Guest post from author Lisa M. Lilly
Member of the WLC
Member of the WLC
Networking is a word that gets used a lot. During my eight years at a large law firm, the attorneys were encouraged to network. Just the word made me uncomfortable. Probably because no one really explained how networking worked, other than it was supposed to be a way to get business. Preferably business that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars. I didn’t know anyone who could send me that kind of business, and even if I had, I didn’t know how to ask for it.
Then, three years ago, I started my own law practice. A business colleague, Laura Clark, who is also a financial advisor, asked how she could help me. Not by selling me anything or by convincing me to invest (I will likely never in my lifetime earn enough to be Laura’s client), but by introducing me to other lawyers who’d started solo practices and could share what they’d learned about everything from where to find office space to when to hire staff to how to build a client base. Laura also invited me to social events she hosted. Through her, I met the woman who is now my corporate attorney, the graphic artist who designed the cover of my novel, and at least one close friend. At nearly any business-related event I attend in Chicago, I run into someone who knows Laura and whom she’s assisted in some way. That’s how I learned what networking really means – looking for ways to help others. While I’ve never been able to directly benefit Laura, I support causes for which she advocates, and I try to do what she’s done for me for other people. Once in a while, those connections lead to business for me, other times not. Either way, I enjoy the people I meet and feel happy that maybe I’ve helped someone else toward a goal that matters. Plus, the way I look at it, you can rarely go wrong by doing right, and that’s the essence of real networking.
In the writing world, Melissa Foster exemplifies this theory. I remember seeing her upbeat, encouraging tweets about writing, reading, and life on Twitter as I tried to figure out what Twitter was and why people tweeted. (Or what a tweet was for that matter.) Because I’m also a writer, and because she seemed like a nice person, I followed her. She responded immediately by suggesting we connect on Facebook. I felt really pleased. I’d independently published a novel for the first time just a month or so before, I couldn’t have had more than 25 followers, yet she’d followed back, sent me a personal message, and liked my book’s Facebook page. When I found her blog entries interesting, I tweeted about them. I joined the on-line community for women she started, The Women’s Nest, and found wonderful, supportive people there. I tweeted about that, too, so others could find the same support. From the Nest, and through Twitter, I learned about the WoMen’s Literary Café, and signed up on one of the authors’ lists. I’m embarrassed to say I’m not completely sure what form I filled out or whether I even properly completed it. I was definitely in a learn-as-you-go phase with on-line communities, marketing, and social networking.
A month or so later, I sat at my laptop one night, wondering what else I could do to promote my writing. I’d sent emails to my business connections and had good beginning sales. I kept up my blogs, which I love writing regardless, and occasionally saw sales I assumed came from there or Facebook. But sales had stalled. I felt discouraged. How to get my book in front of people? How did authors get to do blog tours or be interviewed? Like magic, a direct message from Melissa appeared on Twitter. She said she’d been watching my tweets (not in a stalker-like way, she assured me), had looked at my book, and wondered if I might be interested in participating in a mystery/suspense/thriller book launch with eight other authors focused on launching Andy Holloman’s new thriller, Shades of Gray.
After an exchange of email, I agreed to take part, and a whirlwind of meeting other authors, tweeting about their books and mine, blogging, and learning how to use things like the video conferencing on Google plus began. It was overwhelming at times, and Melissa and the WLC were always there to answer questions and provide encouragement. When I told friends what I was doing, a few asked why I would spend so much time tweeting about other people’s books. How would that help me? I didn’t know exactly how it would work, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong helping out a community of writers. Because that’s what I found in the WLC. A community of people who love to read and love to write, who are working hard to get their books out there, and who generously share their time and experience.
As it happens, the launch did help me by increasing my knowledge of marketing, my sales, and my Twitter following. My thriller even briefly appeared on one of the Kindle best seller lists. I wouldn’t even have known – I didn’t know enough to check – but Stacy Eaton watched the listings, and Melissa Foster sent me congratulations. Imagine how thrilled I felt!
My best guess is my tweeting and Facebook posts about Melissa’s books, the Nest, and the WLC have, at best, added a tiny fraction of members to the sites and followers for Melissa. Certainly, she couldn’t have looked at me and said, hey, there’s someone who is going to really do a lot for me. Yet she helped me learn because that’s who she is and what she does, and that’s what the WLC is all about. And because you can’t go wrong by doing right.
Author Lisa M. Lilly
Lisa ~ I am so very glad that you learned so much during the event! Thank you for all that you have done to help others - keep passing it on! Thank you! ~ Stacy
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(hosting both men and women), please visit:
(hosting both men and women), please visit:
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