Networking, What It Is and What It Isn’t

A group of bloggers sat around a table at a coffee shop. One newer blogger shared the uncertainty of fitting in the fast-paced blogging world. A seasoned blogger spoke words of encouragement. Another offered a tip to help her overcome her fear.

Yet another offered to host a blog link-up with her to bring in more readers.

This is networking at its best.

Networking could be defined as intentionally creating relationships with people who share a passion that can mutually benefit each other.

In today’s tip, we’ll explore numerous ways to connect with others – as well as what networking is and isn’t.

There are many ways to network.
  • You can network at writer’s conferences.
    I’ve presented at She Speaks for 12 years. I’ve also taught at other writers conferences around the nation. This is one way to connect with writers, agents, publishers, and editors who share your passion for writing, but also may share a passion for your message.
  • You can network at local writing groups.
    Years ago, this was my first step. I joined a Christian writers group in a city 60 miles away and attended once a month. It was valuable on so many levels.Search online for a writers group in your area.
  • You can network with friends who write
    When I moved to a new state four years ago, there was not a writing group. However, I discovered other writers in my area and we now meet in person once a month.Nurturing those friendships have led to natural networking opportunities. For example, one writer and I had a book launching in the same month. We did a video together and shared them on our blogs and social media. We do a live broadcast together. We encourage each other when writing is hard.
  • You can network through online organizations
    COMPEL is an example of one online organization that nurtures writers. There are others. However, don’t limit it to writing only. If your passion is how-to writing or restoring furniture, marriage, Bible study, humor, or any other niche, it’s great to connect and network with online groups or organizations that are focused on that niche.
What networking is not:
  • Networking is not meeting people just to get something from them. It’s mutual give and take.
  • Networking isn’t just building a database of people who might benefit from what you offer. While building a database is a great idea, networking is building a community of people who strengthen one another.
  • Networking isn’t passive. No one is going to show up at your door and ask you to be a part of their community.
  • Networking isn’t spam. Courtesy is key when reaching out. One tip is to meet a person first based on the fact that you like them or like the organization. Get to know them. Make a friend. Then see where that leads.

Choose one of the following:

  1. Search online or in your Christian Writers Market Guide for a conference or writers group in your area or region. Share that here.
  2. Share one intimidation factor you might have about networking. We’ll take this deeper!

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  2. I have never thought of networking with local writers! Another reason I am so thankful for Compel! I learn so much each week! Thank you for all you guys are teaching us!

  3. Melinda Patrick: October 22, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    I attended my first writer conference, She Speaks 2017, and made friends. We still stay in touch, encouraging one another.
    I have made a few networking connections through friends at home. We don’t meet on a regular basis (I’m learning we should, though) but do stay in touch.
    I will reach out to them over the next two weeks and set a time for us to come together in person.
    Thanks for the encouragement, Suzie!

  4. Joanne Almeter: October 15, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    I used to be a hard core introvert. Somehow, I don’t really think this is God’s will for me.
    At She Speaks, I put myself out there many times.
    I was so blessed. I met so many WONDERFUL people.
    One intimidating thing: Networking is a little like being a freshman in high school. You look up to the seniors and say, “Wow….”

    • Joanne, I feel you! As an extrovert, I have no problem making friends, but networking is still an area I struggle with. I am so glad She Speaks blessed you and you felt God grow and stretch you.

  5. Susan Daugherty: October 12, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Northwestern Christian Writers Conference is held in Minneapolis-St. Paul in mid July. It is closer to home for me in a place that is in my comfort zone, so I registered for it before I got up the courage to attend my first She Speaks! While there I picked up informational material on the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild. Their monthly meeting line-up looks amazing.

    I feel like I don’t have the credentials or experience others have, and worry that I will not know all the “writer lingo”, so it is sometimes scary to step out and network. When I do take the plunge, I meet amazing people and come away inspired!

  6. 1)I discovered the Writer’s Group called Word Weavers. The closest group they have presently is about two hours away but they do offer on-line critiquing as well.

    2)Frankly I’m not very good about putting myself out there and I’m even worse about asking for help. After being a stay at home mom for so long I’ve lost a bit of my confidence.

  7. Networking feels like marketing to me. If I’m honest, they’re both intimidating. I recognize either under-confidence or pride in myself, though I long to be operating in a lovely courageous in-between spot instead. Sometimes I fear I’ve ‘over-sold’ my writing ideas/dreams/pursuits, such as at a conference. And many times, I feel I’m not ‘ready’ for opportunities in smaller social networking settings. With all that being said, I value what Suzie has shared about networking going both ways–it cannot be one-sided. Building any kind of platform is truly a challenge for me because I am a relationship kind of person. I don’t jump around with trends quickly or easily, but I value relationships over the long haul. I think ‘patience’ is key. I probably am networking, just by following what God has for me in my daily life. Yet, I also want to respond to His call to write enough to do ‘something’ toward it each day. I guess I have made myself an offering to the Lord, but it is not my nature to make anything happen necessarily. So, with growth in mind, I appreciate the wide array of presentations and perspectives offered through Compel Training.

