The Importance of Networking (Even When It’s Scary)

Something that came up a lot at the Sell More Books Show Summit 2019 was, INTROVERTS! You must network!!! In fact, I’m kicking myself for not starting a drinking game for how often someone referred to writers as “introverts” that weekend. And it’s true! Many of us are. (I am.)

When I first walked into the theater about a half hour early for dinner and podcast night, I found a handful of other early arrivals, but the place was mostly empty. I introduced myself to Jim Kukral (who had already said he wanted to meet everyone there, so that was a no-brainer), and then cemented myself to the only other woman in the room, my new friend Kinsley Burke.

Throughout the weekend, our group of two grew and fluctuated, and I ended up finding myself always in the company of friendly writers although I had arrived alone.

As an introvert (DRINK!), here are some examples of connections I’ve made throughout the years because of the dreaded word, networking:

  • Joining a small accountability group with writers I met at the Sell More Books Show Summit.
  • Meeting my favorite podcasters and them offering to send me professional editor recommendations.
  • Meeting writers in and outside of my genre who had more editor recommendations for me and were always willing and ready to brainstorm marketing ideas.
  • Day job related, but connecting with the one person who introduced me to his colleague who can hopefully solve a big problem for us at work. (Huge win there, if it pays off.)
  • Coordinating a fantasy box set with writers I had met at two different conferences (Hey Bekah, Tom, and David!).
  • Let’s not forget the time I had the undivided attention of a Hollywood producer and had no idea what to do with it. Be prepared, people!
  • And many more I’m probably forgetting.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s so not. But I am saying it’s worth it. This job, or any job, is a lot easier and more fun if we don’t have to do it alone. I usually set my goal low. Make one new connection, hand out one business card, and I’ve accomplished networking for that particular event.

At a writers’ conference, the easiest way to start is by asking, “What do you write?” And go from there. Even if you’re sitting alone, maybe just look around instead of looking down at your phone. There’s a good chance someone slightly more outgoing than you will approach you. Or, speak up and ask a question during a session. Then, someone may come up to you afterwards if they have something to add to that question.

Poof! You’ve networked.

So, what do you write? Or, if you don’t, what do you read?