By nature, authors spend a lot of time alone in our heads. It’s what we do. But, being an author is not exactly a solitary job anymore. You have to get out there and mingle to sell books. Every once in a while we see an opportunity and jump on it, but have you ever been on a rope bridge? That is how those fleeting moments feel to me. I want a more solid, reliable way to cross that cavern. That bridge has come in the form of networking.
The very first day of school I asked my marketing instructor, “How do I stand out in a saturated market?” He answered, “In a world full of barking dogs, be a cat.” Okay, so do I walk around meowing, looking for a can of tuna? All semester I have been wondering what does that mean? Then, this week two of my classes tackled the topic of networking simultaneously. And the curtains flew back letting in the light! AaHaaaaaaaa!
I’ve been studying networking all week and really thinking about how it applies to us solitary authors holed up in our office or local coffee shop doing our thing. How do you network when you are literally alone? Well first of all, you get out of the mind set about trying to sell your book to every person who walks by. I have this term I like to use called ‘carnival barking’. You can’t sell books if the people walking by hear “Step right up, I’ve got something for you to see. Don’t miss out.” Do you know how many times I get an email or a post in my feed that actually uses the words “Don’t miss out”? It’s obscene. Instead focus on building a bridge (network) to people who care about the same things you care about (brand). See what I did right there?
Don’t run away screaming because I used that word from the 50’s that brings up connotations of men in smoky back rooms with sweaty handshakes wearing funny hats wheeling and dealing. That is not networking. That is film noir and if you come across it in real life, run. It ends badly for the innocent. No, networking is much easier than you think. Let’s say it again… Build a bridge to people who care about what you care about. Network to your tribe around your brand. Get it?
So how does a person who is used to solitary confinement network? As it turns out, the answer is pretty simple. Service. You may not be a Chatty Kathy, but you know how to help people right? Build bridges and leave them up for cross traffic. For example, I write zombie romance novels. If I find someone doing research on bug out bags, or survival bags in my snowmobile group and I say hey, I know a thing or two about bugging out and help them. The fact that I write zombie novels is just a happy side note. Then when a friend mentions they love a good zombie book, the person I helped is going to say, I know a lady.
Find people you can be of service to. Solve their problems. Don’t worry about selling them a book right now. You don’t even know if they read, or what they read. Focus on being helpful. In your blog posts, newsletters and online groups, solve a problem. They WILL notice you. 50 Shades didn’t spread like wild fire because everyone stumbled across it. It spread because people were talking about it. Be what people are talking about by building your bridges.