Mom's Networking Rules

Saturday, May 15, 2010
Networking. It’s a scary word. It brings to mind wandering around a room filled with strangers who are a lot more successful than you exchanging business cards and trying to remember their names. I’m not good at that sort of thing. Which is why I never networked. Or so I thought.

In the past few months I’ve been reaping the benefits of expanding my “network” even though I haven’t been in one room filled with strangers. Turns out I learned the basics of networking from my mom, an elementary school teacher, when I was five. And I can boil it down to two words: Be nice.

That’s it.

Be nice to people and sometimes it comes back to you in a good way. Of course sometimes you never hear from that person again but hey, did it kill you to be nice to them for 5, 10, 20 minutes? I’m sure your mom also taught you the “be nice” rules but here’s a refresher:

1.Chat -- Yes, work in that you’re a writer but don’t make this a 15 minutes monologue on the type of writing you do. Also talk about their job, where you were on vacation, regular stuff.

2.Compliment -- Not “You are the greatest writer ever!” Dial it back a bit, only say it if you really mean it and remember, it doesn’t always have to be about writing. You can compliment their onion dip.

3.Gossip -- As in, don’t. The anonymous world of the Internet has loosened all our inner censors a bit. But I lived in a small town(and the world of publishing is a small town) so live by my mom’s words, “You never know who people are related to.” The people you meet might not share grandparents but they might share a book, an old boss, or a favorite lunch spot.

4.Help -- Don’t just help when the voice in the back of your head says, “Someday this person could really help me.” Help people to be nice. In the immediate world it makes you(and them)happy. Focus on that. Help doesn’t have to be big. They don’t expect you to find them an agent. Link to a good blog, pass on a good market to a fellow writer, stuff some envelopes for your local writer’s conference.

5.Don’t Just be Nice to the Popular Kids -- Or the “kids” that have published books. It’s tempting to focus your nice campaign on the people with more successful careers than you but being nice has many paybacks. Sometimes you just make a new friend to support you as you struggle to be one of those “popular kids”. Remember the high school cliques? Don’t allow yourself to fall into that either. Don’t surround yourself with YA writers if you write YA. Sometimes a paranormal or romance writer can offer a fresh perspective.

6.Remember It Isn’t Always About You -- Or in this case, writing. You can be nice to someone totally unrelated to the writing world in a totally un-writing way and find a few months down the road that they’ve recommended you for a writing job. They remembered you because you were nice.

So listen to what your mom told you. It’s a totally painless way for even the shyest writer to network. Sometimes nice guys(and gals)finish first!


Lisa said...

Excellent advice! It's a good feeling, to both give and receive nice! Thx Jodi!

Williams said...

This is some good advice. I'm a digital artist and content writer and I went to one networking event and was SO scary. Of course, I didn't know anyone there! The best advice I would give anyone is to bring someone you know at least 1-2 people you know so it won't be so awkard. A lot of the times, the people thhere feel the same way as you, so its all about taking a deep breath and just going for it.
(content writing service),


LuAnn Schindler said...

Wonderful advice, Jodi. And I'm going to add something that my mom always used to say to me. "What goes around, comes around." If you're nice, people will remember and treat you the same way. Do something not so nice and people will always remember.

Café Lopez said...

Great advice - exploring the blogosphere is very much like networking, and thus far, everyone seems to keep this rule close to their heart. Who knew there we so many positive/supportive people out there?

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