It's not what you know
That it's not what you know but who you know is a saying often used in a business context. As an entrepreneur who finds most of my clients through word-of-mouth and referrals, it is vital that I am an active networker.
But did you know that writers need to be networkers too?
Good writers, I believe, do not work in isolation, never showing their work to anyone and rarely leaving their desks. I believe that good writers ‘get out there’ too. They get out there, they meet people and stay in touch with them, recognising that they are an incredibly rich resource.
Inspired by the people I meet
As a blogger and a features writer, I have found some of my best inspiration for the pieces I write by making new friends, attending workshops, joining clubs and going to conferences. Sometimes these people become the focus of an article – sometimes I call upon them, as experts, to comment on a topic I’m writing about. If I hear they have written a book, a play or are performing in some way, then this is an opportunity to review their work and write about that too. For many years, I wrote regular pieces for The Weekly Telegraph, the career section of The Independent on Sunday and a range of local expat publications. I can safely say that the majority of these articles were about people I had met along the way. However, I didn’t meet them randomly. I was pretty strategic about it.
Why do I network?
Let me be clear. I don’t much like the term ‘network’ either. I always think that really it’s just about making friends. It’s about meeting people and remembering them, while helping them to remember you.
The people I meet are a rich resource for my writing for a number of reasons, including:
Staying in touch
Over the years I have collected business cards and contact details of thousands of people who have crossed my path and I've worked hard to try and stay in touch with many of them. Sometimes I may send them the odd email, occasionally I will meet them for a coffee, or have a video chat. Sometimes I will make a point of seeking them out at an event but often I just invite them to sign up to my blog, one of my Facebook pages or social media accounts or this Monthly Inspirer, just so I can stay in touch.
And I always, always, have some to give to the people I meet, however small. A business card, a bookmark with my details on it, a sticker with my address on it. Anything!
Where writers network
Here is a short list of some of the places I’ve met people who have been vital to my work as a writer:
In other words, as a writer, you can meet important people everywhere. A good writer is only as good as their networks so be aware and grateful for the folk that you meet and start taking the next step by staying in touch.
You do have a business card, or something to hand out, don't you?
Jo Parfitt's Monthly Inspirer