By Jori Hamilton
For many writers, the goal is to be recognized as a professional. But, whether it’s a creative writer, scriptwriter, poet, journalist, fiction writer, novelist, or another type, moving forward with a career in professional writing requires a long-term commitment and willingness to do things that help you grow.
It’s important to note that how you establish yourself as a freelancer or independent writer will be unique to you. But there are many things you can do to grow your professional writing career. One of the most important is developing solid relationships with people in your industry.
Learning to network can be powerful in building a solid reputation as a professional writer. And it’s best to take advantage. So, here’s a concise professional writer’s guide to networking that will get you on track to building solid relationships that will propel you forward in the industry.
Polish Your Interpersonal Skills
How successful your networking efforts are depends on the strength of your interpersonal skills. They make interaction and communication with others a lot smoother. And that has obvious benefits in networking. Things like active listening, presentation skills, nonverbal communication, conversational skills, and recognizing boundaries are vital to getting others to open up to you.
So, work on developing the crucial interpersonal skills above and intercultural communication as well. Intercultural communication is defined as “a process that creates a shared experience between individuals from different cultures, backgrounds, and languages.” It can be instrumental when networking because you’ll meet people from various cultural backgrounds. And you need to be able to interact with them respectfully and allow your differences to connect you.
All in all, sharpening your interpersonal skills will encourage you to get out there and network with confidence. So, once you’re comfortable with your interpersonal skills, dive into networking by starting with social media.
Start With Social Media
Millions of people use social media every day. And a considerable pool of those users are writers and other writing industry professionals. So, take advantage of the reach you have on social media to meet new people.
Start by joining groups related to professional writing on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Take your time getting to know the other members in the group and start contributing once you feel comfortable. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to people directly and start a conversation about why you felt compelled to contact them.
Additionally, part of transitioning from writing being a hobby to writing being a professional career is in the way you market yourself. So, it’s essential to present yourself well on your social media pages. When you connect with other writing professionals on these platforms, you want to ensure your content and page layout reflect how serious you are about writing. And how serious you are about developing a solid professional writing network.
Furthermore, it’s easy to keep your networking efforts in the online realm because of accessibility and comfortability. But to take full advantage of networking, it’s best to connect with people offline also.
Work Toward In-Person Networking
Many writers are naturally introverted, meaning they’re quiet, reserved, and thoughtful. Additionally, they’re usually homebodies who would choose a night in with pen and paper over a night out on most days. So, that’s why starting with social media and other forms of online networking are more comfortable. But you must work toward participating in in-person networking.
You may not be able to jump right into a national writers conference, but you can start small when it comes to in-person networking. For instance, meet up with a few fellow writer friends at a local coffee shop to bounce ideas off of them for a new novel. You could attend a new author’s reading. Or you could join a local writers group.
As you get more comfortable with online and in-person networking, explore hosting networking events yourself to connect with other writers and professionals in the industry. For example, lead a book club, start a feedback group, or host your own webinar.
Furthermore, however you decide to network and put yourself out there as a writer, be sure to focus on quality over quantity in your relationships. And that brings us to our last section.
Focus on Building Quality Relationships
Whether you immerse yourself in online or offline networking, ensure your focus is on quality over quantity. In other words, building quality relationships with a few people is a lot more valuable than developing surface relationships with hundreds of people. It’s less about how many business cards you can hand out and more about who will use them when the event is over. Quality connections play a huge part in how solid your network is in the long run.
Ultimately, when you’re networking as a professional writer, focus on genuine connection and honest communication when you meet new people. And they’ll likely become a part of your professional writing family in the future.
Although many writers dread networking, its benefits are undeniable. Hopefully, this guide to networking helps you build a circle of solid professionals and friends that genuinely want the best for you in your professional writing journey.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to freelance writing, business productivity, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.