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Want to stand out in your networking circles? Get involved!

Well, we took a little hiatus (short for us!) to do some much-needed work and revamping of the Write | Market | Design website. It’s not done – a good website is never done – but it’s vastly improved. Many of the broken links are no longer broken. We’ve added some depth and grit to our pages. Feel free to take a look and give us some feedback.

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Now we’ll move on to our discussion about the benefit of getting involved in your networking groups.

Many years ago, I knew a man from the same organization where we did the Hokey Pokey. Stan was a Melaleuca distributor and I remember two other things about him: (1) he publicly bitched and moaned at every opportunity about being single and wanting to meet a woman, and (2) he complained that after a year with our group, he’d never gotten any business from it. Of course, all he did was show up for the meetings 5 minutes before they started, recited his boring 30-second intro during the meeting, tried to sell the people he met on the value of a Melaleuca membership, and left 5 minutes after the meeting ended. Is it any wonder he never got any business?

About the same time, I was asked to act as greeter at a meeting for a different group. I went to the front door of the hotel where we met, greeting the guests and members as they arrived and directing them to our meeting room. A new member walked in, and I greeted her by name: “Hello, Kerri!” I don’t know who was more surprised that I knew her name, she or I? After my initial shock wore off, I realized that I knew her name because I was an officer, and part of that responsibility involved getting to know every member – even the new ones.

In Phoenix, as I’ve mentioned, there’s a TON of competition for our networking time and dollars. As a result, many groups are struggling for membership as they find themselves redundant and/or ineffective. The groups that thrive have active members who care about the mission, vision, and future of their organizations.

Most networking groups have boards of officers made up of volunteers. The better ones have regular planning and strategy meetings. Larger groups also invite non-office members to take active roles by serving on committees.

If you want to increase your visibility and improve your networking ROI, get involved in the leadership of your favorite group. Will it take time? Yes. How much depends on the specific role and the nature of the particular group. Will it benefit you? OF COURSE! You will develop leadership skills, come out of your shell if you’re the quiet type, and be visible so that all the members become familiar with you and your business. Most importantly, you will become an indispensable part of the team that makes your group function properly.

As my friend Katreena Hayes-Wood (who needs no help to come out of her shell) says, “It’s time to step in, step up, and step out!”

Well, we’re about at the end of our Author Networking series. One more post about the importance of follow-up. See you then!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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How to alienate people and lose business before you even get started

So you finally decide to follow Marcie’s advice and get out of the office to attend a networking event. You’re not much of a socializer, but it’s been a while since you’ve talked with anyone besides Shroeder, your schnauzer, and your book is due to be released in just a few months. It’s time to start building that platform and making connections! You diligently scan Meetup.com, the newspaper, and other notices about groups in your area and you think you found one that will appeal to you.

You arrive at the venue, shrug off the trepidation, and walk in to find yourself warmly greeted. Maybe this won’t be so bad, you think to yourself. You’re no sooner seated and have said hello to the person next to you, when a guy in a top hat comes out and, much like a circus announcer, commands the whole room to stand up, shouting through a bullhorn, no less. He turns on some raucous music, and soon the whole room is clapping and swaying. NO, NO, NO! you think. This is NOT what I came here to do!

OK – that’s a bit of a far-fetched scenario. But it is possible that you’ll set out to attend a networking event to meet new people and sometimes you’re invited to participate in an icebreaker activity that just seems REALLY stupid or ridiculous. Your first instinct may be to shut down, with the adamant thought: I am NOT doing this!

A number of years ago, I made the attendees at one of my business development groups do the Hokey Pokey at the start of the meeting. Really! Did people think it was silly? Of course they did. But those who allowed themselves to participate  laughed, enjoyed it, and wound up talking about it for weeks afterward!

That Hokey Pokey lesson is really the whole point of networking: Only when we put our whole selves in can we expect to see any major results. If you choose to sit out of group exercises because you think, “This is stupid,” “I’m too cool/smart/sophisticated to do this,” or “What will my guest think of me?” you’re missing out on a great chance for connection.