    • I agree with you that networking feels like marketing to me. I am often afraid to reach out and when others reach out, I wonder what they want from me.

  8. Desiree Taylor Taylor: October 6, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Networking is one of my favorite things about writing. I love making friends and getting to know others in a real way. I need to look up local ones. It is hard here in New England. There are a lot of writers but to find a Christian writer is a whole other thing. I think there is a New England Writer’s retreat in NH, I want to check that out. I love networking here on Compel. This is where I have met most of my writing friends and it has helped me stick with this long process. Thanks for sharing, Suzie!

  9. Calvonia Radford: October 5, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    The Kentucky Christian Writers Conference is held a little over one hour away. The next conference is June 20 – 22, 2019. It would be intimidating for me to attend this conference because I wouldn’t know anyone there. I recently connected with a fellow Compel sister who lives very close to my town. Perhaps she could attend as well. But guess what? We haven’t met yet.

  10. Elizabeth Tate: October 5, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you Suzie. This was great and very enlightening. I can so relate because for many years I was involved with networking in the business world and I found the most success when I developed relationships first. Funny how I never made the connection that networking is similar across the board.

  11. The Christian Writers Market Guide does not have any groups for the East Bay in Northern California. The closest is Castro Valley and San Francisco. I may have to commute to participate in one, but before I do that, I’ll become a member again of Inspire. One of the benefits is they’ll connect me with writers in my area or as close to my area as possible. I’m going to stop procrastinating and add it to my list of goals for next week. When it’s a goal, I get it done. Suzie, thank you for the encouraging post! 🙂

    Funny how timing is everything with posts. The last couple of weeks, my thoughts have strongly been filled with the need to join a writer’s group in my area and set goals for bringing blog back to life. When God puts something on my heart, I usually say yes and obey right away. I’m embarrassed to say this is an area I’ve been dragging my feet for four years, which is unlike me. It’s time to move forward.

  12. I looked. I found. Now, to conquer.

  13. I found North Alabama Writers Group but then saw it was mainly a fiction group. I also found Coffee and Critique and Huntsville Area Writer. While none of these groups seems to be a good fit for me either due to content or location, I am encouraged and plan to dig deeper tonfind one that does! I’m surprised to find these 3 in just one quick search.

    I love networking at She Speaks , meeting everyone and discussing what we are working on or what we are passionate about. It’s comfortable and everyone is supportive of each other. Intimidation comes outside of there when the comparisons game starts creeping in and I let myself think I’m not as good as these other people!

    • I think this is why our Community groups are so valuable. We do need each other in this journey. That’s one of my favorite things, watching writers connect and form long-lasting and encouraging friendships!

  14. Nancy Ehlinger: October 3, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    I was surprised to find one in Fernandina. I thought Jacksonville (Florida) would be the closest. Writers by the Sea meets once a month about 10 minutes from my house. 🙂
    The hardest thing for me is walking into a room when I don’t know anyone. I always feel like I’m back in fifth grade and no one needs a new friend.

    • I hope you conquer those fears and do it anyway! Who needs a new friend? I do! There’s someone asking that same question. You may be the answer to her prayer.

  15. I just sent in my request to join Writers on the Rock Facebook page. I am headed to She Speaks Studio in November. I agree with Wanda… I have cold shivers, but I know once I get involved it will be worth it. Thank you Suzie! These short posts are packed with a lot of good stuff.

  16. Just the word “networking” usually sends cold shivers down my spine. Being an introvert makes it hard for me to reach out to others, but Suzie’s post has given such practical helps the idea of networking is a little less intimidating. Thanks Suzie!

    • You are welcome!

    • Calvonia Radford: October 5, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      I”m naturally an introvert as well. I love the quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. I think networking is the same. As Suzy implied, we build relationships with people because we like them. We let God do the rest.

  17. I searched the Writer’s market guide and found two conferences, both two hours away. I also found the groups were about the same distance. I have met a few people here on Compel that live close to me. I think we are going to try and get together and see what happens.

    I love where you said it’s not passive. I need to be proactive. Good reminder.

    I would love to follow other Christian bloggers here on Compel. Is there a way I can find out what everyone’s blog is?

    • When you say Market Guide is it the Christian Writer’s Market Guide or Writer’s Market. I see 2 different ones on Amazon.

      • Barb, there are actually several different market guides. If you want to write for the Christian market, then you’d choose the Christian Writer’s Market Guide.

    • I’d connect in the Blogging Community group. There you can connect with over 200 bloggers!

  18. Shirlee Abbott: October 2, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    Networking is a challenge, and it comes at a cost. I looked but couldn’t find a Christian writers group within driving range (the downside of rural living!). I put time into two on-line critique groups that eventually fell apart–because too many of the members focused only on what they could get and too few were doing the giving. My third try was a brilliant success! I’ve put time into other networking activities (following writer blogs, attending conferences and seminars). More contacts fizzled than connected, but the successes made the effort worthwhile. Don’t let failure shut down the process. Try, try, try again!

  19. Great insight, Suzie. I missed being at She Speaks this year, but love the relationships that have come from it. Hugs!