Friday, October 26, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened....

when I met up with some writers in a forum.
We were all chatting away, exchanging information and someone we didn't know walked right in and asked for editor information from us without introducing themselves.
Ok, writers, this is going to be a lesson in online networking today.
Those of us who either started in business, or have some business background, learned in our former lives about the value of networking. It used to be that we would attend sometimes stuffy, and oftentimes, boring mixers. There we would be, trying to balance a plate of appetizers and a drink, while fumbling for business cards - if we met someone we wanted to exchange them with.
Today, however, more writers find themselves mixing in online chatrooms and forums and exchanging contacts on linkedIn. I'm usually casually drinking my coffee in the morning or eating my lunch while reading what my fellow writers have to say, and chiming in when I have something to contribute.
But more and more, I'm seeing people who obviously don't know the first thing about networking or manners, for that matter.
It's become a pet peeve of mine, especially, to be in a writers forum where I've long become comfortable, and have someone no one knows pop in with a question - especially if it pertains to obtaining contact information on an editor.
"What's the biggie?" you ask. "Isn't this why someone joins a forum?"
Well, yes.
And no.
Imagine this scenerio. You're at one of those stuffy networking functions in the prehistoric 1980s, before anyone knew what the Internet was.
You're standing around with a plate of those appetizers, talking with a group of colleagues you know.
Someone no one knows walks up to the group and without even introducting themselves, says,
"Excuse me. But I would like to write for xx publication. Will someone hook me up there?"
Get my point?
In the worst case scenerios, it hasn't been unheard of for a complete newbie on these forums to obtain information from a seasoned writer and start their query by saying,
"I know you work with XX and she referred me to you." The seasoned writer only learns of this when the editor makes an assignment on the seasoned writers "recommendation," only to find out when the assignment goes sour that the seasoned writer didn't "refer" them at all, they only were trying to be nice and shared an email address.
Networking is an art. It requires you getting to know people, and people getting to know you. Once you introduce yourself and you are getting to know each other, then networking is also about sharing. And that means you also giving your knowledge - as well as obtaining information. And, even if you are new to the biz, you can always find something to contribute.
The same rules applies on online forums as they did back in the day when we met in person. So, if you show up to an online forum expecting to just receive, don't think we're the jerks when we don't give.
Look in the mirror, and learn some networking manners.


Blogger Lori said...

AMEN! It's as bad as those who post questions like "Who's the editor at XX Magazine?" or "What's the capital of South Dakota?" Don't be so freakin' lazy! It's not on us to do your basic research!

Great post!

11:06 AM CDT  

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