If you have a tough time joining in, I invite you to rethink your resistance. For one thing, you won’t be the only one looking foolish – the whole group is participating! And if you watch them, I’ll bet you see that they’re having fun. By sitting out, you’re demonstrating that you can’t relax and just let loose for a while. Sure, sometimes these group exercises just outright flop. But even that can be an opportunity to shine: Instead of being the first one to blame the organizer, be the first to offer your support. They will remember and appreciate you!

A great deal of business success involves stepping out of your comfort zone. If your next networking event presents you with such an opportunity, I challenge you to take it! You may  be pleasantly surprised at the eventual results.

Our next topic in our Author Networking series is about the importance of getting involved in the groups you join.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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Networking success secret: Be memorable!

There’s an old adage about business: People do business with folks they know, like, and trust. Actually, there’s an item missing from that list. A more complete way to think of it is: People do business with folks they know, like, trust, and REMEMBER!

When I was in college, I had a great memory. I would see someone on campus and remember that they had sat two desks over from me in a large history survey class three semesters ago — and I’d often remember their name. What I would give for that memory now! Of course, you may have a much better memory than I — perhaps you remember everyone you’ve met at every networking event for the last two years. But IF you don’t, what are the chances that you’re one of the few people that others remember from those same networking events?

How many people do you honestly remember once the introductions at an event are over? If you’re bored during that unending parade of uninspired intros, the thing to remember is that boring cuts both ways. I had a grade school teacher who used to say, “If you’re bored, you’re boring!”

Remember our discussion of being engaged AND engaging?

Here are a few ideas to help you spice up your introduction:

  • Tune in to everyone’s favorite radio station: WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) Rather than starting your intro with your name and/or the name of your business, start with a question, statistic, or tip of interest to the other attendees. However, close with your name to leave a lasting imprint.
  • Tell a story. One great way to make a lasting impression is by telling a story with a hook — yes, same idea as the hook we described a while back in your media release or query letter. Most importantly, make the story relatable — something your audience cares about or has a significant interest in.
  • Sing a song. Beware — this one can work, or backfire horribly. It will work best if you can actually sing, have a thoughtful song or jingle that’s catchy and memorable, or use humorous lyrics.
  • Recite a poem. A friend of mine, Eileen Proctor, was the pioneer of doggy daycare in the Phoenix area back in the late 90s. And she is a master marketer. One of her most important marketing tools is her ability to create catchy rhymes about her business. Eileen never did a boring 30-second intro. People actually so looked forward to hearing what she’d come up with each time that they’d applaud her sales pitch — and no one wanted to follow her. You’re a writer/author — can you come up with an intro with zing?
  • Be funny. We’ve already mentioned funny, because it works. Provided you still get your own mention in there. Don’t get so caught up in your story, joke, or funny tale that you forget to mention yourself and/or the name of your business.
  • Wear a standout hat/shirt/coat. I’ve known my personal trainer friend Scott for almost 10 years, and I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen him in pants, and those were usually jeans. He wears his training gear, emblazoned with his logo, everywhere he goes — including networking events. It also helps that he’s funny and will usually ask people to get up and do a couple jumping jacks as part of his intro. How can you model this idea to get your fellow networkers to participate with you?
  • Have a startling call to action. “Just for today, members of XYZ Group can visit my website to download a free copy of my latest eBook.” If you write on a topic of interest to them, might that get their attention?
  • Use call-and-response to involve the other attendees. As we’ve already alluded to, when it comes to being memorable, one of the best ways is to involve the audience. One easy way to do this is to create a call-and-response. Dolly Kennedy, namesake of the Dolly Steamboat which operates on Canyon Lake in  Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, has a memorable personal brand. When Dolly walks into any networking event in the Valley clad in her formal Victorian hat, dress, and shoes and says, “Hello, everyone!” she immediately receives a robust “Hellllllllloooo, Dolly!” from the crowd. Because she’s trained them to do that. Will the one person new to the group remember her? You bet!
  • Have a memorable tag line. It is possible to create a tagline people remember, particularly if it’s combined with a physical motion that reinforces it. Self-defense guru Mike Hayashi is another person with a distinct personal brand. Most people who know Mike will never forget his ubiquitous tagline: A woma’s place is in control (accompanied by a nifty martial arts move). Like Dolly, people have so come to expect it from him that when he doesn’t do it, they demand it of him. Can you imagine people demanding to hear you repeat your tagline for them?!

