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Networking for everyone else…

August 23rd, 2013

I’m sure we all know people who are natural networkers; they strike up conversations with everyone they meet, find common interests and always know who to talk to on any topic. What about the rest of us? How can we network better?

Along with around half the population I am an introvert (and I suspect the proportion is higher for writers) and this brings its own challenges. I struggle to feel comfortable walking up to a stranger or introducing myself to someone unknown on the internet. In my mind I need a justification for intruding into other people’s space.

Fortunately, with the advent of social media, more people than ever are receptive to the idea of networking to further their careers. For almost all writers networking is essential – we need a range of people to sell work to and a range of experiences to write about. How then can we become more effective networkers?

Many years ago I read a networking tip on an in-flight magazine which has helped me out on many occasions: Don’t network for your benefit, network for other people’s.

Let me explain – when I interact with someone new I don’t think about how they can help me but how they can help others in my network (or be helped by them). If I meet someone with a particular interest I mention other people in my network with the same interests. If I can facilitate person A connecting with person B who can help them the chances are they will both remember me for my help. Although this altruism may seem artificial we need to remember that networking is seen as a mutually beneficial activity and everyone involved should be well aware that it is part of the way business is done.

This has an indirect benefit too, in that it reminds me of others in my network (and may prompt me to get in touch with them) and helps me remember the person I’m meeting – along with being introverted I’m terrible at remembering people!

I’d be interested in hearing any tips and tricks from others – do leave a comment!

Tony Jones is a freelance writer, blogger and reviewer with an interest in psychology, science and science fiction. He fits this all in around his day job as a management consultant.

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