Friday, February 15, 2013

Networking - the primary Pull

One of the finest points of Pull Marketing is so basic it's actually a Golden Rule of good behavior: Treat others as You want to be Treated.

An aspiring novelist/writer/artist/ job-seeker /  is advised to begin networking while still in school. Networking encourages professionalism, mentoring, additional resources, and a supportive community through good times and bad. Sort of sounds like an ideal family, right? The type of family who all follow the Golden Rule. Seen a lot of them in your personal or professional life? Well, we can dream. However, it is through networking that we learn how to build the necessary boundaries between our private and public behaviors. Networking helps us keep our ego in line because there will always be someone more or less successful than ourselves. The crash-and-burn stories are shared through professional networks so everyone has the chance to avoid that same mistake.
Therese says: The novelist lifestyle a few years ago was to keep the butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard, churn out x# words in x# months, then submit (on every business level) to the publishing machine. If a novelist met certain standards for promotion by the publisher, a publicist was assigned to work with the author regarding how to behave in a public forum and connect with the audience. The job of a publicist was to coach the novelist into a persona that matched the brand devised by the marketing department. The sales force could then push the product (books!) into the distribution channels with the additional PULL of a Person/Persona for promotions. The persona created was to Meet the Expectations of the Audience, who bought the brand of books the author created, and wanted a greater Experience! 
Morgan says: In my day job as a corporate director, one of our salesmen recently asked me for some career advice.  He was curious as to why he was passed up for a promotion and wanted to know how to best prepare himself for that job when the next opportunity was available.  My suggestion to him was to build a network.  I recommended that he take the hiring manager, the division VP, and a potential peer to lunch seperately.  During the lunch he should get to know them, express his interest in the next opening, and {here's the kicker} ask them what he could be doing today to best prepare himself for his desired job.  Over the next few months he did just that, but most importantly he brought something to the table for each of them: 1) his sales experience, 2) product knowledge, and 3) direct voice-of-customer information for product improvement.  The difference between 'networking' and what east coasters call 'schmoozing' or 'sucking up' is that a schmoozer seeks personal gain and offers nothing in return.  In fact, a schmoozer will stab you in the back without giving it a second thought, if it gets them what they want.  Building a network requires both a give and a take.  A network built on a solid foundation of shared expertise and friendship benefits all its members, not just one member.  My story does end on a happy note.  The job the salesman wanted became open again.  HR didn't even bother posting the job externally, because everyone knew this particular salesman wanted the job.  When the job was posted internally, he was the first person that came to mind for the position.  He will transition to his new job next month.  With regards to my writing career, my network of friends and associates has helped me with everything from craft to beta readings....and garnered many a Twitter follower.  In return I've offered the same support, plus free marketing advice.
For the novelist who does not have a dedicated publicist, please review our Persona exercises now. Understand the persona you are creating while networking even as an aspiring novelist. All professional networking has the flavor of interviewing for hire or recruiting a team.

An aspiring surgeon does not show up for a hospital tour with axle grease under their fingernails. A successful surgeon does not publicly trash talk nurses, pharmacists, or medical suppliers.

In that same line of thinking, consider how you present yourself and your persona at writing conferences, book signings, and writing club meetings.  Are you the first person to lend a hand with organizing an activity or are you the first person to criticize the works of others?  Do you readily give constructive feedback when asked or are you the person that never has the time to read another person's work?

Social media has brought "freedom of speech" to the globe and for some reason this means a lot of people like waving their dirty laundry. This is only recommended if the audience you want to pull has a fetish for soiled undergarments.

Here's some links to review:
What I Learned from having a Literary Agent by Scott D. Southard  "See, the big mistake I made is I turned off the marketing part of my brain and just focused on my writing for five years." [Read More - including the comments - at Passive Guy]
One Thing An Author should Never Do on Social Media by Jonathan Gunson of Bestseller Labs  "So avoid shouting, take the social path, and you’ll be well on the way to igniting the viral ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion you need to ignite book sales." 
Considering Self-Publishing? [Read More at The Passive Guy!] "To further the artisanal analogy, think of an artisanal baker. Do we think s/he is an entrepreneur? Absolutely. She is making the bread, selling it, distributing it, etc. Would you ever go up to an artisanal baker and ask, “Is the reason why you have your own bakery that you didn’t get accepted by a large national baked goods manufacturer?” No. We don’t even think of that question. Guy is hoping that artisanal publishers will soon earn the same respect and merit as other artisans."


  1. Great post! For many years I was that person who was too busy. Too busy to read other people's books, too busy to comment, too busy to post and network. I barely had time to write. But I did network at least a little.

    I think each writer needs to choose where she spends her time and how it balances with the rest of her life responsibilities. However, networking and helping others should always be one of the tings you choose if you plan to be a career author. Whether you have the time to read and post a review of every book by every author in your network or only have the time to do one or two a year, it is the fact you take the time to do it that counts.

    I have been lifted by so many people in my RWA chapter, and by people beyond my chapter who have come into my life and offered/exchanged writing support. I sincerely believe the fact that I always found time to do at least help and review one or two authors in my network,in even the busiest part of my past life, has made a big difference. It kept me moving forward and built trust.

    I'm fortunate that I now have more time to give back than I ever have before, but I think it was the fact I did it in my busiest times that began to build trust. Trust in a network takes time. It can't be bought. It can't be made by a two month effort that is then abandoned for a year until you need something again. It is like a friendship--always needing a reminder that "I'm here for you, just ask" even though I may not always say it or show it.

    1. Thanks for these additional insights, Maggie!

      Trust is a primary aspect for good business relationships. As novelists we take it to a different level - because that's what The Arts are - and storytelling is an ART. A novelist-reader relationship is based on trust too. The reader wants a good story and will pick those go-to authors they trust to deliver a good story.

      Here at AM101, we trust that our readers (who are authors) understand the storytelling craft and that the art of writing is their primary focus. Our advice is geared to the business basics for an author and reader connection, beyond the ART, without either submitting to the money-making machine in the middle. We all in a new publishing paradigm. These are exciting times.