Most importantly, when it comes to being memorable, you must be sincere. Whether you opt for a funny song or a startling statistic, be sincere when you  introduce yourself and attempt to connect with new people. And remember: clever is good for your public 30-second intro, but you’ll want to tone it down when you meet someone one-on-one at a mixer. Can you imagine having a plumber break into a his Plumber’s Rap as you’re shaking hands with him?

In the next post, we’ll discuss why it’s OK to be silly in a network environment.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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The art of referral networking

A few years ago, I attended a networking lunch where I encountered a woman (I cannot even say I “met” her) who, upon arriving, literally threw her cards down at every place setting. I happened to be seated next to her, so I was one of the few people there she actually spoke to. Her first words to me were, “I’m a real estate agent, so if you know anyone who needs to buy or sell a house, refer them to me.” Seriously. She never said, “Hi, my name is Sally and I’m a real estate agent…” She never said please. She did ask for (demand) the business, but in the most boorish, unimaginative way possible. I don’t think that business card even made it out of the room – I threw it in the trash at the first opportunity.

If anyone were to value learning the proper way to give and receive referrals, you’d think it would be someone in a highly competitive industry like real estate. However, I’ve encountered bad networkers in many industries, so perhaps it’s more a case that Phoenix-area businesspeople in general often receive no instruction in how to best represent themselves.

As promised, today we’re going to talk a little bit about the best way to give and receive referrals. Generally when we think of referrals, we’ve got business on the brain. You and your best friend own a Greek restaurant and co-wrote a cookbook. If I’m thinking a typical referral, my mindset is, “Who can I send to eat at your restaurant or buy your cookbook?” But there is such a thing as a referral that doesn’t actually involve buying or selling anything. How did my client who wrote the World War II romance learn in great detail about 1940s wedding dresses? The Google can be helpful for research – but do not discount the solid benefits of talking to a living, breathing expert! Personal referrals can be invaluable when introducing yourself to a stranger.

Here are some important considerations when it comes to making the most of referral networking:

KNOW WHO YOU WANT TO MEET. Regardless of the kind of referral – expert, book buyer, reviewer, or prospective client – as we explored in the last post, the first step is knowing who you want to meet. That requires that YOU know this essential information, but also that you convey it properly to the people who would make referrals to you.

LET OTHERS KNOW WHAT YOU’RE UP TO. A significant aspect of successful referral networking simply involves letting the people in your circles know how they can help you. Unless you tell them, people won’t necessarily know that you are looking to build your platform as an author and/or speaker, that you’re looking to build your business, or that you are undertaking a new research project.

In the early days of my business, my work was primarily editing and my business was aptly named Words Made Easy. It’s a clever, catchy name (except for the “ee” that occurred in the Web address) and worked well for me for a while. Until a few things happened: (1) I began to realize my author clients had spent a lot of time and money to create great books but didn’t have a clue how to market them; (2) I began to branch out into marketing, consulting, and speaking; (3) I began to think of myself as so much more than exclusively an editor; (4) someone first said to me, “I didn’t know you taught blogging and wrote media releases.” Time for a name change to Write | Market Design and, more importantly, time for me to do a better job at letting others know what I do.

TEACH OTHERS HOW TO REFER YOU. Just as I was surprised to hear people say they “didn’t know I did that” about my business, you might be surprised to learn how few people know or understand precisely what you write and/or who you want to meet. Therefore, it’s incumbent on you to teach them. For instance, I know a man who wrote a book about job search that has been off the market for almost a dozen years because it doesn’t have any references to the Internet. His primary business now is getting vets back to work, but he has lots of skill at job search across the board. Do you think he’d turn down a non-veteran client? Of course not! But if people only think of him as working with vets, they may not think to refer empty-nesters, new college grads, or other job seekers to him.

TAKE SOMEONE TO COFFEE. The best way to teach others how to refer you is not in a quick moment amidst the hullaballoo of a networking event, but in a quiet meeting where you each have time to speak and share in a focused way. You won’t do this with every person you meet at every networking event, but for those with whom you sense some simpatico and synergy, it’s a really good idea. Natural pairings might include a book editor and a graphic designer; a jewelry designer and an image consultant; a personal trainer and a chiropractor; a plumber and an electrician.

