Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Guest Post: To Do's and To Don'ts about Networking

Please welcome Dean C. Rich back to the blog today. He's come to share some thoughts on social networking and how following some simple guidelines can make the experience more enjoyable not only for yourself but others.

Writing is oxymoronic. It is an art and yet a business. An author writes alone, but has to work with others. The writer's subjects are what inspire him/her, yet the material must interest others.

Today I want to focus on the part of solitude while playing well with others.

The internet and social media allows writers to sit alone and literally have the world at their fingertips. Thus the world has shrunk. Gone are the days of anonymity. While writing is still somewhat a solitary venture, the writer still needs to connect with others if his or her words are to be read.

Connecting with others is networking. The word networking has taken on so much negative connotation. It almost seems selfish to connect with others to promote yourself. At least, that is what many take networking to mean. That may be true too. If so, that is one of the things not to do.

To Don'ts:

1- Don't Have an Alter Ego:
Folks think that being on line they are invisible. The "handle" or pseudonym gives a false impression of invisibility, or anonymity. Thus with the idea of no one knows who I am, gives them license to write whatever they want, because their identities are hidden. Understand this: no one is anonymous online.

2 - Don't be a Know-It-All:
I stumbled into Agent Query Connect. In the time I've been there I've seen folks show up thinking they had all the answers. These people spurned advice from members who offered some very sage advice, and these members knew what they were talking about. After awhile, no one would offer the newbie any advice.

3 - Don't Take on More than You Can Handle:
I enjoy the interactions I've had with my online friends. I want to help them, and I want to participate. However, to use an overused cliché, I bit off more than I could chew. I committed to doing things and then didn't deliver. I may have damaged some relationships because of that. I had good intentions, but being overwhelmed and not delivering didn't help the people I was trying to help. It also tarnished my reputation. I hope to make things right, but with relationships there are no guarantees.

4- Don't Lie:
This may seem obvious, but when sharing work with each other the idea to not hurt feelings may be very tempting. That is not helpful. Do not tell someone that their work is great when it is not.

5- Don't be Brutally Honest:
On the flip side, do not blatantly tell someone that their work sucks.

To Do's:
Be Willing to Share:
1- One of the first things I learned as I began networking online is this: If you want help, you must be willing to help. Everyone is busy. Beta reading - you read their work, they read yours. Critique partner? You help with theirs, they help with yours. So be willing to help others and you can get the help you want.

2 - Leave comments on people's blogs:
To network, your name has to be out there. To get your name out there, you have to be out there. Read blogs that interest you and if you like something, say so. To network you can not be shy.

3 - Find multiple outlets:
Blogging is great. Blogging circles are great. Add Twitter, find things on Google +, LinkedIn, and other online communities. I personally have found Agent Query Connect to be a fantastic place to get answers on writing, and the people I've met there are super fantastic.

4 - Learn the etiquette of each site you join:
Twitter has etiquette expectations, depending on the circles the account is in. Writers have a #WW which means Writer's Wednesday where you list the @ of the writers you follow. #FF is Follow Friday where you list those you follow who you like. When someone follows you, you should follow back.

Facebook is another way. Build an author page. I've chosen to use Facebook for my personal things and Twitter for my writing interests. Google + allows me to build circles.

A forum has its own set of rules. Read the FAQ and read posts and responses to learn what is and isn't acceptable.

4- Have fun:
If you are not enjoying things, you may want to rethink what you are doing. Having fun and enjoying the interaction makes it real. Just because there is a name and a picture on a computer screen, there is a real person on the other end.

5- Give back:
As you learn and grow, be willing to share what you've learned with those who follow.

6- Always be polite:
I think that says it all. There are feelings, hopes, and fears. We all have them. The golden rule works very well with all of this. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

Networking on the internet is about like networking in the real world. You are dealing with real people. What is neat about the internet is you can make friends all over the world. I've had a guest post on a blog whose author is in Africa. I've exchanged ideas with someone from England. I've been in chat rooms with folks from the east and west coasts and Canada. It has been a lot of fun getting to know these people and I am excited when someone I've made friends with gets a book published, or gets an agent, or completes a first draft. It's all good.

Thanks, Joyce, for having me over.

Thank you, Dean. Great thoughts. If anyone would like to add to Dean's list please do so in the comments.

More on Dean:
The Write Time (his blog)
Agent Query Connect


  1. Thanks for the insights, Dean. I agree, have fun and be real!

    1. I have a friend who has philosophy he lives by, if it isn't fun, why do it?

      He is always having a good time. I look forward to seeing what my online friends are doing. We create our own world don't we? Might as well make it fun while we are at it.

      Thanks for commenting.