Networking 101: Enjoy Yourself

It's been an incredible week of networking for me: I met some interesting people and stumbled upon some great opportunities. I don't know what made this week so much different from past networking attempts. I've even taken workshops on how to network, but still, even knowing the techniques never made it any more palatable. It always felt like an exercise in dry heaving. But something changed this week. I experienced an ah-ha moment, finding myself in the throes of networking and it didn't feel like work.

A few big events coming up are what catapulted me into the ring of networking this week. The first is BookExpoAmerica, a massive trade show taking place from May 29-31. It's when the who's who of the publishing world descend on New York City to meet and greet and pitch their up-and-coming authors. I've decided to attend this year because, as an indie publisher, I still have much to learn and because my debut novel is up for an award (yay!).

Since it's my first BookExpo America, I knew I needed help and I reached out to the Independent Book Publishers Association. The folks who work there, Angela, Terry and the team, are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive, and are the reason why I'm going to have some kind of presence at the show. By networking with them, I was able to anchor myself to their booth, instead of floundering around the trade show halls like a lost mouse. 


The second big event coming up is the annual conference of the Editors' Association of Canada (EAC) (June 6-8). Since I've never attended the conference before, I had no idea what to expect. To prepare, I attended an Ottawa branch meeting of the EAC, which happened to be a round-table discussion on editing mistakes, or oops moments as they call them. It was a great way to meet the group and share a lot of laughs.

At the end of the evening, I met for the first time an editor who I'd previously connected with on Facebook, and she invited me to the Ottawa Freelancers breakfast meeting the very next morning. It was a last minute invitation, but sometimes those are the best kind, and I accepted with an open mind. It turned out to be a fantastic morning, meeting other local freelancers and learning about what they do and how they do it.

I really had a great week of networking, which leaves me wondering, what made it so different from all the other events I've gone to where meeting people just felt like work? The only conclusion I have is that I found the right people who share my interests and have similar career goals. And all I did when I met them was talk and enjoy myself. I had no formal agenda or networking goal, such as passing out 10 business cards by the end of the night, something they teach you in networking workshops. But guess what? I actually did pass out some business cards and it just happened naturally, without me even thinking about it. Funny how that works, eh?

Stacey D. Atkinson is a freelance editor and author of Stuck, a novel she published via her independent company Mirror Image Publishing.

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