Effective networking is about creating sound relationships rather than endlessly promoting yourself and your writing. So build networking relationships like you have built other relationships in your life. Take a genuine interest in the other person. Ask her about her writing projects. Give him openings to talk about the recent challenges and celebrations he’s experiencing as he builds his career. Don’t focus on selling yourself or your work. Instead, look for common ground with the other person. Do you both share a passion for poetry or nonfiction? Do you share a secret crush on the same “book boyfriend” from a recent YA bestseller? Do you both feel shy about mingling with a big crowd, but welcome the chance to connect with one other person on a deeper level? Reframing “networking” as “building a relationship” makes the activity comfortable, and if you’re comfortable, it will all go much better. After all, you’ve been making new friends since you entered the classroom door on your first day of Kindergarten—and when done right, networking is simply making new friends!
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