We, especially in the Indie community, are always told to be inclusive. Don’t get me wrong, I am big on being inclusive. But when it comes to networking, it is a good call to be a bit more exclusive. Now, I don’t mean to shun people, by any means. But when you are looking for readers, you want the right readers who will most appreciate your book. Pitching a sci-fi adventure to a group of romance readers will almost always fall to deaf ears. So when you are networking, you want to connect with people who are most likely to help you get in front of an audience open to your books, and who will most appeal to your audience.
Be a Genre Snob
Focus on influencers in your genre. Whether that be authors, book reviewers, bloggers, or publishers, make sure they are in your genre. As you build out, you can look at genres that have a good cross-over audience (for example, Fantasy and Urban Fantasy have a good cross-over. Romance and Women’s lit have a good cross-over.)
Focus on People at Your Level or Above
At least, to start. This is the same principle as the lobsters trying to crawl out of the pot. It sounds harsh, but let’s be real. How much help can you as a struggling author provide a newbie? Not a whole lot. You have to get more than halfway up the visibility chain before you can try to pull others along with you, otherwise you are all just a bunch of lobsters trying to pull one another to get leverage, and none of you are getting out of the pot. Sarah Vermunt in 3 Reason You Should Network Less has a great point in number 2. If you’re talking to people who can’t help you, you’re talking to the wrong people.
However, if you can follow and connect with people at your level or above, follow their advice, and build up your following, eventually you can become an influencer and help build up those at the bottom.
Practice Quid Pro Quo
This doesn’t have to be literally “I do an interview for you on my blog, and you do an interview for me on your blog” or trading reviews, or newsletter swaps. But don’t find yourself in the trap of doing things for others all the time, and not getting anything back. I did that for quite a few years. There were people who were constantly asking me to do things, but when I needed something and asked there were crickets. Not cool. It’s hard to keep that balance, especially if you really connect with someone on a personal level. Always be the person to offer help to someone before you ask for a return, but also keep a mental tab. If that person doesn’t return the favor when you ask for help, don’t be so available next time. The flip side of this, when someone helps you out (by doing a review, giving an interview, etc.) be sure you do your part. Say thank you (even if you feel they left you a bad review.) Share that post on your social media pages, link that post to your blog to give them greater credibility with google. Be there when they need help. Don’t be a user, and don’t get used.
And that leads to our final tip:
Be Exclusive With Your Time
Michael Hyatt has a great podcast about saying no without feeling guilty. All the top entrepreneurs of the world say what sets them apart is knowing when to say no. It’s really hard, especially when you are low on the totem pole. You want to say yes to everything. Suddenly you find yourself overextended with no time to work on your own projects. So before you say yes to that guest blog post, that takeover event, that proofreading project, ask yourself two important questions:
1. What will this require of me?
2. Does this help me get to my overall goal? If the answer to the first question is greater than the impact to the second question, pass.
We’ve learned today that it isn’t bad to be exclusive with our networking time and energy, that we have to be careful to weigh the balance of helping others vs helping ourselves, and that it’s important to be able to say no without guilt.
Now, go get to networking, build those alliances that will help achieve your goals and your alliances’ goals. Questions about networking? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time,