Networking Means Following Up

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I attended two important events this past weekend, the National Science Teacher’s Association and a writing retreat. One goal was to network, to meet people who might be interested in my career, meet people who might have common goals for connecting kids with books, and to get a wider sense of the publishing industry. In other words, I wasn’t out just for what I could get from others, but I was interested in connecting with people who share a wider concern that kids need a wide range of books, especially those featuring science and nature.

At the NSTA, I met editors, writers, educators and scientists. At the writing retreat, I met writers, agents and editors. Great. It was fun to get out of my writing cave and meet-and-greet. I found common ground with various folks on various issues. Some people rose to the top of my consciousness and I truly hope we meet again.

And while I was at it, some projects were mentioned: future retreats, proposals for future books, and possible participation in an academic book where I might contribute a chapter. Along the way, I made an emotional investment in the success of others’ projects.

Weekend ends. I come home.
Now what?

I collected business cards from various people and have things to follow up on. In some ways, this is the most important part of the networking, what you DO with the connections when you get home.

  • I uploaded photos to a Facebook album.
  • I did a blog post, "6 Reasons to Attend a National Convention".
  • I sent photos to several people--I love taking photos and offering to email them later. It's a great way to connect.
  • I emailed a couple dozen people, just an encouraging note.
  • I read an author’s book and sent fan mail—and posted an Amazon review.
  • I used information and feedback to make a couple small, but important changes in my own projects, changing a title and slanting a pitch a different way.
  • With another writer, we proposed a session for next year’s NSTA conference.
  • With another writer, we are working on proposals for other retreats.
  • I submitted a manuscript.
  • I am starting to work on another project that I pitched and the editor wants to see; this meant coordinating with the illustrator/photographer, so we’ve already met and discussed various issues.

At the Sea World booth, they kept bringing in live animals. One publisher's rep asked me to end her this penguin photo to give to her daughter. One great way to connect with folks is to offer to send them a photo later--and then make sure you follow-up and really send it

Follow-up. It’s important.
It starts with the conversations that you have. But you also need to take business cards and collect business cards. Write notes on the back, if needed, to remember what actions you are supposed to take. Remember that it’s not just about you and your needs—it’s about the community. So take note of what someone else needs or wants and see if you can meet that need in some way. And don’t hesitate to nudge those you met for something that you need—it’s a two-way street.

What you can’t do is come home and collapse and do nothing.
You must follow-up.

I ended almost all my follow-up emails with this comment: "Send me your good news!"
Because it's not just about me--it's about the community.


Darcy Pattison blogs about how-to-write at Fiction Notes and blogs about education at Follow Darcy on Pinterest.


Marcia Peterson said...

The examples of how to follow up after are really helpful. Thanks Darcy!

Margo Dill said...

Oh Darcy, you make me want to go back and relive some of the months AFTER I've come home from a conference and did nothing. :) I love the idea of business cards with notes on the back. I'm going to a conference at the end of the month and I am going to do that. I also have pitched a workshop idea at a state library convention and need to do more of that. Would love to see a blog post or article from you on tips for that! :)

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