A funny thing happened on the way to my root canal a few years back. I was sitting in the waiting room prior to seeing the specialty dentist when the receptionist asked me what I do for my work. I told her that I’m a children’s book writer, but then came the question I hate.
“Oh, that’s great! Would I know any of your books?”
The reality is, most strangers haven’t heard of me or my books, and I used to fumble the answer to that question every time I heard it. So I awkwardly mumbled something along the lines of: “Well, no, I’m not famous or anything, you’ve probably never read any of my…,” when she interrupted me.
“No really, just tell me the name of something you’ve written,” she encouraged.
I rattled off the first title that came into my head—my first book, Not Enough Beds!—and her mouth gaped open.
“I was just reading that to my grandson!” she exclaimed.
Honestly, I thought she was just being kind. I mean, what are the odds? But she proceeded to describe the book to me, so it was clear she had indeed read it recently! And when I showed up for my follow-up visit, she pulled a copy out from under the counter and begged me to sign it.
The whole experience ALMOST made the root canal worth it!
My point—and I do have one (to steal a line from Ellen DeGeneres), is that you should own your accomplishments (however modest) in networking situations. There’s no need for you to apologize for not being as well-established as another writer at the book conference, or for having fewer Facebook followers than the keynote speaker. Even if you are not yet published, you can still call yourself a writer if you dedicate yourself to writing. Project pride in what you HAVE accomplished, rather than apologizing for what you haven’t yet pulled off.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll even meet a fan in the most unexpected of places!