Reach out and touch. Networking is more than your net worth, it’s the connection that is worth much more.
Have you heard the adage about networking? It goes something like this, “your network equals your net worth.” A friend of mine, the great speaker, Richard Hardon, can easily motivate you to reach out to others to help you succeed to greater heights using that phrase. Without a doubt, he is right about that. But, I get something else from what he teaches, too. I understand that networking is something even more valuable than your net worth or its ability to open doors to increase your income. I get that networking is important because it allows you to connect in so many ways. For instance, during networking, you realize more intimately that you are not alone in your endeavors or your struggles.
For instance, a few months ago I was asked to share some self-publishing advice with a writers’ group in South Atlanta. If you are on the southside and want to join this vibrant group, they are called The Turtle Queen Author’s Club. The Turtle Queen is Pauline Mansfield who has written several books, two of which on how she survived domestic abuse. Ms. Pauline is a very charming woman whose heart is the source of her network. She hasn’t met a person that doesn’t instantly fall in love with her. Many of the writers in her group had been published traditionally and self-published, and many were seeking insight on the mechanics of writing and publishing. But, it was a sharing event that increased the value of their minds and spirits. Mine, too.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I attended a book club in midtown. I found it on Meetup and since it was sponsored by the Black Lit Society, a very active organization founded by author Tamika Newhouse, I thought I would check it out. Tamika is a young powerhouse. Having authored and published 19 books, she owns a publishing house, a production company, a book club and book review website, and is the founder the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC) Awards held every year to highlight the achievements of African Americans in the literary world. Tamika attended this event and shared her life’s successes and failures along the way during her exciting career. Again, in attendance were not just readers but writers and aspiring writers looking for that small crumb of motivation to keep at it, not giving up on becoming a writer. Ms. Newhouse was very easy to chat with, very open, and relaxed. I don’t think anyone walked away without some form of encouragement. What I walked away with though was something more than the networking value of hearing and seeing someone else’s success, but in comparison where I had not succeeded. I won’t use the word failure, because that I did not do that overall, fail. But, I didn’t succeed in moving forward with my writing and publishing as she did. And, that had been my dream as it had hers. You see, the lesson I walked away with from her networking event, was not to quit this time. She and I had attended our first ever book conferences in Houston, Texas years ago, exact event. At the time, we both had only one book. Yet, for me after spending hard-earn dollars on several book conferences later, I no longer believed that I was going to make it in the business, so I quit. She didn’t. She kept trying until she got it right. I stayed in my career and kept earning a paycheck. She worked for herself and built her empire.
Yes, networking with the right people will put you in the right position and afford you the right mindset to uplift your income, your net worth. But, overall, it’s those networking eye openers that uplift the soul as well and that net worth is priceless. So writers, get up from your computer, walk into the sunshine, and get into your car. Go meet someone new. Maybe they will increase your value to the Universe.
I kept asking myself what value will this provide. Shortly after I arrived, I began to network naturally with other attendees patiently waiting to be let into the event.
As I weaved through traffic or should I say as cars weaved around me on my way to attend Creative Con at Atlanta’s Auburn Research Library, I kept asking myself what value will this provide. Shortly after I arrived, I began to network naturally with other attendees patiently waiting to be let into the event. The first person I met was there to learn how to get published and the second person was like me, already self-published and aware of the mechanics of how to get a book written and into production. As soon as the event began, I realized many of us were there for the same reason, looking for the details on how to sell your books and the mechanics of reaching your target audience. Some of us already had a foothold, an audience, but also a desire to spread our voices wider. So as Tamika Newhouse, the founder, and creator of this conference, gave us a glimpse into her world and her vision to share her successes, we sat eagerly at the edge of our seats for the nitty gritty about the writing life. Soon after the event began, the answer to my question about the day’s value was answered. I walked out of Creative Con with three pages of notes. That may not seem like much to some, but the value in those almost illegible scribbles and some fuzzy pictures of PowerPoint are all there as I ponder putting them into action.
What did I learn? The first thing I learned was that I was not off base in my efforts to introduce everyone to The Sperling Chronicles. The second thing I learned was that there are many voices just waiting to be heard by the masses and the statistics of those thousands of self-published books had faces behind them. The feeling that our faces teetering on the edge of a cult, a society of those who need to be heard, to teach, to entertain, and to share had this universal, spiritual pull rising in the rooms. But, most of all I learned that networking with other writers, picking up tips from each other was as valuable as what the speakers taught us. One of the speakers, Mary B. Morrison, author of 26 books who is signed with Kensington Publishing, gave us hope that we, too, can become full-time writers. Other speakers gave us insights on social media, branding, marketing, and even the personal style and image we need to present to the world. All of it was worth my Thursday. There is more to come this weekend, but unfortunately, I can’t be there. You should check it out if you can! Remember, whether you make it to any of the Black Writers Weekend events or not, and no matter who you are, “don’t quit.” WRITE ON! WRITE ON!
Dilsa Saunders Bailey, author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to write out loud and share her journeys in the self-publishing world. The third novel in The Sperling Chronicles, No Tears for Dead Men, is now available in Print and on Kindle.