Monday, August 24, 2015
Making Connections When You're Not Good At Making Connections
So, I am really, really terrible with names. It's kind of embarrassing. It takes me a good few months to get to know more than a couple people in my local church group, and often even after a month of knowing someone it takes me a minute of panic before I remember their name. Then I worry I'm getting it wrong. And don't even get me started on birthdays.
This is something I want to get better at. But not just to avoid those "Oh hi skldhg" moments. Being good at remembering people, and a natural ability to make connections, can be a tremendous asset as a writer. In so much of this business, as in any other, a lot of it comes down to who you know. Still, though, being a good networker isn't natural for everybody. I'm not necessarily shy, but I'm ridiculously bad at social follow-through.
So. We writers who want to make connections but aren't super great at doing it...what's to be done?
1. Learn to say yes. Here's what I mean--maybe we're not great at connecting with people and forming those strong networks, but random opportunities come along all the time. This is our chance. Say yes. Because we might not be great at creating our own networks and opportunities, saying yes is a way to get in with people who are great at it.
I'm thinking about this because this morning an email went around to the people in my grad program (eeeeee I start next Monday and I am so freaking excited!!) about getting volunteers to introduce writers who come for a weekly reading series during the semester. I jumped on the opportunity, and now I get to introduce Ron Carlson in October! (I said the prayer last time he visited BYU...we're becoming good buds.)
2. Use lists and calendars. Now that you've said yes to a connection or opportunity, then what? This is where people like me really struggle. How do we make these chances more lasting, rather than flash in the pan type situations? Well, there's no shame in making name lists. We have great tech for doing just that. You could even make a networking calendar (hmmm, maybe I'll do this myself) and put things like, "tweet to so and so this day" or "email a follow up to this person" or even "send a thank-you note to this person." That could come in extremely useful.
Those are the strategies I'm going to try and employ to make up for my lake of natural networking ability. For those of you out there who might be super good at this, what suggestions can you give me? What are your top tips for making and keeping great connections?
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