Tonight I contemplated networking. Truthfully, tonight I’m still contemplating networking. I'll admit it’s not my strongest area. There are people who are born networkers. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Networking to me feels a little bit like standing in the middle of the highway and singing. It isn't a comfortable thing at all. So for me networking is going to have to be a learned art. But that’s okay, because I’m realizing that it is learnable.
In the next few days, though, I’m going to get the chance to put my networking skills to the test. A novel manuscript I wrote a few years ago is one of the five remaining entries in a competition to find the next new horror novelist. It's an amazing opportunity. At this point I have a one in five chance of a publishing contract with a prominent genre publisher. The catch? The remainder of the competition is based on public voting. And while there will be--American Idol style--a panel of judges to help the undecided make their voting decision, let’s face it...the determining factor is going to be how well the contestants can drum up votes.
So tonight I sat down and made a list of places where I’ve set out networking feelers over the past few years, and I was actually pleasantly surprised. And you know what? There was a little bit of a lesson in my list, too. Sure there are the obvious places: friends, writing groups, work colleagues. But beyond that, how about the places where I share my love of amateur photography? And what about alumni groups? And why couldn’t I ask for a shout-out in the newsletter that I once co-edited?
It was a good lesson for me, a reminder that as a writer (and as a person), not to focus too narrowly, but rather to really look around at all available channels. More, it was a reminder to not compartmentalize the “writer” part of me from the rest of me. It’s a lesson I’ll remember.
So will I win the contest? I’d love to win, of course, but only the next few months will tell. I do know one thing. Win or lose, I plan on taking my lessons on the art of networking with me into whatever ventures come next.
When the details of the next round become available, I’ll be sure to post them here. And if anyone out there is reading yet--I know my blog is still very new--I’d love to hear about your own networking lessons.