16 Essentials to Build an Effective and Helpful Network

by Gina Burgess

Good networks are actually good relationships that help build your business. Too often people look at Facebook buddies and blogging buddies as acquaintances, not as relationships. In reality, these people may forge relationnships closer with you than your child’s teacher or the person sitting next to you at a meeting.

Birds share the lead when flying in formation. No one has to take the full burden all the time. The reason is rather simple. Relationships are built on the give and take of sharing. The same with internet relationships. You share something, she shares something, he shares something and you all are able to see what motivates and drives you, what you are passionate about.

Internet relationships are built on the same foundation that face-to-face relationships are built. Trust. People do business with those they trust. Building your network takes some time and takes some patience and takes some guts to share what is important to you.

Therefore…

Here are 16 essentials to building a trustworthy network that will work for you.

  1. Brand your name and keep adding regular content to social media – make your name synonymous with what you write about such as Stephen King = Horror.
  2. Accept the risk of stepping out – here’s a quick tip: Some people won’t like you no matter who you are or what you stand for. Let that kind of response roll off your back like water on a duck. Remember what’s important. God chose you to write what you are writing so you only need to please Him. Amen?
  3. Start networking in a safe place such as Authors Community Fellowship Forum – You will find likeminded authors available to talk/chat about anything. Get to know them. Then build that relationship that will help both of you.
  4. Give your real name, and say the name of the person you are talking to – It is kind and it helps you remember that person’s name. Be real and expect real in return.
  5. Build credibility by asking and answering questions. – So very often what you write to one person helps five others, too!
  6. Listen!
  7. Encourage others.
  8. Keep in mind you are building relationships not keeping score – It doesn’t really matter if you have 1,000 followers or a million. What matters is getting to know those who are willing to share. Each person on the internet has an average of at least 200 followers (I don’t really know how many, I just pulled that figure out of the air), people who are willing to listen specifically to him or her. Each one of those 200 people has at least that many who are willing to listen. Spread that around and you’ve got an internet garden of highly, fertilized plants that bear great fruit.
  9. Reveal yourself and your values – Seriously, you don’t want a lot of folks that do not have your values who have a lot of followers who do not have your values in your network. You want likeminded people following you who love what you write and are willing to share it to others with likeminded values.
  10. Ask for help but also offer help – One of the best things I discovered in my years of news reporting/editing and blogging is that people love to help when asked. At least most do. Asking opinions is right up there with asking for help. It gives readers a sense of who you are and that you are more like them in reality, or rather you each have a commonality on which you can build a relationship. That creates even deeper commonality, and commonality creates a comfortable sense of relationship.
  11. Never expect something in return – Give help, but don’t expect anyone to pay you back. That kind of thinking promotes pressure, and pressure does not seal relationships; it is more likely to blow them apart.
  12. Find a Wingman then expand your networks together – This is one of the best parts of building a network. Finding that person who has the same values, likes most of the same stuff, laughs at your jokes, and has the same mission as you = promoting books and writing. What could be better? Networking together. One person cannot write enough books to keep her own following busy all the time. Two people cannot write enough books to keep both their followings busy. But two networks are better than one. Three networks are not easily broken.
  13. Study your passion.
  14. Share your passion – Share your research with your network. What is an interesting fact you’ve discovered that you want to put in your next WIP? Share it. Ask opinions about it. Ask if anyone knows anything else about it. That gets people talking and that helps to build relationships and that helps build your network.
  15. Follow up! – Someone asks something, someone says something, someone drops a comment, follow up with an answer. Answer every comment, use the commenter’s name, share a little about your experience with whatever is under discussion. This is crucial to building relationships.
  16. Try to learn something interesting from every person you meet – Learning something from others is a link is building commonality.

Why is this better than being in a Facebook group?

Most of the same stuff mentioned here goes on in Facebook groups, so why is a network better? People in a group come and go, groups have rules that you have to follow, there are no guarantees that others in that group will share with their network what you share in the group. Of course, there are no guarantees your own network will share, but it is definitely more likely especially when you ask them to share.

Do you have an essential that you use to build networks that is not listed here? Please share it. Is there one of these that you already do that hasn’t worked all that well for you? Please share it with us.

Gina Burgess is Authors Community COO, author, editor, illustrator, and grandma.

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22 thoughts on “16 Essentials to Build an Effective and Helpful Network”

  1. Excellent article, Gina. Social media has been around much longer than the Internet. We think it’s something new because it’s so easy to connect with others on the Internet. We’ve had databases since the first telephone book came out listing people’s names, addresses, and phone numbers in our community, but instead of calling perfect strangers and asking them to connect (who would do that), we have profiles, private messaging, likes, comments, shares, and it’s easy to make connections.

  2. I did publish a book in 2013 with John Hunt Publishing, Circle Books, UK. It is called, “A Fruit-Bearing Spirituality” and is based on my Doctoral research but made accessible for the average reader. My Doctorate is: Doctor of Professional Studies (developing a spirituality praxis within a multidisciplinary organization). It was with the International Center for Work Based Learning, Middlesex University, London, UK. It is based on 4 years of Participative Action Research within a Charity in which I worked as well as being one of the founders. The need was to research an authentic and sound understanding of an ecumenical, eclectic and healthy spirituality within the center which was based on the Arts, Environment, Disability and Spirituality. It was a center which offered short term residential care for Disabled People and Carers, set within 350 acres on the edge of Poole Harbour, Dorset, Uk.
    It is not about church, religion or theology. I believe that it is still very relevant, or even more so today since the field of spirituality has proliferated and mushroomed into anything and everything but anyone who perhaps doesn’t have an adequate foundation or oversight/supervision.
    I would appreciate any suggestions anyone may have about on-going marketing or ways to get the book and its understanding more widely known. It is not a money-making venture but rather a passion on my part to be helpful within the field. There are some disciplines which have embraced “spirituality” for various reasons. Some are fundamentally informed and some are not. There are some Universities now which offer an MA and Doctorate in the field of spirituality as distinct from Theology. They are mainly in the UK with a few in the USA. Any comments would be appreciated.

