Does this picture make anyone else want to run back to their hotel room? Writing conferences are prime places to meet new people, make new connections, and network.
If you're anything like me, the word networking makes you want to be sick and join a convent or a monastery and take a vow of silence, all at the same time. I loathe networking. Why?
Because it is so very fake.
A typical networking experience involves two or more people striking up a conversation to figure out how best to use each other...and they all know they are doing it. It's the most shallow of conversations, everything tied to business and what-do-you-do, instead of who-you-are.
I. Loathe. Networking.
And I've discovered that most writers feel the same. It's not something any of us enjoy, so why do we continue to do it?
I stopped networking a long time ago, especially at industry events. I don't network. I don't sell myself. And I've been told not doing so will hinder my career. Why? Why would not wanting to participate in something so very plastic hinder my career?
It wasn't until I started participating in intimate writing groups that I discovered how to get real with networking.
It basically means throwing the word networking totally out <insert huge sigh of relief here> and replacing it with relationship-building.
Relationship-building? That I can do.
I LOVE relationship-building.
Getting to know someone, understanding them, traveling deeper into who they are, and never ever using small talk. And then, being able to help connect that person with another person, who I know they will hit it off with because they have a lot of the same interests, the same goals, the same sense of humor.
It's the secret reason I started Cruising Writers. Those connections we make are priceless and you simply cannot get into that deep level of connection at a large-scale writing industry event. Writing conferences are great for seeing and being seen. They're the place to give out your business cards and maybe find a few new people to follow on Twitter.
But writing conferences do not build meaningful relationships.
I'm talking about the kind of relationships that form your tribe, give you referrals, and help open agent and publishing doors. On our writing retreats, you'll meet other writers from around the world, all with a different perspective on life. You'll have the opportunity to find a new critique partner, a new support group, a new friend. You'll be able to get to know experienced, published authors who know what works and what doesn't, and are more than willing to share their knowledge with the writing retreat tribe.
That's how you get real with networking. Throw the big scary word of networking out your window on the way to a writing retreat. Focus instead on building relationships and making authentic connections and watch your writing world expand larger than you ever dreamed.