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How To Build A Valuable Network
As discussed in an earlier article, networking is a great way to meet new people who share your passion for writing. They can be a source of inspiration and support when your creativity hits a brick wall. Here I look at ways you can prepare for a networking event and what steps you can take afterwards to build on the relationships formed, and gain a source of contacts that could be the key to your future success as a writer.
First, find an event in your area that you would like to attend. A simple Google search can help you find out what’s going on in your area. Remember, this is about meeting new people and not selling them anything. People will immediately know your agenda and avoid you like the plague. This is about building your social circle, nothing more. The key is to keep an open mind before you arrive and treat every encounter as a source of knowledge. Your aim is to build your network, one conversation at a time. You may pick up advice on building a blog or a website, or even gain insight into organising your own event for a book launch. Who knows?
Once you’ve figured out what events you’re going to be attending, you want to learn as much as you can about who’s in charge.What do they do? Do you have any shared interests? Are they involved in any other events? A good place to start is their website, and social media profiles. The organiser will have worked tirelessly to organise the event and appreciate the fact you have done your research. They will also know most people at the event and will be more than happy to introduce you to other attendees they believe would be suited to you.
Once you enter the event, maintain an approachable demeanour. It is likely that everyone is experiencing the same anxiety as you. Being relaxed, or giving the impression that you are, will be contagious to others and make them more comfortable talking to you. Take the initiative to strike up a few conversations or join group discussions instead of waiting for others to come to you. Introduce yourself or try a casual question to start things off: “How are you liking the event?” or “What do you do?” You can practice an introduction beforehand, but allow for a natural flow in the conversation.
Remember that people love to talk about themselves so be a good listener and ask them plenty of open questions. If you enjoyed their company and felt a connection, after the event you can contact them to have an informal catch up. Keep in contact via social media or email regularly, maybe sending them articles you have read that may interest them. Tell them why you enjoyed it and what you got out of reading it. Set yourself up as an interesting person and a source of knowledge that would be of benefit to them. Keep a diary to ensure you stay in touch with all your new contacts regularly. Finally, post interesting articles on your social media platforms that can be shared by others. Follow this process for every new event and soon you will have an invaluable network of friends.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Lesley Jones