Thursday, April 05, 2007

An Ode to Writing Goal Buddies

I know I’ve written about the importance of having another writer in your life with which you can share your goals, accomplishments and rejections. It might be a whole community of writers on a forum, or better, one or two people who are in the same writing field.
I met my goal buddy, Heather, at a conference nearly two years ago. Like most of the friends I’ve met in the past few years, we had a shared interest – our dogs.
After a couple of drinks we realized we shared interest also in writing about animals and travel. I was on my first travel assignment at that conference – I had to find something new to write about in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Heather and I headed off together.
We spent quite a bit of time hanging out while in Chicago. She lives across the country, but we’ve spent nearly two years emailing and occasionally talking on the phone. We didn’t plan on becoming email buddies, but our easy friendship in Chicago translated into an easy business relationship too.
The secret to that success, I think, is like with most other business networking – we weren’t in search of a goal buddy per se, it just happened. The other thing to remember about finding a goal buddy is that you have to really like each other – in other words, you must be friends first.
That’s very important because if you see each other as friends first, you don’t view them as business competition. This is especially true if you write in the same field because if you aren’t friends, things might get a little competitive if your buddy breaks into your dream market first with an idea you had written down but had never acted upon. And yes, this did happen to us (she had no idea I had the same idea premise), but I chalked it up to great minds think alike and she’s quite a bit better (and faster) at querying than I.
Heather and I can email each other about anything we’re doing in the business and our conversational chatter about press trips, markets or whatever else we’re doing can also help one another as well. We don’t have to be knowingly giving advice.
We’ve held each other to query challenges, she even did some market research for me one day with some story nuggets I had. And I’ve helped her too by finding some networking opportunities for her with a professional organization in her area.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to us being friends first. When my mom was in the hospital, Heather sent her a beautiful card, designed by a friend of hers, of a ferry in Washington State where she lives.
My mom loved that card and kept it at eye level the whole time she was in the hospital. And we both appreciated the fact Heather thought of her, even though she had never met my mom in person.
So, a good goal buddy should be someone with whom you share business interests with, but most of all, they should be a friend. When you care about one another’s personal lives and have developed the trust of friendship, helping each other with business comes naturally.


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