Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Survival Tip #5 - Cultvate Contacts... But Be Sincere

Last week over at The Killer Chicks, I talked a little bit about making friends in the industry.  It's an important thing - even if you're a hermit like I am - so I thought I'd expand on it a little here.

Finding friends online is easy enough.  There are writing groups, forums, and blogs everywhere - from the newest of writers who're just starting their first chapter to the most seasoned of professionals.  Some of them are awesome, others aren't.  You just have to find your niche and go for it.

Because, yeah, this whole thing can be extremely lonely.  Typically, your family and the friends you have outside of the industry can be supportive as hell, but they still don't really understand until they've been here doing this.  My mother is an awesome person and a voracious reader.  She listens to me talk about the writing and the querying.  She also listens to me rant when things get crazy-pants, and she tries to provide sound advice.  But she can only do so much.  All of them can only do so much.

Which is one reason you need writer friends.  It always helps to have some one out there in the world who understands.

Beyond that (or maybe in addition to that), though, you also need to 'cultivate contacts' in the business.  These days - and maybe all the days before - having contacts in the business is an important thing.  Knowing people who've been through this can help you overcome some of the difficulties because they've already faced them.  I know the friends I've made have helped me in numerous ways already, and I hope having those friends will help drive sales once I finally someday get a book published.  (Which goes back to another post I wrote for The Killer Chicks about something I call 'Pimpage'.)

"Exactly how am I supposed to do all this when I can barely say two words to strangers?" you might be asking.  Well, one thing you need to remember out here is these people aren't in front of you.  They can't see you.  No one is going to point and laugh.   Be yourself and I'm sure you'll find people who will be your friends.  Heck, if you're nice and yourself, you probably already have a friend right here.

But one thing you need to remember as you're out there trying to make friends and cultivate contacts and just generally network - you need to be sincere.  There's nothing that can turn a relationship sour faster than insincerity.  And if you can't be sincere, be silent.  Or as my mother always told me "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

How about it, folks?  Do you find the whole idea of making friends daunting?  Are you the kind of person who stops by a blog and reads, but doesn't comment because you're a wallflower?  What are some things you've done, or can do, to cultivate contacts?


  1. I suppose I'm lucky in that I have two personalities. One is the *real* me--the hermit in my writing cave dreaming up imaginary friends and playing with them. The other is the public face I've developed that lets me stand up in front of a crowd to perform. It's weird. Being "in front" doesn't really bother me. But being part of that crowd? Walking into a room full of strangers and trying to look and act normal? My palms go sweaty, I worry about my deodorant, mouthwash, and whether I have toilet paper stuck to my shoe or someplace even more embarrassing.

    Truthfully, I think most writers are like this. We live in our heads with all those imaginary characters where we control things--at least nominally. I'll admit I've had characters run amuck a time or ten. But then sometimes, we get lucky. We stare into that sea of blank faces and catch a deer-in-headlights expression so akin to our own. We gravitate. We make shy overtures. And then we retire to someplace a little quieter to talk, to get to know each other magic, we sometimes find a friend.

    And now I've put off the inevitable as long as I can. I have to actually walk out the door and go face salesmen. Appliance salesmen. Almost as bad as shopping for a car. *sigh*

    See? No good can come of going out in the real world! ;-)

  2. I read a ton of blogs and never comment - I always think 'Meh, they already hear from lots of people who are more concise and worldly than I am.' Guess I shouldn't be like that - but I like to be anonymous!

    Which leads me to the fact that, yes, pimping myself, cultivating contacts, etc is very hard for me. God help me when I do get published and I have to go looking for an author's quote for my book, or guest blogging opportunities.

    But, like you, I've made some awesome friends through the Internet. And making friends through the Internet is much easier than putting myself out there in real life (I'm like Silver, scared at that public outing).

  3. Wow, you're writing such deep, thoughtful posts. I'm ashamed of the shallow ones I'm putting out there.

    I agree it's important to make contacts. I make a point of not befriending anyone I wouldn't be friendly with in real life....I have to "click" with them on some level.

    I sort of view internet friends the way I do real life ones. I'm closer to some than others. I'm more likely to ask a favor of those people (and conversely more willing to DO a favor for them).

    There are people I'm happy to BS with and wave to and even buy a candy bar from, but they're not people I count on.

    As a published author and someone who blogs quite a bit, I'm always thrilled when someone takes the time to say "hi", comment on a post, or ask a question BUT I never have enough time to get around and do the same for other bloggers. ((hangs head guiltily)

    I've made internet friends through blogs and message boards. The one thing I'd suggest is that people not be all about themselves...just like in real life, it wears thin quickly!

  4. See now, Silver, this would probably be me if I ever went to a writers' conference. Put me up talking about things I know I know and I'm fine. Mingling amongst people out on the floor when it's just me? :shudder:

    I do that, too, Janet. Sometimes if someone else has already said something similar, I just don't comment. What I try to do now is agree with whoever said it first, so at least the blogger knows I stopped by. And yeah, making friends here is way easier - which makes it easier to find really awesome friends. ;o)

    LOL, JB, I started keeping a list of potential topics that occur to me throughout the day. When that runs out, I'm screwed. I agree with the idea of not making friends with people you wouldn't like in the real world. Just in here, I try to give people more benefit of the doubt - until they do something to make think otherwise, everyone is 'good people'. Outside the net, I'm more wary. I hope I never get all about myself, and if I ever do, feel free to smack me.

  5. I have a bit of a split personality when it comes to making friends. I'm actually very shy, but only about certain things. I don't like talking about really personal things, but I can make "light" friends very easily. By light, I mean I can chat with them and be friendly, but I don't talk about serious things. I'm also fine doing presentations or speeches *shrugs* I thought I would be terrified at the RWA conferences I've attended, but I found it very easy to chat with everyone =)

    For me, my real friends take years to develop. You, Jena Lang, Diana Paz etc... are some of my good writer friends, because I feel like I can talk to you guys about anything--writing or personal. =)


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