The power of networking

The other day, one of my clients approached me asking if I knew anyone – an agent or a manager – in the music business who could help a close relative who is a talented songwriter and singer.  This is something way outside of my bailiwick but then I remembered that a colleague, who I really like, respect and trust, works at a large, multi-faceted agency, and it occurred to me that they must have a music component.  Sure enough, I contacted him and he got right back to me saying that he had been in touch with someone in their music department about my client and his situation.  I put them all together and am really hoping that something solid comes out of this.

This got me thinking about the power of networking in our business.  Over the years, publishers have come to me for recommendations on people they should interview for jobs and I have not hesitated to recommend those who I think are qualified and appropriate.  And, of course, as an agent, it is networking that gets me to the right editors and publishers for my projects.

Historically, I haven’t seen a lot of networking  among the various segments of the writing community.  (Sure there are cliques – but these are small and not always effective.) That, however, seems to have changed now, and I think this change is a very positive one.  Over the last year or two, a number of my newer clients have recommended me to their friends and colleagues and everyone has benefitted from this.  By networking, these writers are learning more about their craft and about the business and I am learning more about new talent.

In fact, I think networking is absolutely essential in this crowded and very competitive marketplace. I would love to hear about your own networking experiences.

4 Responses to The power of networking

  1. EDWARD says:

    My uncle, A. Grove Day, co-authored a book with James A. Michener. My uncle made his living writing books about another famous writer who frequently visited Hawaii: Mark Twain. When I showed an interest in writing, my family in New Jersey thought I should have Uncle Grove introduce me to Michener. Uncle Grove refused to do this, claiming that it is better for young people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps – like Horatio Alger. He never spoke to Michener, he just conveyed this message of what wise people thought.
    Uncle Grove, who was full of idealistic notions, had no qualms about writing a historical fiction about Hawaii and putting Michener’s name to it next to his own. The book of course was terrible because, well, Uncle Grove wrote it. To my lower class mentality, Uncle Grove’s 50% of the royalties was staggering. Michener’s publishers would not allow him to “co-author” a book with anyone else ever again. Apparently, it was one of the worst selling books James A. Michener ever “wrote”. Nowadays we have words like ‘networking’ to describe how one gets to meet the ‘right people’. Connections make a difference. In the end, though, either you have talent or you are just another Uncle Grove.

  2. David says:

    Networking is both very important and terribly difficult at the same time. It takes planning, time and effort to build up a network of reliable sources. Knowing just one freelance editor is not enough, because that person might be too busy. I can give tons of examples of how networking pays off, but I have noticed that among authors, they seem at times to avoid networking. Authors can be very competitive, much like runners.

    Among the indie authors, networking is huge. They often gather, share stories and advice on a large Facebook group. J. Konraths blog is a place to network, and learn. I choose two vendors based upon his recommendations at his blog.

    I have a hunch that some of this change is being driven by demographic changes. Generation X and Y are far more open to the idea of networking than Baby Boomers or Traditionalist. This is not true across the board for everyone of an older generation, and certainly some younger ones still like to remain isolated, but overall, people are more open to networking. There is a strong impluse towards personal empowerment, be it in business, or individual life, and I see networking as a part of that empowerment movement.

    It is very odd, but for actual story crafting, I have had to network outside of authors. Instead, I have found more success in workshops that are based upon creativity, or maybe bring together several different aspects of writing together into classes.

  3. Bill Lascher says:

    Had it not been for networking, I might not now be working with your agency and Jessica Papin. As you know, I met Rebecca Lerner (whose Dandelion Hunter is about to be published) at a journalism event here in Portland. Just previously I’d identified DGLM as an agency I’d like to query. Through Rebecca I was able to convey my qualifications as a writer and, happily, my proposal was passed along to Jessica.

    I came very close to not attending that event at which I met Rebecca. Had I not done so, I wonder if I’d be in the middle of what so far has been a productive and helpful pairing with Jessica.

    Meanwhile, I love this idea of the importance of networking to independent authors. That’s something that has happened in other arts for quite some time. Beyond recommendations and other quantifiable elements of networking, the act of strengthening community between creatives has many intangible benefits in broadening the sources from which we can draw inspiration, support, and friendship.

  4. D.C. DaCosta says:

    I’m wondering…
    Successful “networkers”, it seems to me, must be an outgoing bunch. It also seems to me that the average writer is more of an introvert.
    How to bridge the gap…?

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