You’ve been counting down for months, excited about the upcoming event you’re going to. The plan is to network with agents, publishers and fellow writers. In your head you’re fabulous at networking … Or are you??
In order to survive a networking event without disastrous consequences avoid making the following mistakes as though your life depends on it. First impressions last a lifetime! Here’s what NOT to do when networking, plus what you should do instead.
1) You Ignore Others
You’ve arrived. You’re milling through the crowds of people and spot someone your desperate to talk to. However, they are already in the middle of a conversation with a few others. Do not go in guns blazing and start talking. Approach the group, smile to all that are there and listen to what’s being said. Be interested. When the opportune moment arrives, introduce yourself. Don’t keep thinking about what you want to say either, you may just miss a valuable piece of advice. MORE: 15 Questions To Help You Network Like A Professional
2) You Don’t Gather Intelligence
So, you are engaged in the conversation that’s going on now … Be part of that conversation. Ask questions to those that are speaking. S/he could be an author talking about a book release … Or s/he may be an agent talking about a new client who’s up and coming. You may be talking to a publisher who thinks they’ve got the next Da Vinci Code on their hands. Asking questions is how we learn and develop our craft and networking skills. Everyone has different strengths and experiences, learn from this and it could just help you on your way.
3) Your Ego Hits The Roof
You’re working your way through the room and you’re speaking to everyone that you come to. Don’t be full of yourself, leave the ego at home. You may think you have the next novel to make the Sunday Times Bestseller list. However, telling everyone that and being full of your own self-importance is not a trait that people find endearing. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in how you approach people. Be passionate about your work, just do it in a more subtle way. MORE: THIS Is How You Create Your Writing Career
4) You Get Plastered
Networking events can go on for just a day or a long weekend. Do not show people your best impression of Liam Gallagher from the Oasis days in the 90’s. People don’t want to hear swearing every other word. Nor do they want to be stumbled into whilst they are engaged talking to someone else.
Know your limits and stick to them. It’s very embarrassing to make a fool of yourself at an event. Remember you could be sitting opposite them at breakfast the following morning!
5) You Bad Mouth Others
You see an author whose books you don’t enjoy … Or an agent you feel should have paid more attention to you … Or a publisher who you can’t believe didn’t pick up your book. You tell anyone who’ll listen how you’ve been served a serious injustice. How very dare they!
Stop right there. You never know who you may be talking to. The people you are slagging off might be friends of those that you are talking to. This a bad quality by most people’s standards and will do you no favours when you’re plugging your new book.
If you’ve got nothing nice to say? Say nothing at all! As the saying goes, ‘silence is golden’. This is a networking event and you want people to remember you for the RIGHT reasons.
Follow these guidelines and you’ll make it through the other side of your networking event. Be polite, be kind. Send them a message saying how nice it was to meet them and look forward to seeing them at future events. You will bump into lots of these people again, so make sure the impression you leave is a fabulous one. MORE: 5 Quick Tips To Network Effectively
BIO: Claire Miles is an avid reader and writer working on her first crime novel. She lives in Devon with her husband and two sons. Follow Claire on instagram at @clairemiles7322
Oh, dear. Number 4 kind of explains why networking is not for me. I’ve made an eejit of myself at social occasions once too often.
As always, Lucy, you’ve given sage advice. Every one of those points is spot on. thx