In 2014 I took the leap and left my full time job for the life of a contractor. I’d thought about it for years but was apprehensive about the necessity to network and find jobs. Then I realized how much networking I do as a writer and it became less daunting a task.
The big difference between networking as a writer and networking as a contractor is the purpose of the connection. For many years I served as chairman of writers’ conferences, from local to national, and I looked to build a network of potential writers, editors and agents who would be willing to speak. It’s a great learning opportunity as well – you find people who are experts at the most unusual things that you can use for your writing. Guns. Antique dolls. Scuba diving. The mating rituals of the T-Rex. You never know what will be important or interesting or funny as hell.
It’s much harder to keep up with my writer network than it is with my business network. My business network all rests under one category. But how do you remember the person you met three years ago in-between workshops at a conference who knew about ghost hunting? I keep them in my email contact list under the topic of their expertise. It makes for a strange listing, let me tell you.
In my early years of attending conferences, I was hesitant to approach a published writer or editor or agent and ask for advice, but it was easier to approach from a business perspective. That let me build a relationship where I was eventually comfortable to ask about a story or submission. I also spent many years hosting a writer’s conference in Memphis and you get to know people very well when you take them to the Elvis mansion for a tour involving carpeted ceilings and pink a Cadillac early on a Sunday morning.
My point is find a point of commonality or a point of un-commonality. It’s much easier to spring into the conversation you really want to have if you build a foundation first.
Now go forth and network!