Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Third Step to Networking

Before we get to the third step in Successful Networking for writers, let’s review steps one and two. The first step was to Listen. I was reminded of this recently while I doing some volunteer work. A writer came up, introduced himself and talked about his book. During the “conversation,” he mentioned what a great listener he was, then proceeded to talk and talk over anyone who tried to get a word in edgewise.

By the time my shift was over and I gathered my stuff to leave, I knew quite a bit about him, his job over the last twenty years, etc. He knew nothing about me. He didn’t ask what I did. I doubt he even remembered my first name. He hadn’t “met” me. He’d failed in that second step of getting to know the other person.

If he’d “met” me and gotten to know me, he might have not only gained a reader, he might have learned something about me that he would need in the future. Maybe I’m knowledgeable in some area he’s researching for another book. Gaining a reader entails not just talking about yourself and your book, but getting to know that other person a little, whether you have two minutes with them or twenty.

But let’s say, you’re not like that guy I met. You listened, you connected. You enticed me to go look at your book. Maybe you even discovered something about me that you found interesting. This brings us to Step Three in Successful Networking:
Keep Track of Your Encounters

The guy in my example didn’t even bother to give me his card or ask for mine. When you’re networking, if possible, get the other person’s card. Make a note on the back of when and where you met and the things you want to remember about that person. If you can’t get a card, then note on a piece of paper or in a notebook his/her name and contact information along with what was said? Clearly, you won’t have time to do this for every person you meet or who stands in line to get your autograph, but you can do it for those you especially want to remember. If your “meet up” is online, and you think this person might help you or you might be able to help them in the future, make a note of that person’s name, URL, email, whatever you want to remember in the future.

Networking is more than just meeting people and listening to them. It's keeping track of all those encounters. All right, I admit, it can be a pain and time-consuming, but it could also pay off big in the future. You meet not only experts, but authors who might provide cover blurbs, other writers looking for critique partners, business people who might give you personal attention when it comes to printing your business cards because they know you, people who can give you the inside scoop on upcoming workshops or up-and-coming agents, and more. All these people are out there. You just have to meet them.

And that's the basic three steps to Successful Networking – Listen, Meet, Keep a Database. In other words, get away from your desk and computer, meet people, listen to them, maintain contact, and keep up with your database list.

Now, get out there and Network. It’s actually fun.


  1. Excellent advice...uh, what was your name again? Mermaid Hel?
    Seriously, I used to love going to metalcraft workshops when I designed jewelry but for some reason I became a hermit when I started to write.
    Networking - in person - can bolster the soul, connecting with people who truly understand what you're doing and fire the imagination.
    Now to get off my butt and go connect...

  2. I agree Laura. It can bolster your soul. It's too easy for me (and probably a lot of others) to become sheltered in our office at our desk. We work and work and suddenly the day's gone by.

  3. Helen I wish I would have read this a month ago. I've been gone from home first to Lagos for a workshop and then to London for the Caine things and I've met loads of people. I did listen, I did get business cards and give them mine but waht I didn't do is write on the back where I met the person and what we spoke about to remind me later. So important!! Now I fear sending follow-up emails when I've forgotten exactly what I want to follow-up. I met so many people I can't seem to keep them straight in my head. I'm hoping once my tiredness wears off my brain will help me out. Cross fingers for me and I will definitely take your advice next time. :))

  4. I like this series, Helen. I think I'm like Lauri. I'm fairly good at listening (well, I'm a therapist -we have to be) and I'm good at getting out and meeting people. I want to know their stories and am genuinely interested in others. But keeping track? Bad. I cannot remember where I've met people and I meet lots of people so...I wish we all wore name tags all the time. I love going to the grocery store because I can confidently call the clerks by name. Perhaps I'm a bit old. gaaaawd.
    Jan Morrison

  5. This is such good advice. I can think of numerous people I met early on when I was promoting my first book that I neglected to do this important step. A couple women from an Omaha book club said, "Let us know when your next book comes out." I said, "Ok!" And never even wrote down their names or anything!

  6. Keeping track of who you meet is key. Good tips!

  7. am really bad at collecting the info and notes on what talked about - always think if i do it later I will remember - duh - some lessons never learnt - I remember folk okay - not names tho just faces - so must take on board your lessons - thanks

  8. This is such fab advice, Helen. I've managed to do the first two fairly well, but keeping track. Even though I am a super-organized person and quite detail-oriented, I've never figured out a way to manage the business cards I receive and remember who was who. Thank you.

  9. Ouch, you touched a nerve, Helen ... my wife even tells me to get out of the house once in a while ... she says I'm stinking up the joint ... et tu?

  10. Lauri, I've had that happen, too. You get so busy, you forget.

    Jan, the older I get, the worse my memory. But I also think you have to practice jotting things down. I get so busy I forget to do that.

    Ouch, Karen. You just have to hope they kept watch on your website or blog.

    Alberta, if I'm at a conference, I try to make notes as soon as possible, even it's not until nighttime before I go to bed.

    You're welcome, Karen. And I'll see you tomorrow! Everyone, Karen will be posting here tomorrow. Yay!

    Nah, no wife to tell me that, Christopher. And I don't have to tell my husband. If he's not at work, he's outside doing something in the yard or garden.

  11. How can I recognize this as brilliantm, yet be so terrified. GADS--you mean I have to stay ORGANIZED! But I think this is probably incredibly wise. I keep thinking I should sort my blog followers and such... I really need to be more organized about getting to visit them... (I tend to stick with my sidebar and who comments... because it's easy) but that is the key to getting to know someone on line--go where THEY are talking...

    Okay... I promise to work on it. How's that?

  12. I just spent two weeks unplugged, and it's amazing how much a person's imagination kicks in again being offline. I suspect the human interactions, especially in a networking frame-of-mind, could also offer some very interesting "I can use this" moments for writers. Oh, yes!

  13. I've met some people like that. It's almost a game to sit back and see if they ever ask me anything about myself.

  14. Great blog on networking. I'm not sure that people like that even realize they are shutting other people out. Perhaps they don't care...


  15. I'm pretty good at listening, not so good at sharing. I really love the tip about writing a little about the person on their business card. I recently made time to talk to a park ranger and discovered a fascinating man who spends his annual leave volunteering in Bali and arranges for an optometrist to fit people there with donated spectacles for free. I surprised myself by asking him to write his name and address in my blog note book :)

    I hope that's the first step in remembering to get contact details again.

  16. I have stacks of business cards (and papers with emails & websites) that I've gathered over the years. I usually ask before offering mine, too.

  17. I'm very bad with asking or giving business cards. I'm afraid people will find me too "agressive".

    Chemical Fusion

  18. Hi Helen .. can quite believe that chap - I try that myself sometimes .. treating it like a game - to see if they'll ever ask me a question = usually no!

    So right and keep records etc .. or notes .. Evernote seems to be good for this .. one day I shall conquer all this techie stuff!

    Cheers .. Hilary

  19. What a great series, Helen! I'm bookmarking it. I hope I can refer readers to it sometime soon!



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