  3. These are awesome suggestions if you have a time machine and can travel back to 2005. If not then blogging is a waste of time (massive). You can social network you name to death and the return on it will be so very very small. They have been writing this same article for years selling the dream of self publishing. Want to succeed? Write something good, offer it to the world, then write something else (new not book frigging 2. Another lie is that trilogies make u look more important, they don’t).

    1. Hi Frank,

      Well, these are networking esssentials. Networking with other authors, not readers. You don’t have to rewind to 2005.

      Why do you think I keep preaching about networking with other authors? Why would any author want to do more marketing work than necessary?

      When you network with just one other author who writes the same genre as you, AND you combine your efforts in promotions and promote each other’s books — you are not doubling your work. You are streamlineing your efforts and reaching twice the number of readers. That is what you want, correct?

      That is if you want to sell books. You can spend money, sure. Purchase ads and get results if you choose correctly. But having someone else to buddy with takes the pressure off.

      These tips that I listed will help you find, become friends/build relationships with other authors who have networks and want to work smart, too.

      Fact: On average most authors sell 250 books or less.
      Fact: Most authors get discouraged when they don’t sell more that 100 books.
      Fact: You can’t sell a lot of books if you have not written a good book.
      Fact: There is no magic formula that will sell you book.
      Fact: Trilogies do not make you look important. Trilogies should be designed to sell the Book #2 and Book #3 — BUT they still have to be well written and a good story.
      Fact: Nothing will take the place of writing a good book. Nothing.
      Fact: Jerry Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, James Patterson did not sell a book until said book was a very good story, well-written, professionally edited with a professional book cover. Period.

  4. Hi Gina,

    I put networking in the basket of organic growth, which suits my style of writing and belief about how I grow my readership. Readers who connected with me via other writers, because we share a love of similar genres, are now strong fans. We chat online sometimes, and we interact. Interaction is what it’s all about, whether F2F or online.

    A good article. Cheers, Susanne

    1. Susanne that is exactly what I strongly believe happens when we build relationships. I’m so delighted that your networking WORKS!! Thank you for that testimony.

      Here’s another testimony:

      I started networking with other authors in a Google+ group called Christian Authors. It’s where I met Tom and several other authors. For whatever reason (I don’t remember now) I left the group. A few years later, I got an email from Tom telling me about this great idea God had given him. I immediately saw the vision and wanted to be part of it. That Idea and Vision is Authors Community today.

      Great things happen when we work at building relationships online. It absolutely happens when we are honest and faithful with each other online. We might not be able to bring a pot of chicken soup to a sick, online friend but we certainly can be encouraging, share our wisdom, work at keeping in contact, share laughs/joy/troubles/crying jags and it never matters if we cry ugly, ya know? 🙂

  5. I have a number of authors I am in contact with. I have found other authors are most helpful and willing to give advice. The ones I know are invaluable to me.

  6. #11-13!! YES. All of these suggestions are relevant. Thanks for sharing these, Gina! It takes time though to notice a difference. It’s a slow burn as an Indie author but you only get what you give.

    1. This is so true, Lisa. There is literally no substitute for the chemical catalyst that make batter into a cake, and there is no substitute for time, presence, and effort (catalyst) to build relationships.

  7. This is a fabulous list of “to do’s” to build relationship and support one another. Just was AC is all about.
    We need fellowship, but in a truly different way to the World’s way. By connecting with others who love Jesus, we can fellowship together, and work together, and build one another up. Ps 133, 1 Cor 3:10)
    Thanks for this, Gina. Now how do I – and we all – extract ourselves from the world’s pursuits to book sales and bond together to get our work known to those who need it most?
    Blessings, Sarah

    1. Most excellent question, Sarah! I guess we need to do what Tom is doing and set aside each day for certain pursuits. If we have a lot of pursuits, I guess we need to separate the days into half-day pursuits. We absolutely do need a different way to fellowship than the world’s way.

  8. I especially like #11. We do reap what we sow, but if we help only with a view to getting help back from that person, it will turn us sour. I remember the wife of a political candidate telling me that her husband had worked so hard to help another man, only to be told, “I still can’t vote for your party.” On the other hand, we had a speaker at church, a Christian man who speaks and advocates not only on behalf of persecuted Christians, but of all who are persecuted for their beliefs. What a rich ministry!

  9. Gina, your article is absolutely priceless. Thank you for writing it. There are times in life when one needs a bit of a ‘kick in the you-know-what’ to keep going. I am at a point when I like to give up, but I can not do that because my readers rely on me to learn what happened in the second part of my life. Since my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” went through 90 countries I have been asked time and again “…and what happened then?” I only wrote about the first 30 years of my life, of which ten were under the Nazis growing up, ten under Communist rule (not much different!) as a teenager, and after a daring escape nearly ten in the capitalist west. It’s almost four years now – am I too late to publish my memoir about the rest of my life? Emigrating to Canada, marrying an (unknown) pen friend with a daughter, the trials and tribulations of the first ten years and then coming into my own, creating a business, traveling the world lecturing, finally divorce and losing almost everything – except myself. I am at the halfway point. My biggest problem: To find the right title. Right now I am working with “Flight into the Unknown” /subtitle Trials-Tribulations-Triumph. I try to avoid ‘immigration’ since there so many immigrants. But that’s how this book starts, my emigration to Canada.

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