TEACH THEM WHAT TO LISTEN FOR. In this face-to-face meeting with a prospective referral partner, besides explaining who, specifically, you would like to meet, you have the opportunity to prime them for keywords or phrases that indicate such a person. For instance, a life coach might want you to listen for people discussing divorce, career change, or sending their last kid off to college. Think about it a bit. What keywords would be indicators of the kinds of people you’d want to meet?

REMIND THEM TO CONNECT WITH YOU. As such an automatic aspect of our day-to-day interactions anymore, it’s rather surprising that we still need to remind our referrers (and those they are referring) to check us out on our social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Here’s a good place to remind you, however: Don’t post anything in these places that you wouldn’t want prospective clients/readers to see! I’ve made the decision to be open about my politics on my social networks because it’s very important to me. But I know the risk inherent with doing so. Someone in sales might be more inclined to keep their politics to themselves. I get that. Think before you post so that nothing will come back later to bite you.

MAKE THE INTRODUCTIONS EASY. Use your common sense when referring someone to a businessperson you know. Generally speaking, the person looking to build the business is going to take more initiative than the person looking for the service (unless, of course, you’re locked outside your house at midnight with the alarm blaring). Perhaps the very best way to make an introduction is in person, but that’s not always practical. So, rather than hurriedly handing someone a name and phone number, what’s the next best way to do it? Make a mutual referral. This involves having contact info for both parties. You can then write an introductory email to both individuals, or call each of them and provide details about the other person.

This is just a tiny overview of the practice of referral networking. Done properly, it can be a HUGE boost to your business or the growth of your author’s platform. There are entire programs developed around the practice, so if you want to learn more, I encourage you to do your research and take that next step.

Next, we’ll explore practical ways to make yourself memorable.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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Since I can’t meet everyone, who DO I want to meet?

I’m willing to bet that if you’ve attended even a handful of networking meetings, you’ve heard (or perhaps uttered) the two most dangerous words one can use in a networking environment: Anybody who. Yet we come across it all the time: A good lead for me is anybody who _______FILL IN THE BLANK_______.

LIFE COACH: Anybody who wants to improve their life.

ATTORNEY: Anybody who wants to file a lawsuit.

REAL ESTATE AGENT: Anybody who is looking to buy or sell a home.

AUTHOR: Anybody who reads XYZ genre.

The problem is that we’re NEVER looking for anybody who anything. At least we shouldn’t be. Why not? Well, if I were a life coach who gave my client homework, but he refused to do it, I’d probably get a little frustrated because my dear client would be working against his own interests. Likewise for a legal client who ignored advice, a real estate client who had unmanageable expectations, or readers who kept insisting a certain author write something else.

One of the organizations to which I owe a debt of gratitude for my professional success is a group called Shared Vision Network. Even the name offers an indication of how this group was different. Life moves on, though, and the group has disbanded, but boy did I learn a lot from my participation in it. One thing we all became very proficient at was identifying our ideal clients. It even got to be a bit of an inside joke. You could always tell the new person in the room during the 30-second  intros, because almost inevitably they’d say “I’m looking to meet anyone who…” Immediately, the rest of us would shake our heads and kindly teach the newbie why we want to be more specific in our thoughts and intentions.

We need to dump the “anybody who” outlook and drill down to discover who we really want as clients/customers/readers. Then we must teach the others in our leads/networking groups exactly how to refer business to us. Be more specific about whom you’d like to meet by mentioning things like:

  • Age
  • Geographic location
  • Income
  • Marital status
  • Parenting status
  • Pet owner status
  • Hobbies
  • Education level

As we’ve mentioned in past posts, when it comes to building your platform — which leads to selling books
it’s essential that you identify the things that make someone an ideal reader for your particular brand of writing. Will you meet this precise person at every networking event? Unlikely. However, you can plant the seeds in the minds of others who might know this person.

In our next post, we’ll discuss precise strategies for giving and receiving referrals that work.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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A case for author networking — INFOGRAPHIC

Back in May, before the Author Blog Challenge got underway, I did a post about infographics and declared my intention to explore this popular new communication tool. I finally had some time and decided to apply the infographics technique to our ongoing conversation about the benefits of networking to authors.

