"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Guest Post: Networking: a gift or a curse? by Nadine Maritz

Networking in general—whether via social groups, online or events—has always been critical to any business. These days, more and more articles emphasize networking—calling it the single most powerful marketing tactic in use today. So much so that most businesses claim that it’s one of the only ways to accelerate and sustain success.

Today I would like to discuss how networking has changed over time, give you some tips for successful marketing and talk about some of the pros and cons. I’m also going to share a few networking sites that have helped me grow as a writer and interact with others in this industry.

Previously, we had to physically go out and look for people to spread the word about the products we’re trying to sell, but nowadays we have these abilities at the tips of our fingers. This has turned the basic tenets of networking around. Today it’s not just about who you know but also who knows you, likes you and believes in your product. It’s all about how you come across, how passionate you are, how much you’re willing to give to fans and followers and how you deal with issues when you get little in return.

Networking today has many benefits, but it does come with its own set of problems:

Modern technology leads to faster and more widespread exposure. Writers now reach more readers in a day than most writers did in a lifetime a century ago. However, we also need to be aware that the greater exposure also exposes you to people who didn't like your work and are determined to let you (and everyone else) know about it.

Promoting yourself via online media has become an important requirement for acquiring an agent. Today it’s not just enough to just write the book, you have to be willing and able to flog it too.

Self-promotion is time consuming. Time which authors used to spend on writing now gets sucked up by marketing.

The relationships you establish on all the different social sites are an important tool for a writer, but it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the daily demands of such sites, which again leads to less writing.

If you don’t use your social media sites correctly or make mistakes, you run the risk of a public backlash which in return damages your brand.

Authors are now being judged not just by their writing but also by their actions and personalities online.

My tips for utilising all such sites to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks are therefore as follows:

Surround yourself with people who can help you achieve your goal whether it’s via online relationships, social groups or events, and make sure you maintain these relationships. These days publishing houses prefer you to already have a built-in following and an established online presence.

Be humble when it comes to dealing with fellow authors, publishers and agents. People are far more willing to help someone who wants help than someone who thinks he knows everything.  

Know that you will ultimately spend more time on marketing your product/book than you will in creating it.

Be approachable and honest, polite and professional. Remember that once it’s on the web it’s there forever.

Streamline your posts and comments. People don’t have time to read long explanations—they want to know in as few words as possible what it’s about and what makes it great.

Spellcheck. If you’re marketing your writing ability, make sure your posts are well-written and error free.

Don’t overexpose yourself. People get frustrated when you constantly bombard them with the same stuff.

Establish personal relationships. People invest in and support someone they know and trust, someone who can benefit them as a resource or help others succeed.

Try not to run your social media by using bots, this creates a distance between you and your followers that would more likely gain you a bad reputation.

Post content pertaining to your target audience; ensure that it is helpful, interesting and relevant.

Create a blog. This is fantastic exposure that allows your followers to get to know you and really feel connected.

Create a website. Publishers and agents require this in our time.

Attend writing and publishing courses if and when you can, talk to agents and publishing houses, participate in workshops, join writing organizations.

Bearing all this in mind, here are some good social networking sites that have helped me get to where I am today with my writing career: 

1. Google + was created to share details, photos etc. more like one would do in real life. There are circles, hangouts and other networking tools that enable me to get my stuff out there on an international scale. 
2. Facebook has become one of the modern ways to socialize and build relationships with people that are involved in the industry that I want to grow in. It’s imperative for me to spend time here assisting people with their goals and getting word out there about things I feel are important. 

3. Twitter has connected me with hundreds of people that are either on the same road as me, or further. 

4. GoodReads is a site specifically for lovers of books. You can comment and leave reviews on specific novels, create and join in chats about books and authors and, of course, add your book for review. 

5. Stage 32 focuses mainly on people in the film industry. I spend time on this site building relationships with the hope of getting my writing to screen one day.  

6. Figment hosts an online writing community where you can also connect with other readers and discover new authors.

7. YouwriteOn was established to assist new writers in developing their writing. It’s one of the UK's leading independent review exchange sites.  

8. Critters.org is an online critique group.

9. Fastpencil lets you self-publish and sell eBooks in various formats. 

10. #FridayFlash was designed to increase visibility for fiction writers. Post a piece of flash fiction (1000 words or less) onto your blog and tweet the link on Fridays. 

While these sites are all fantastic in their ability to build relationships and help fellow writers, they remain time consuming. It’s therefore important to set goals for yourself as a writer daily. Note what you want to achieve in that day—it’s the only way to stay sane and succeed. 

Nadine Maritz ( formerly known as Cloete) was born in 1981 in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa’s City of Gold. A variety of influencing factors and individuals has helped shape her journey towards writing this her first novel. 

Nadine's Novel “My Addiction: My Gift; My Curse,” is a South African contemporary fiction novel that reflects on the relatable day to day livelihood of an Afrikaans vampire nurse that works in an old age home.  This is the first novel of a series.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Very good piece. Some of these sites I have mastered. Others are still beyond me (Google+) and others I have not heard of. Just yesterday I met with a writer who is farther in her journey that I am, and we shared stories and info. Tomorrow night I have having coffee with another writer. Relationships help you get around in this world, and writers are no different.