Over the past week, I’ve interviewed these writers about their recommendations on how to network as an aspiring writing professional. Here’s what I’ve learned.
On April 5, 2011, at 8:00pm ET (5:00pm PT), we’re hosting our first Network Roulette for Word Nerds on Brazen Careerist. We’re highlighting a few wordsmiths in our community who have a sincere interest in networking with aspiring writers and expert writers alike.
Over the past week, I’ve interviewed these writers about their recommendations on how to network as an aspiring writing professional. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Say Hello! Established writers and industry professionals won’t know that you’re interested in communicating with them if you don’t explicitly tell them. Yes, I realize this is common logic, but as Leslie A. Joy puts it, “networking always starts with a hello, and so many people seem to forget that.” Suggestions on saying hello? Comment on a writer’s blog or send a personalized email their way. At an event, put down your wine glass, step up, and say hello!
2. Volunteer at Industry Trade Shows. Organizers of industry trade shows are generally swamped with work, and as Melissa Breau reports, “event organizers are often glad for the extra help and will put you to work.” Ask for “facing” jobs, where you’d be able to greet attendees, answer their questions about the event, or help them set up for their panel discussions. It’s a great way for you to involve yourself in the industry and meet top professionals in a highly professional setting. Furthermore, you’ll probably get to attend a few great discussions as well!
3. It’s Not About You. A true networker knows that the strongest conversation is one in which you learn how you can help your new connection. Linda Formichelli puts this concept simply, instructing aspiring writers to “give more than you take.” The more you focus on other people, the more successful you will be. As an added bonus, if you take a general interest in other people, you’re bound to learn along the way!
4. Keep Writing. Anything you write, anywhere, could be found by an editor or someone who could help get you your next gig. As Ty Unglebower recommends, “you must take every chance you have to expose your writing to the public.” Publish content on your blog, engage in discussion forums in writer’s communities, write letters to the editor. Get your writing into a public forum, because you never know who might be reading it. Remember that writing is a word-of-mouth business, and as Alisa Bowman says, “the more mouths you know, the more kind words are spoken about you.”
5. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up! Your aim is to impress every single person you meet, because you never know who will be able to help you down the road. As Clay Morgan notes, “as a writing professional, you always want to exceed expectations.” This starts during your initial conversation and becomes more important as the professional relationship builds. Have you asked for help lately? The Brazen Community loves helping aspiring professionals, but you know what really impresses us? When people thank us for our time, and follow up with the result of their request.
What other networking tips would you have for an aspiring writer? Join us on Tuesday, April 5 at 8:00pm ET (5:00pm PT) to network with me, and the rest of Brazen’s Word Nerds!