Friday, February 15, 2008

On Networking

I've been thinking about networking a lot lately, mostly because I'm starting to see results from everything I've done to promote the book. Yesterday, I was interviewed by two major national magazines. While I thought that that the book would get attention in Philadelphia and New Jersey media, I didn't think that national outlets would come calling.

My publisher is amazed by the attention the book is already getting, and wanted to know how I was connected with these writers. One word: networking.

I do most of my networking with other writers through, a wonderful subscription-only website where I have met people who do exactly what I do. Subscribers are sent a weekly market report (which is where I found the publisher for my book), and have the opportunity to meet and talk and vent and gossip on extremely active message boards. I've found a wealth of information and guidance through the writers on that site, and I don't think I'd be in freelance business today without them. Yes, I've made thousands of dollars from leads I found through, but I've also been given the encouragement and mentoring I needed to move from giving this freelancing thing a whirl to going on three years in the business.

While the site is great, and I love the input and advice from my colleagues, it's a virtual network, and that can only go so far. I felt like I needed a local group to join so I could meet more people who do business in my area. I realized this right about the time that Marilyn Kleinberg of Cruise One told that she was starting a local chapter of eWomenNetwork.

Marilyn had worked at the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, and when I was editor of SJ Magazine at the ripe age of 23 years old, she put me on a panel about how to get your news into the media. Speaking on that panel with a bunch of old war journalism vets was a big shot of confidence for someone who wasn't sure she was qualified for her job, and I appreciate all the connections Marilyn's made for me since. Plus she's a lot of fun. So I signed up to be part of the leadership committee that brought this wonderful organization to the area.

For anyone who doubts the power of South Jersey, know this: the Southern New Jersey chapter had the largest opening event of any eWomenNetwork chapter...ever. That's saying a lot about an organization that has chapters all over the US and Canada.

It also helps that it's a wonderful organization. Not only are you offered a wealth of sources and resources from the national organization, but the chapter's Accelerated Networking Luncheons are amazing ways to meet new people. This is a great way to wet your feet in the networking pool if you're naturally shy or not sure how to approach people at networking events because you are literally forced to talk to strangers -- you sit at a table and are given 60 seconds to talk about who you are, what you do, and what you need (sample script: Hi, I'm Jen A. Miller, author of The Jersey Shore; Atlantic City to Cape May: Great Destinations. I'm also a freelance writer, and my work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Psychology Today, Woman's Day, Men's Fitness and Men's Health, among others, and I write marketing and development materials for area universities and hospitals. What I need are marketing opportunities to promote my book, and I'm also looking to expand my base of corporate and marketing clients.). Then you listen to seven other women give their '60 second commercials.' Then you all get, switch tables, and do it all over again. This way, you make at least 14 connections -- and that's not counting anyone you meet in the pre- and post- luncheon networking times. I've gotten job leads, potential readers, and even interviewed people for stories I was working on -- one time right at the lunch table! I didn't know how a local networking group would help a lone ranger freelance writer, but it has been above and beyond worth the cost of membership (and, yes, men are welcome, too).

When I started out writing full time, I was hesitant to join networking groups -- who could blame a 25 year old who could barely afford the rent on a teeny tiny one bedroom apartment? But I wouldn't have made it without them. If you get one job or one customer or one client or lead out of the meeting, then you'll more than cover your costs. And that's worth networking for.

So If you're in the South Jersey area, the next luncheon is on March 7 at the Mansion in Voorhees (and you can go to two events as a guest before you join -- this lets you 'try it out' first). You can find out more information here. To find an event in your area, click here. And for more information on membership, click here.

Speaking of networking...if you're on Linkden or Facebook, I am too! Search for jenmiller27 [at] mac [dot] com and you should find me...

Digg this

No comments: