Sunday, March 8, 2015

Networking: Would doing it Any Other Way Seem Less Desperate?

I spent the first half hour of my morning writing session looking to network. I know zero people (I am literally a social hermit) so “social networking” involves desperately searching for people who may have common interests online. Worse thing about networking is that finding people is supposed to be the easy part. After all, there are hundreds of freelance writing groups, blogging groups, and writer support groups. I just click the join button and allow the influx of media to wash over me. This has not previously been a successful strategy for me. Maybe I pick too many groups.  Maybe they aren't the right groups. Whatever the reason, any serious attempts at networking usually result in me completely unplugging from net for months at a time.

I've done the blogging thing before. First I wrote a personal journal on and in the wake of the livejournal vs fanfiction / mass deleting of accounts, I left that platform and moved over to insanejournal. Doing this was awesome for my personal blog because it forced me to act and talk with the larger livejournal community and the eventual insanejournal community. For the better part of a year I had fifteen or so internet friends. The insanejournal gig couldn't last. People swapped over to dreamwidth(?) or lost interest in writing/blogging. I suppose that's around the time facebook, youtube and other new forms of social media started becoming more mainstream. I think a lot of them left or refocused their energy on these newer models. After all why write with friends when you could face to face talk? My own account slowly went dark as all the people I used to speak to winked out and I could write in a vacuum on my own pc without ever publishing.

I very briefly tried a photography business and a blog with zero success. I have some natural talent in composing shots, and my ability to edit is respectable. I have very little in the way of technical terminology or logistic advice. While my pictures are lovely and I have quite a few amazing shots, writing wise I have nothing to offer this community.

I ran a Mary Kay blog when I was trying to sell it. I wrote (and never published) more posts about how the promotion techniques were troubling, the product was limited, or how terribly these women treated other women. My puff pieces that made it on to the blog were acceptable but lacking in real heart. Also, they were way too long, instead of trying to appeal to one group, I worked on appealing to all groups in one long post—not a smart strategy. What's most surprising to me is that my three page posts somehow garnered 69 page views.

My most successful blog was a personal religious one I wrote. This one has/had a lot of potential. My networking roots were good. I was knowledgeable and passionate about the material. I wanted to reach out and participate in the community and I had some people reaching back and participating with me.

The first problem here is that I am too verbose. I wrote 5-10 page posts, and these final posts were edited down from 20-30pages all single spaced mostly a wall of text. It takes a lot commitment to write that kind of work and even more to read and respond to it. I was posting, but by the time I was getting my thoughts out, they were no longer timely.

I started to get the impression that a lot of the people I was working with were there to increase subscription and page ratings and not to discuss or actually dig into our faith. Once that thought blossomed, I could see how the language in a lot of the posts was intentionally inflammatory to force response. Even people in the scene who were bridge builders and unity champions, had posts which seemed to be there just to generate greater page hits. I might have struggled on writing my mini-novel posts, but I was too disheartened by the nature of the conversation along with the length of time it took me to respond to push on.

So present day what have I learned from previous blogging forays?

  1. Keep it short 500-1000 words. This is a HUGE challenge for me.
  2. Keep it current and regularly updated. I have updated daily in some of my past blog projects and they were hands down the most successful at reaching out. While I am one person and I don't want to over produce as that can be annoying on someone's feed, I also don't want to be bumped off the page views either.
  3. Controversy will happen naturally. I don't need to troll internet rage to be seen, and if I do, I probably don't have anything worthwhile to say.
  4. Be authentic, people have always seemed to respond well to me, and I need to trust in that.
  5. Network, Network, Network! What I need is a support group of people, reading, commenting, and possibly connecting me to work. I have skills that make me a great friend to have. I'm a good editor. I'm very passionate about projects I take on, and I have diverse interests/ knowledge base to work from.
  6. My base is very limited but it might be time to reach out to friends and family.

What about you? Are there any tips on how is best to network? Are there any thoughts on the best way to make friends/contacts? How do you like to reach out? What was your most successful networking experience?