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Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

What To Do at a Writer’s Night Out

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Here in Rochester, MN, I organize a monthly Writers Night Out.

The meetings are described as an “informal gathering where writers can meet and talk about current projects, story ideas, or any other writing-related topics.”

If you’re looking to organize Writer’s Night Out events in your area, there are a few things I’ve found to help them be more successful:

1.  Stay “relaxed” and “informal”

We meet at a local coffee shop to take advantage of their casual atmosphere.  Even though there’s no formal agenda, I often have several topic ideas in mind.  A few that are always sure to provoke debate are:

  • self-publishing vs. traditional publishing
  • whether writers should start out writing a novel or write smaller articles for newspapers first
  • when is the best time to write?

When the conversation lags, I toss out questions that center around debatable points, and let the opinions of others unfold.

Keeping the conversation informal is important.  When people are relaxed, ideas flow more freely.  They’re also more likely to come because they believe they may get something out of it.

2.  Talk about opportunities

In our area, there are several monthly meetings hosted by different writing groups, and other opportunities (like writing conferences and festivals) that people can attend.  I make sure to mention these at each informal meeting, especially if there’s a new member who shows up.

Other opportunities might include:

  • Topics that need coverage in a local newspaper
  • Freelance opportunities (I’ve gotten a few jobs this way)
  • How to find story ideas
  • Contests
  • Agents/publishers seeking particular types of work

3.  Be willing to listen

There are many times where I let others take control of the conversation.  Since this is informal, there’s no meeting moderator, though I often serve that role to keep the conversation flowing.

If you get a good mix of writers, there are going to be other talented folks who deserve your attention.  Pay attention to their experiences.  No matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn.

4.  Thank everyone for coming

Regardless of how the night flows, always be sure to thank everyone for coming.  They took time out of their hectic schedule to come and feed off the energy of other writers.  Let them know you appreciate their time.

Have you gone to a writer’s night out?  Are you interested in finding one in your area?  Do you host one?  What have you found successful?  What do you like to get out of a writer’s night out?  Let us know in the comments!

Getting Started With Networking as a Writer

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Earlier this week, one of our members posted this question in the forums:

I understand networking is extremely important especially if you would like to have something published but my question is how do you do this? How does someone like myself build up a network of links and acquaintances at such an early stage?

It’s an excellent question, and I’m taking a stab at it here.

First, as a shameless self-plug, I think forums like WritAnon are a great place to start. You can start finding out more about people, and as you get to know people better, they’re more likely to want to help you succeed.

Next, blogging is a good way to build a following, BUT you have to have a purpose with your blog. There are too many blogs that are unfocused out there, so you want to ensure you’re blogging for a purpose.

What do I mean by a purpose? Perhaps your purpose is to blog using short stories to establish yourself as an author in a particular genre. Perhaps you want to share some area of expertise you have that others do not (I blog about robotics, volunteering, and my family life in addition to running the blog here at WritAnon). Each blog as its own purpose, and I try to write articles that are interesting and focused on the audience for my blog.

Also important for would-be bloggers:  blog on a regular schedule.  It might be once a week, a few times a month, or a couple times a day, but create a schedule and stick to it.  I’d recommend starting light (once a week) and writing more often if you find you have more time and more to say.

If you want to build followers relatively quickly, Twitter is an awesome tool. However, you have to keep using it regularly (at least once a day), or your follower counts will start to drop.  And you have to say something interesting.  “I’m brushing my teeth again” doesn’t count.  “I’m brushing my teeth with an alligator skin toothbrush” might.  Especially if you have a photo to prove it.  Disclaimer: I don’t know if someone actually makes those, but I’d probably recommend against using one even if they did.  Please don’t capture an alligator and use it as a tooth brush.

Lastly, creating your own website that you update often (at least once a week) is useful, especially if you want people to find you by searching on your real name. You can check out my personal site in my signature if you want to see how I do it. I’ll be posting something tomorrow or Saturday for a new article. You then want to sprinkle it here and there on the Internet so people have a higher chance of finding the real you.

As an afterthought, I should also say: don’t try to do too much networking at once. It can easily become a full-time job if you let it.  Social networking should enhance your writing, not take away from your time of working on your stories.

These were my off-the-cuff and slightly edited comments.  What other things should a budding writer should do to build their network?

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