When I was obtaining my degree in music education, I had a professor who often spoke about networking. The word “networking” made me shudder as if he’d told me to walk Central in a dress that barely stretched from boobs to butt.
It’s odd that the word repulses me because my dad was a stockbroker. He did all sorts of networking. But he never ever called it that. He was meeting a client, or speaking at a seminar, or attending a company convention in St. Louis. He had clients in other states that he’d visit or take out to dinner if they came here, but he never networked. And I can’t recall him schmoozing either unless he was making a joke. Networking implies, to me, a one-sided agenda where you don’t care what the other people are about aside from what they have to offer you. My dad built his career on personal connections, not networking.
When going to a convention, make personal connections.
You may call me a hair-splitter, but I think it’s a pretty thick strand of hair. I recently went to Bubonicon, which is a science fiction and fantasy convention in Albuquerque. My favorite part was meeting David Lee Summers and Susan Voss for coffee and running into Dave at panels. My second favorite part was listening to Connie Willis speak whenever I got a chance. Sure, David has published three of my stories and Susan was kind enough to read and review A Sunset Finish, so I should be meeting them for a business connection. But, to me at least, it was much more like new friends getting together to chat about common interests.
When I ran into Dave, it was exciting because we talked about writing. I see him 2-4 times a month, but writing is never discussed. So yeah, from a business perspective I gained a new poster to Spark Tally, but the more important aspect of it is a friend of mine is making a big push to make writing habitual and I’m able to help.
Connie Willis I really have nothing to offer, but I plan to beg and plead her to do a post here without sounding too crazy stalkerish
I think attending conventions is an important part of any career. Honestly, Elementary School Music Educators have the best conventions out there. You don’t sit and take notes. You sing, dance and improvise. They are delightful. I’d like to go to a big New York convention for writing one day. I’m sure the creative vibe is stunning. But I’m also sure I’d still come home with just a few new connections that I found to be genuine. Long story short, I guess, quality trumps quantity.
And speaking of connections, please come back Wednesday for David Lee Summer’s guest blog about his new novel Lightning Wolves and how the scenery from our home state of New Mexico inspired him. All history buffs will love the post!
Last year’s Bubonicon was the first moment I thought about professional writing. This year’s was the first I considered myself a writer. By the next, I am shooting for author, with at least a manuscript finished. But it was nice seeing a kindred spirit that I recognize and can comfortably chat with at the con. I am definitely in the same boat as you, I have little digital presence, and have trouble making new acquaintances. But having a friend already getting her name out there and being published has been a big inspiration for me, so you can wear that as a badge of confidence for yourself.
But this year, in addition to writing, I am reading more (books and blogs) to get a better sense of the current market, so I can actually talk to some of the newer, younger authors at cons about their work. And I would like to be at a point to talk about my work as well. I think having a completed work will give me some confidence there.
If I can get the time off, I am also considering going into the deep end of the writing cons, with WorldCon in Spokane next year. If I’m doing this, I want to do it fully, plus there is talk of less US locations for WorldCon so wanted to take advantage while it is relatively close (sorry I missed the San Antonio two years ago)
And yes, sadly we talk little about writing on Friday gatherings, but usually by the time we break I am braindead for the evening, So maybe if we sneak in some time before everyone arrives.