This is a two-part post. First I’d like to discuss networking, then I’d like to DO some networking.
So let’s start with the obvious question: What is networking, and why is it important?
We’re all pretty familiar with social networking on sites like Twitter and Facebook. It’s about making connections with people who have similar interests, goals, and skills. But professional networking is slightly more complex, and something I don’t think I’m very good at.
No one ever “taught” me networking. My mother mentioned it to me once in my life, but never elaborated on it or tried to teach me how to do it. School doesn’t really teach you how to do it . . . but school can be a good place for it to happen on it’s own.
For example, a couple of weeks ago at Rowan University, I was reading the school newspaper, The Whit. Specifically, I was reading an article about congressional politics, written by Matthew Turner, a Rowan student who also writes for Metro Philadelphia. He saw me reading his article and we started discussing politics and trading “business talk” as fellow writers. At the end of the conversation, we exchanged business cards.
This was professional networking taking place, entirely by accident. We bumped into each other, talked shop, and make a connection. I’m now using that connection to share Matthew’s professional name and background to a wider audience (if anyone who reads this post decides to check out Matthew’s articles or follow him on Twitter, he’s benefiting professionally from our brief encounter). Since he has my card, it’s possible he’ll also pass my name along to others at some point. The more people I give my card to, the more this can happen.
Networking can also happen when you work with someone and share their name to other potential clients. For example, my short story ebook, “Radiance,” features cover art by a very talented artist named Ravven. I link her name from my blog regularly, and I’ve raved about her work and her professionalism on Twitter. It’s possible she’ll find more clients this way, especially since if anyone asks me if I know a talented artist, her name will definitely be the one that comes up.
This type of professional networking goes beyond the casual networking I do on Twitter. Mostly, I’m on Twitter to make friends. I maintain a single account for my personal and professional life (though I know some people maintain separate accounts for each). This means that sometimes you’ll see me on Twitter talking about boobs, ranting about politics, or showing people pictures of the holes in my socks. Other times, you’ll see me posting links to news articles, friends’ blogs, and other such things. I blend these two, for better or worse (and I understand on some level that my silliness and dirty jokes could be hurting me professionally).
So while Twitter is a place for me to meet professionals and share important business information, it’s also a place where I goof off with my friends. Some spaces are more professional and less personal. I have a LinkedIn account (which I barely use), which is dedicated to purely professional stuff. I also have my blog, which tends to be a mix of personal and professional. I focus it more on the professional side, such as with posts about my professional career. I also consider my stories, fairy tales, and articles to be professional, since I post them here to showcase my writing abilities. But even though I focus my blog on professional things, sometimes I post really stupid random shit.
But since I definitely want to use my blog to promote my professional career, I’d like to expand that with networking. According to WordPress’s dashboard, I get an average of about 40-50 unique visitors to the blog in a week (which is more than I actually expected). That’s not a huge audience (though I’m grateful 40+ people care about my writing!). It could be a lot higher. Considering I’ve only had this blog up for a year, I have no idea if this is a good or bad number. But I’d like to increase it.
So here’s the part where I reach out. I’d like to do some cross-blog networking. I’ve posted on my friends’ blogs for flash fiction short stories before, and there’s a few blogs I regularly comment on, but I’ve never done something organized on a professional level.
So if you have a blog, and you’d like to network, post a comment here, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit me up on Twitter @cantrelljason. What I’m most interested in doing is swapping guest blog posts with people. I’d like to post in various places talking about my short story, “Radiance,” and promote it a bit more. And I’d like to put guest posts up here about your work, whether it be a book for sale, another type of project, or whatever. It’s not going to be as organized and themed as the flash fiction events my friends are running, simply because I’m too busy with school right now to develop and run something that focused. I’m just looking for simple, straightforward blog-swapping. I might organize something more elaborate in the future (since when properly motivated, I can devise some quite epic collaborative story ideas), but for this time I’d like to keep it basic.
So, if you’re interested, and you have something you’d like to promote, or you’d just like to some write something random on my blog, let me know! I’ll post pretty much anything you want to write on here (as long as it’s not like, dinosaur porn or something).