When you say the word “networking” to introverts the first thing they tend to do is cringe. Networking brings to mind impersonal business events where salesman-type guys in anonymous suits aggressively pass out their cards and collect as many phone numbers as possible. This couldn’t clash more with the inborn preference of introverts to forge meaningful connections with people based on authentic, shared interests, intellects, and passions.
However, if you happen to be an introvert and you’re also a writer who wants to make connections that could help further your writing career, there is hope. Here are five ways to network for introverts that anyone can pull off…
No. 1 — Join a Facebook Group
Full disclosure: I hated Facebook until I joined my Creativity Camp private Facebook group. If a writer friend hadn’t talked me into it I never would have done it. I was convinced that Facebook was nothing but one long stream of updates, pictures, and rants that would scatter anyone’s focus, and as an introvert, I’m highly sensitive and get easily overwhelmed. Imagine my surprise when I found myself logging in every day actually looking forward to the inspiring articles, writing prompts, and cheerleader-style encouragement of my fellow campers.
How to Do It
Make a list of five things you feel strongly about in your creative life. “Screenwriting,” “Social Justice,” or “Independent Films” are all examples of items that have a lot of potential. Next, search Facebook for groups that revolve around these kinds of topics and request to join. Usually, if you’re a real person with a real account, it should be no problem. Watch for a while to get comfortable before jumping in, and then push yourself to participate just a little bit every few days. Comment on someone’s post. Like other posts that resonate with you. If you check in regularly with the group, you’ll make online writing friends without even having to try.
Best Resource to Get Started: 20 Facebook Groups for Writers You Don’t Want to Miss
No. 2 — Blog about Your Creative Passion
Writers these days get tired of hearing they need to blog in order to build their marketing platforms. Thinking about it like that makes it sound boring and difficult to me too. But there’s no reason to make your blog into a pushy advertisement when you can use it as a fun and playful outlet to explore whatever it is that makes your heart sing. That’s the perspective I started with and I’ve now been blogging every week for almost four years.
How to Do It:
First, get clear on your purpose. Are you writing screenplays because you fell in love with science fiction when you were a kid and you want to bring that joy to others? Or maybe you have a unique view on the writing industry based on past experience and you would love to help newbies avoid the mistakes you made? Does it sound fun to write about your current works-in-progress and you feel an audience would keep you accountable about meeting your writing goals? Find your underlying passion and translate it into your purpose, then use that as the mission statement behind every new blog post. Once you put your passion and purpose out there, like-minded readers will follow.
Best Resource to Get Started: The Essential (and Simple) Guide to Blogging with Purpose
No. 3 — Start Tweeting Already
The writers who avoid Twitter are the writers who haven’t spent enough time with the social media giant to really get it. Frequently, introverts assume that you have to be witty and outgoing or have celebrity status before anyone will want to follow you. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can tweet articles that interest you, word count updates on your current WIP, or a picture of your desk all set up for a fantastic writing session that day. You can also retweet stuff you think is cool from other writers, which is how the networking starts to happen.
How to Do It
Sign up for an account (obviously) and then start tweeting. If you already have an account start following more people. Look at big-name accounts like Writer’s Digest, Jon Winokur, or NaNoWriMo and see who’s following them. Follow anyone who has a shared interest with you (loves superheroes, is a fan of old screwball comedies, can’t get enough of Joss Whedon, etc.) and then send them a tweet mentioning that you two have that thing in common and asking a question about it. When you get an answer back, bingo, you’re on the road to building a relationship.
Best Resource to Get Started: 5 Twitter Tips for Newbies
No. 4 — Get to Know Goodreads
Goodreads is packed with emerging writers who are talented, innovative, and always looking for new readers. Bonus points if you leave a nice review attached to your four or five-star rating on their books. How does reading and reviewing lead to networking opportunities you may ask? Simple—for indie writers publishing is a whole new game. Today’s average independent author is NOT sitting in some ivory tower with no time to mingle with the people. On the contrary, if you leave a great review on Goodreads for an indie writer whose work you loved and then send a message telling them exactly that, you’ll more often than not strike up a conversation that can lead to good things.
How to Do It
Sign up for a Goodreads account and start building your shelves. The more books you rate and review, the more recommendations Goodreads will give you. Don’t be shy about accepting Friend Requests either. Goodreads is a community of readers and writers who aren’t hesitant about reaching out and make connections with strangers. If you do stumble upon someone whose work sounds like it could be right up your alley, let them know with a brief, courteous message and include the fact that you’re a writer too.
Best Resource to Get Started: Goodreads for Authors: Why Forbes Calls It the Most Important Networking Site on the Internet & How You Can Benefit
No. 5 – Don’t Forget about Real Life
With all the dizzying possibilities of online connection at our fingertips, we writers sometimes neglect our most important asset—the real friends we’ve made in real life. If you’re an introvert chances are that you’ve built a handful of long-lasting, tougher-than-nails friendships throughout the years. Although you might be afraid of “taking advantage” or “tooting your own horn” you can relax. Anyone who is a very good friend to an introvert knows that is hardly ever the case.
How to Do It
Drop the self doubt and tell your friends that you would love it if they kept their eyes and ears open for opportunities that could help you in your writing endeavors. Whether they hear about a great fellowship being offered, or see a promo for a writing contest, tell them to send whatever they think might be of interest your way. People like to help out their friends. It makes us feel good and builds an even stronger bond between us and the people we love.
Best Resource to Get Started: Your telephone. Pick it up and call your oldest and best friend. Right now.
No matter which of these five options you pick as your best bet, the true takeaway is to always be authentic in every interaction with your fellow writers and artists. You never know where the most trivial of conversations might lead. And you never know who might turn out to be your next amazing lifelong writer friend.