Is it the  best infographic ever created? Probably not. Is it a solid first attempt? I’d say so.

I used a program called infogr.am for the formatting, but relied primarily on Photoshop to create the individual components of the infographic. Also downloaded a new toy called Inkscape, which I played with briefly but did not use for the creation of this image. It’s a free graphics program that looks like it will be a nice ancillary tool to use in concert with Photoshop.

Here’s the thing. I’ve never been trained in graphic design. A friend upgraded and gave me his old, outdated copy of Photoshop eight or nine years ago, and I taught myself, a little at a time. Here’s a hint: LAYERS are one of the most crucial elements to understand when you’re starting off. I play with graphics because I enjoy it. It’s a nice creative outlet that is often useful in my work.

If you want to try your hand at an infographic — or any kind of graphics, for that matter — a free tool like Inkscape can help. If you want to use infographics or need help with your book cover design and have no interest in (learning to) doing it yourself, there are tons of hungry graphic artists out there who are eager to work with you. Visit elance.com or guru.com to interview experts of all skill levels and fee ranges.

OK. Break’s over. Next up, we’ll be talking about how to decide whom you want to meet at your next networking event.

Laura

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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Choosing the right networking event, group, or organization

One undeniable fact every author must face is the reality of the clock.  Twenty-four hours in a day; seven days in a week. Somehow, we have to fit it all in. So, I understand those who say they just don’t have time for networking. I also believe where there’s a will, you will find a way to make time. But if you live in a large metropolitan area like Phoenix, you can’t possibly attend every event. In fact, I just checked the Networking Phoenix site and counted 42 — YIKES, FORTY-TWO! — events scheduled for next Tuesday, a date on which Valley of the Sun Express Network, one of my member groups, is hosting its monthly meeting.

That’s a lot of competition for your time, energy, and money!

But Laura, just a few posts ago, you told us that your rule of thumb has always been that I can’t really begin to expect to see results from a group until I have attended long enough for people to miss me when I skip a meeting. If I can’t attend every meeting, how will I determine which ones to start with?

A fair question, indeed, my astute SBMs!* Time to put on your common-sense thinking cap and do some analysis. First, it helps if your community has an awesome site like Networking Phoenix, which has all the events aggregated for you in one place. If that’s not the case, you’ll have to do some research in your local paper (The Business Journal is a good source, if your town has one), online, and by asking around to the other authors and businesspeople you already know.

Then examine the components that will help you narrow down your selection.

PRICE. First, it helps to determine a monthly or quarterly networking budget. While free events like mixers can yield plentiful results, I would strongly advise making plans to pay for at least a couple events a month — but only you know what you can realistically budget for networking.

LOCATION. In some areas and/or communities, distance is not such a big deal. In the Phoenix Metro area, which covers nearly 1,000 square miles, distance can be significant factor in deciding on whether to attend an event and/or join a group.

TIME OF DAY. Some business owners I know prefer to network in the morning, because it leaves them free to do business the rest of the day. Many Phoenix-area groups seem to schedule lunchtime events, which make people-meeting easy but can tend to disrupt the day. Then there are no end to the mixers and cocktail hours which take place in the evening hours. Perhaps your schedule changes from day to day; so select the meetings that best fit your interests and work within your calendar.

OPEN/CLOSED GROUPS. Though you’re going out with the intention of meeting new people to grow your brand and your platform, it’s always a nice thing to attend events/groups where you already know one or two people. Some groups are closed, meaning they require that guests be invited by a member, while others are open and welcome all new people, regardless of how they come to the group. If there’s a closed group to which you’d like to be invited, it’s time to scan your LinkedIn connections and start expressing your interest to existing members of that group.

LEADS/NETWORKING GROUPS. There are a few important distinctions between a leads group and a general networking group. Most notably, the first goal of a leads group is to pass leads. They do this most successfully because they almost universally limit membership to one person from each industry. Additionally, every member is expected to refer business to others in the group BEFORE referring business to anyone else they may know who does the same kind of work. For instance, say your cousin is a real estate agent and you also have a real estate agent in your leads group. One day, your husband tells you his boss is looking to sell his house and asks if you know anyone. Your duty as a member of your leads group is to refer this business to your fellow leads group member before (or perhaps exclusive of) referring them to your cousin. Leads groups tend to work well for highly competitive industries, like real estate, insurance, and financial planning. I’m not  certain how useful an author would find them.

