by Deanna Cabinian
I’m an introvert who hates forced social situations, but I’ve discovered some valuable networking strategies since my debut YA novel ONE NIGHT was released, though I didn’t realize I was networking at the time.
I think it helps to define networking here as connecting with someone who can and does help get your name and/or your work in front of more people. The audience can be large or small, but ideally the audience should be engaged. My top tips for networking:
1. Submit your polished work to online outlets in a professional manner.
This might sound obvious, but I’ve found even when it doesn’t result in a piece getting accepted it works in other ways. Oftentimes if I pitch a guest column or blog post that isn’t accepted, the editor refers me to someone else. For example, I pitched Chicago YA Writers a guest post about writing mentorships and they told me they were on hiatus, but referred me to an editor at YA Interrobang who accepted the piece. This has happened to me a few times. If you put your best foot (and work) forward you’ll likely get the name of a new connection even if the original place you pitched to rejects you.
2. If you’re going to write a blog post, be helpful.
I know I’m not the first person to have said this, but I’m here to tell you that it works. I wrote a post recently on my web site about how to avoid burnout and my struggle to balance my writing with everything else. I wrote it because I thought the tips I’d found useful might be helpful to someone else. I figured if it helped one person that would be great. I think that was the key—that my primary goal was I wanted to be helpful, to give someone who was in a similar situation some ideas. The goal wasn’t to increase my blog traffic, but in my effort to be helpful I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the link has been shared a few times and was mentioned on a podcast (along with my name).
3. Just talk to people (like they’re a regular person) without expecting anything in return.
There’s some networking advice that says you should always go to events with a goal of making two connections but I find just having a regular conversation with someone you think is interesting accomplishes a lot. I did a local author event in January and wound up sitting next to a YA author who had had traditional publishing deals but decided to start publishing independently. I asked questions, genuinely curious about her experience, and she told me about an annual luncheon with booksellers and librarians one state over and said she’d get me on the invite list. I didn’t even ask for anything, but she apparently enjoyed our conversation enough to offer something up.
4. Extend bigger thank yous to people who go the extra mile for you.
As a rule I always send email thank yous, but sometimes when a blogger does something unexpected for me or a reader passes along news about my books I send a handwritten thank you note or a signed book. This small act of showing gratitude pays off in the long run. I sent a signed book to one blogger who has been incredibly supportive of my work and when I later asked her for a favor related to my writing she responded and delivered on it the same day.
Over to you. What networking strategies have you found to be effective? Share your experience in the comments.
Deanna Cabinian is the author of ONE NIGHTandits sequelONE LOVE. When she isn’t working or writing she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and their Havanese dog, Cuba. She’s from the Midwest, but dreams of living by the ocean. Find her online at http://www.deannacabinian.com.
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