No matter where your passions lie, networking is necessary evil.
Don’t stress or panic!
It doesn’t have to be as scary as all that.
Sure, it might mean chatting with strangers and remembering to brush your hair, but it can be fun and memorable and present opportunities you never would have gotten if you’d stayed at home, headphones on, nose in book/video game/canvas/guitar case/garden, etc.
I’ll even share a secret with you.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to put on pants.
Okay, if you’re leaving the house to do this networking thing, please, put on some form of clothing. Not only will you avoid the chill, you’ll also avoid the criminal charges, and that’s just better for everyone.
BUT you don’t have to leave the house.
Social media is a wonderful thing.
It can be.
Just avoid the people who make you miserable.
But that’s an aside.
Point is, social media is full of people who share your interests and are looking to connect with like-minded people for support, advice, discussion, inside jokes that only fellow writers/musicians/gardeners/gamers will understand.
And really, that’s what networking is.
To go out and expect to meet people just for the sake of getting opportunities is not going to get you very far. Most people have an easy time sniffing out when they’re being used.
Proper networking is right there in the name. Network. Connection. Information going back and forth to create a complete data set. The wider the network, the more information, the clearer the picture.
Twitter, when done carefully and when well-curated, can be a fantastic source of networking. It can be easy to fall into the world of trolls or instigators, but if you’re paying attention to the people you follow, you should be able to only see what you want to see.
In my case, the recent hashtag #WritingCommunity has introduced me to a whole new circle of writers in various stages of their careers.
It has allowed me to find support and encouragement and to offer it in others.
My time on Twitter led me to one of my first circles of writer friends, many of whom I’m still in contact with today, 10 years later.
One of those people is the person who get me into indie publishing.
I’ve met people who have brought me into anthologies and boxsets, who have led me to writing forums that have helped me hone my craft and get inspired, who have become close friends, confidantes, and kindred spirits.
This weekend, I’m heading off to meet a few of these people in person, and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of getting the words written and talking shop with a whole cabin of people.
So try not to think of networking as a four-letter word.
Find your own way of reaching out and meeting people in your field.
You never know how your life will change for the better.