Networking groups, on the other hand, tend not to limit membership by industry. Leads happen within them, but organic networking (as opposed to the specific passing of leads) is the primary focus of these types of groups.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT GROUPS. Different still from networking groups, business development groups place a certain emphasis on teaching and/or enhancing their members’ business skills. They often feature speakers at their events and may also offer workshops or other opportunities to grow your business skills. Most also usually dedicate a portion of their meeting time to personal intros/networking.

AUTHOR/WRITING/PUBLISHING GROUPS. Depending on where you live, writing/author/publishing groups may be plentiful. In the Phoenix area we have the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers (formerly associated with the National Society of Women Writers), Arizona Book Publishers Association, and Arizona Authors Association, to name a few of the more prominent ones. As we discussed earlier, the benefits of attending groups like these are numerous and include things like spending time with others who share your passion, sharing tips and tricks of the trade, developing your knowledge of the publishing process, and sharing professional resources like editor or graphic design referrals.

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. These might be industry-specific groups, like the American Association of Office Nurses or the Financial Planners Association. They might be religious groups like American Christian Writers or those affiliated with particular denominations or houses of worship. They might be ethnically affiliated groups like Irish Networking Phoenix. They could be civic groups like Rotary or the National Organization for Women. If you have a specific interest (beyond writing and publishing), there’s probably a group out there for you somewhere. And if not, there’s probably someone else waiting for somebody to start one — maybe that somebody should be you! A good resource for researching and locating almost any kind of association is the Center for Association Leadership website.

SPEAKING ORGANIZATIONS. If you’re serious about growing your platform and you are not already an accomplished public speaker, Toastmasters should be one of the first groups you join. With 280,000 members participating in 13,500 clubs located in 116 countries around the world, it’s a good bet there’s a club near you. Not only will Toastmasters give you great practice at speaking in public, but it will also help you develop two essential L’s: listening and leadership. Additionally, it’s great networking! The Phoenix Book of Lists, published annually by The Phoenix Business Journal, consistently ranks Toastmasters as one of the top ten networking groups in the Phoenix area. On a personal note, of all the groups I’ve joined over the last 10+ years in Phoenix, some of my closest and longest-lasting friendships have come from my Toastmasters club.

If you’re already somewhat accomplished as a speaker and really want to move your speaking career forward, you may want to consider joining the National Speakers Association, which has 47 chapters across the continental US.

MEETUP GROUPS. Then there’s Meetup.com. The people who came up with this concept are pretty smart cookies! Meetup is the world’s largest online network of local groups. Their website makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities every day. Whether it’s writing/publishing, personal development, stamp collecting, or hog calling, chances are you can find a Meetup near you on your specific topic of interest. And if there isn’t one, the site keeps a tally of those who’d be interested in joining one if someone — why not YOU? — started one.

The fact is that the only way you’ll know whether a group is for you is by visiting it. If you like the people and the energy, go once or twice. Try out a few different groups before you decide to join a formal organization that requires paid membership. And once you do join, make it a priority to attend your new group’s events.

By the way, though it’s thorough, this is NOT an exhaustive list. If you know an aspect of networking groups that I’ve overlooked, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Next up, we’ll discuss setting goals to meet particular kinds of people at your next networking event.

Laura

*Savvy Book Marketer

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There’s still time to get in on our 10-week program: SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AUTHORS. It starts Sept 5 and goes for 10 consecutive weeks. Sign up for single classes or pay for all 10 and receive a 25 percent discount. Week 1: Facebook Fan Pages (9/5/12); Week 2: Twitter (9/12/12); Week 3: LinkedIn (9/19/12); Week 4: Pinterest (9/26/12); Week 5: SlideShare (10/3/12); Week 6: YouTube (10/10/12); Week 7: StumbleUpon (10/17/12); Week 8: Ning (10/24/12); Week 9: Blogging 1 (10/31/12); Blogging 2 (11/7/12).

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