Four romance writers, a fantasy novelist and two children’s book authors walked into a guild meeting.
No, this isn’t the lead into a joke. But this could be the key to our success as writers.
On my way to a group critique session this morning, Sarah Werner shared her opinions on networking during an episode of her podcast Write Now. Her general take on the issue (paraphrased with Texas slang by yours truly):
Networking is darn near imperative for a productive career in writing.
I have to say I agree with her one hundred percent.
The word ‘networking’ leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths - conjuring images of guys with oily, slicked-back hair, wearing faux Armani suits, exchanging business cards and slaps on the back. Probably smoking like chimneys and in an 80's office building. At least that's how I picture them. Due to this, I’d like to offer up a new word for us to use: ‘netconnecting’.
Same concept, fresher approach. All the benefits, none of the hurt feelings or lung cancer.
Netconnecting is about meeting other people in your field of work, study, play or life but with a mindset toward making meaningful connections rather than strategizing about how to take advantage of them.
The session I attended this morning, for example, had more of a netconnecting feel than a networking slant. Most of the attendees came in hopes of receiving constructive feedback on their work and learning more about our chosen craft while sharing their opinions on the pieces written by others. The majority also hoped to spend time getting to know other writers personally. Fantastic! A win-win.
Note, I said “most”. Yes, sadly, there were a few selfish participants that showed up with self-serving focuses or a desire to tear others down for their own enjoyment. (I am speculating on their motives but with plausible evidence. Hopefully, they don't read my blog. Or if they do, they change their evil ways.)
Do you find these individuals in almost every guild, open mic reading, convention, workshop, etc.? Yes. Do they suck? Yes. Can you ignore them in order to focus more on positive vibes and productive netconnecting? YES! (Thank goodness.)
Here in Houston, writers are so lucky to be blessed with a plethora of opportunities for netconnecting. I’m a member of two writer’s communities – Writespace and The Woodlands Writers’ Guild, a few private critique groups and a couple of local open mic and storytelling organizations – The Moth and BooTown’s Grown-Up Storytime.
Whether these groups are right for you or not, there are tons of them available here in the Bayou City. Writers in other cities may not be as lucky. For this, I offer my condolences but also encourage you to start your own netconnecting fellowships, if none are to be found nearby.
So, you say your issue with networking or netconnecting is the whole introverted thing. No worries! Modern technology has you covered with podcasts, FB groups, blog columns and other such incredible online entities. Netconnecting without leaving your living room. No excuses now.
Another option, for the somewhat socially obscure members of our pack, is one-on-ones. Whether meeting in person over coffee (in my case, chai) or via Skype, your best netconnections might be made in smaller but just as powerful ways. If you decide to go big or go more intimate, just go. Get out there and start connecting with other writers!
Last note on this subject for the day, Sarah told a story on her podcast about Hemmingway, Ernest Hemmingway, and how his major literary successes didn’t come until after he had networked (or netconnected, if you will) with James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound in Paris. Coincidence? I think not.
When we come together to encourage, constructively critique, and share tips and tricks of our trade, we all win. Maybe not as big as Hemmingway but, in some way, we leave the experience having benefited.
So, my challenge for us all: Get to netconnecting and find (or, if necessary, form) your writing tribe today!
P.S. Just by reading this blog post, you've already opened Pandora's Box of netconnecting!?! Good for you! You're welcome. :-)
Links to my main writing guru posse guilds & organizations:
* Writespace – http://www.writespacehouston.org/
* The Woodlands Writers Guild –http://thewoodlandswritersguild.org/
* The Moth – https://themoth.org/events
* Grown-up Storytime – http://www.bootown.org/grown-up-storytime/
Netconnecting podcasts for writers that I recommend:
* Writership - http://www.writership.org/podcast/
* Write Now - http://www.sarahwerner.com/write-now-podcast/
* The Smarter Artist - https://sterlingandstone.net/podcast/smarter-artist/
* Helping Writers Become Artists - http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/podcasts/
* Beautiful Writers - https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beautiful-writers-podcast/id1047012231?mt=2
* The Book Editor Show - http://www.thebookeditorshow.com/
This pic is from a festival where I manned a netconnecting booth with fellow Writespacers & supporters, including these two lovely people - Holly & James Walrath.