Let’s face it: if you’re a writer, you’re part of a notoriously introverted group. You know you’d rather spend your time putting words on a page rather than spend your time *gasp* networking! It makes you want to run and hide, right?
But here’s the thing: if you’re a writer, you are also a storyteller at heart.
And stories have to be told. So let’s focus on that. Your love of story. Not so scary, right?
As you know, a message needs a messenger.
You can write the greatest book ever, but you would like to have some readers, right? Of course, you would.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to spread your story to new people.
The First Step
It really helps to plan ahead and connect with people you naturally are drawn toward. Conferences are often the best way to network, so find one that interests you. If it’s in person, there may be a guest list. If it’s something online, there could be a guest list, or you may have to check a couple of websites.
You need to have a good answer to the obvious question you know you’re going to hear: “What do you write?”
Practice your pitch and make sure it is clear and compelling.
Don’t try to be salesy — just be sincere. Be a good listener and ask questions. In many cases, the conversation will come much easier than you think.
Don’t Go In Alone
About a year ago, I went to a social media mixer on a Friday afternoon. I only knew one person there. Guess where I went first? That’s right! I went right up to the person I knew who also happened to be speaking. This is super helpful because this individual then introduced me to some other people he knew. Boom! This kind of approach is very natural and feels unforced. Even if you don’t know a speaker, you can always use the buddy method and take a friend with you.
Play To Your Strengths
If you don’t mind talking to a group of people, consider doing a speech. There are actually quite a few introverted speakers out there. If you’re not sure about speaking to a large group, you could always do a workshop or breakout session. If you know you don’t want to do either of those, that’s fine too. There is no one way to network.
Be strategic about your mental and physical energy. Get your rest and eat well. This way you will be more energetic and engaged when you’re at the event.
Keep in mind that not all networking has to be at a large event.
You could always meet people one-on-one in real life. While this takes more time, you can likely form a stronger connection.
Come Up With Clever Ways to Network
Still not convinced? The whole idea of meeting other people in person still sounds a bit scary? That’s no problem. You can still do it! Podcasting is a fantastic way to reach out to new people and have a conversation with them. You can have your own podcast or even offer to be a guest on one. Both ways are fantastic. Even your blog offers you potential networking opportunities.
Do you feel limited by logistics? Another option is to ask others to join you for a “virtual coffee.” You can easily send a gift card to coffee via email. When you invite someone to join you, it is always helpful to have a specific time limit in mind for scheduling purposes. Be aware of the time and set a timer if need be.
Another strategy I’ve been using is to have an online summit. I’ve created an event called the Finish Your Book Summit where I am interviewing other writers via video and then for the summit I’ll be releasing the video. It’s been fantastic so far.
Best of all, it is not too different than having a podcast in some ways. To do something like this, you need a computer with a video camera, Skype, video recording software, and a website.
Yes, you still have to book the interviews and prepare for them but these are the same steps you’d have to take when doing a podcast.
Keep In Touch With Your Network
Whatever you do, you need to stay in touch with the people in your network. Relationships need nurturing. Send an email saying hello. Share your friend’s work on social media. Maybe you would like to send a book that you really enjoyed to a friend. It doesn’t have to be a book you’ve written either — but if you have a new release coming out, this is a great way to stay in touch. (I’d suggest adding a nice personal note.) I think this is a really great way to stay in touch.
Who doesn’t love a nice surprise? Think about it: you’re going to the mailbox sorting through bills and junk mail then you find that someone took the time to send you a book.
Whatever you do, take a small step to intentionally network today. Reach out to someone and say hello. Sign up to attend a conference. Contact another writer or business owner to meet for coffee. Reach out to a podcaster. You can absolutely become good at networking. Best of all, you can even form new relationships that can last a lifetime.