Networking. It's a tough job. And it’s a job that sometimes, though very beneficial, doesn't feel like it counts for much. After all, as my "punny" husband so kindly pointed out, there's only one little letter that turns "networking" into "notworking."
I'd like to think that this work of finding people with similar interests to not only be friends with but become fellow blog followees, has helped me with my writing career; one that could potentially pay me a few dollars. As of now, it's all free; all my time and energy isn't compensated for. So in order to feel like I'm doing something worthwhile, I prefer to think of my time spent networking without pay as an internship; the whole paying-my-dues-before-I-get-paid thing. And not as “not-working.”
What I’ve found, through all of this networking, is that the friends I make (through Facebook, Twitter and the like) don’t join my list of “friends” as just another friend. They all count as friends; as real friendships. Yes, I have to spend time to make friends. And the old adage we heard growing up “in order to have friends, you must be a friend,” is relevant in this case too.
While I can’t know everyone like I know my true best friends, I understand that this friend-making isn't wasted time. They're friends whom I trust and rely on for help and they’re all from the online world. Without them, I couldn't have gotten this far; I'd never have had the nerve to take that step of faith and get my writing out there. The friends I'm following are in my best interest so that I can not only learn from them, but help them too. And hopefully, I’m their friend for the same reason. If not, well, that’s their problem.
Having a following of people who like my blog can't hurt a future in writing either. That’s a given. Unless, of course this following finds out that I really can't write. Then the answer is no, I’ll never have a career in writing, and now I just have a bunch of friends like me with common interests. But, that’s not exactly a bad alternative reaction to my endeavors, is it?
Everything I've done up until now -- reading, researching, seeking friends, mentors and like-minded writers or readers -- has taught me copious amounts about my career and field, especially from authors who've already been there and "done that." And if all I net are friends, then that's still time well spent.
Just because I’m not paid for this “work,” doesn’t invalidate it. If I trust my talents and time as productive and focus on the things I feel led to research, then I can learn from it all. "What is the answer then?" I hear you ask: Work your hardest, be a good friend, and you’ll reap a harvest when the season arrives. And think about this (written by the wise-writer Solomon) the next time you might think your networking is a waste of time: “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23, NIV). Get busy networking.
For me, I’ll continue to network while I blog/write. But I’ll also stick to my day job, or rather, my husband’s job, as most of my writing and taking care of the kids -- last time I checked-- is still salary-free.