Networking: Initiating and building mutually advantageous relationships and partnerships.

Networking fires me up. I love it. Meeting new people. Hearing their stories. Discovering ways our worlds intersect. Adding value to their pursuits and welcoming  their involvement in my own. As a writer or speaker, networking is a key component of building your business and creating a sense of credibility with your audience. Now more than ever, publishers are expecting that you will confidently take the wheel and drive your own marketing campaign. And networking, when it comes to publicity, is essential.

HOWEVER (don’t you just love a well placed “however”???), … too often I watch people network with the sensitivity of the jellyfish that left me with a lasting impression while diving last summer. I’ve watched artists (writers, speakers, etc.) crawl all over “important” connections to be acknowledged and recognized. Real people become nothing more than stepping stones toward the summit of higher success. Though such relationships might propel them quickly, their footing isn’t sure, and the sting of insincerity is obvious. Temporary and superficial relationships can just as quickly give way, either removing the climber from her summit or leaving her at the top utterly alone.

This isn’t to deter you from networking and creating advantageous relationships. However (there it is again), I offer a couple cautions for the climb:

  1. First, never forget the fact that you are dealing with real people with real value. If you are using someone only for what they bring to the table, you run the risk of your true motives shining through. I lived in the sales world long enough to realize most people can sniff a salesman from a mile away. See the person first, the opportunity second.
  2. Second, remember your value is not determined by who you know (Read that again, just in case it didn’t stick). Be smart about your writing/speaking career. Take the time to invest in mutually beneficial relationships. Develop your business sense and understanding of our culture and market. But, when the day is done, it really doesn’t matter where you sit on the side of the mountain and how many people surround you, but that your head is looking up and your feet are pressing on toward the goal. Use your craft, your head, and your determination to push forward in your pursuits. Just don’t step on people to get there.

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