the book, just post a comment here in this thread, offering your best networking tip. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, July 9th.
Marley = )
Sorority Rush Begins - May 2008!
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