Armchair BEA: Networking…In Real Life?!
Design credit goes to Nina of Nina Reads
Today’s topic for Armchair BEA is “real life” bookish networking, whether it be community partnerships, book signings or a book blogger meet and greet.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not the world’s greatest networker when it comes to book blogging. I have no partnerships with booksellers in the community – I didn’t even really know that was a possibility…. I don’t own a library card and haven’t yet visited my local library. (Of which I’m deeply ashamed since it’s only two blocks from where I live.) I’ve been to fewer than a handful of signings – and none since last year’s Armchair event – and I’ve only met one blogger in real life. (Hey Jaime!)
I had planned to attend BEA this year, but that didn’t quite work out. And I am planning on attending ALA in Anaheim in a few weeks, where I hope to meet quite a few of my fellow bloggers, but my attendance to that event is not a guarantee either.
I have many excuses (some which are quite legitimate) for not being active in my local bookish community – lack of transportation, lack of time, lack of local book blogger friends. But the reality is I am a terrible networker. I don’t like to “sell” myself or anything else for that matter. I never have. I passed up a career I was pursuing for that very reason.
So, believe it or not, I’m much happier when curled up in my armchair reading my Kindle than I am talking about myself and trying to promote my blog. And the idea of trying to do that in the real world is not something I’m overly comfortable with.
So while I loved the signings and events I have attended, I could still never imagine trying to promote myself at any of them. No matter how many tips and tricks I may know about networking. And while at one signing I may have mentioned that I was Fiktshun, at all the rest I didn’t.
Yep. So creating this post has been more than tough since I have no real life book blog networking experiences to share.
So… I thought I’d share some of my non-book blog networking tips I’ve learned over the years that I think will apply equally well to bloggers.
DO be professional. If you are representing yourself as a reviewer and blogger, make sure to act as you’d like to be perceived by others in the community.
DON’T be pushy. Offer up your details, offer to leave a card. But don’t interrupt. Make sure the time is right to introduce yourself. (Ladies room meet-and-greets are always awkward.)
DO the research. If you are going to an event, gather the info about the authors or publishers you may be meeting. If you want someone to know who you are, be sure to know who they are first. Go armed with knowledge.
DON’T make it all about you or what you want. Networking is about mutual relationships. They’re not one-way streets.
DO understand your audience. Nothing is worse than making others feel uncomfortable. While sharing overly personal stories can help to forge a bond, they can also be TMI. Find the right balance.
DON’T cop a ‘tude. Whether you feel you’re being left out of the conversation, ignored or otherwise not treated equally, don’t let it show. People will remember the sullen, unfriendly person who grumbled about things not being fair.
DO take a risk. If you’re at an event or signing, introduce yourself. While you or your blog may not be recognized, if you continue to make those connections – in real life or online – your name will start to stick.
And DO let the conversation dictate your approach. It won’t always be the right time to promote yourself or your blog. Be sure to listen. If there’s an appropriate opening, take it. If not, let it go. There will be other events or other chances to introduce yourself. An after event tweet or email saying it was great to meet someone is more effective than forcing an introduction at an inappropriate time.
That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head at this late hour. Common sense stuff, I suppose. But you’d be surprised at the number of people in the business world who treat networking as their own personal platform.
And since I should probably share something bookish, even though it isn’t networking-related, I have to say my favorite signing was the Lisa McMann and Katie Alender signing at the local Barnes & Noble back in early 2011 with surprise guest Kami Garcia. Lisa McMann was a riot and Katie Alender was awesome! And it was the very first signing I went to after I started blogging. So it will be forever memorable.
See? It was a LOT of fun! I just wish I was a better photog….