There are many definitions out there of what it means to be an introvert. Shy, reticent, and quiet are words that people often use to describe introverts. Others define introverts as those that turn inward mentally or that gain energy by spending time alone. However you define introverts, one thing is clear: being an introvert can be advantageous. In fact, some of the most famous writers, including J. K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Emily Dickinson, and T. S. Elliot were or are introverts.
One challenge of introversion, however, is that networking can be difficult. So what do you do if you don’t want to step too far out of your comfort zone? Well, for one, you might be tempted to not do any networking at all. But is this a good idea? No. If you want other people (besides your family members) to read your writing, then you need to network.
Social Media Is Your Friend
There are some very effective ways writers can network without stepping too far out of their comfort zones. Using social media is one of them. On social media, you can be by yourself. The worry or fear of being around other people, especially ones you don’t know very well, disappears. For writers and introverts, social media networking is a win-win since you can do it in the comfort of your home. Here are a couple of ways to use social media for networking.
You’re probably already on Facebook, so why not join an online writing group? Simply get into your Facebook account and type “writer” in the search box. If you’re looking for a more specific group, such as one for indie authors or historical fiction writers, put those words in your search box and see what comes up.
Once you find a few groups that pique your interest, figure out how helpful each group will be for you. When you click on one, you can see how many members the group has, a brief description of the group, and the activity level of the group. If it says, “0 posts in the last 7 days,”you’ll probably want to steer clear of it. Once you find a group that fits your needs, click “join.” You can always leave a group if you choose to do so.
If you can’t find the perfect group, but you do know some other writers, you could create your own Facebook writing group. This works especially well if your fellow writers are spread out geographically and you still want the ability to connect and share ideas.
Also, consider creating your own professional Facebook writing page and inviting your friends, family members, and fellow writers to like it. To do this, go to the drop-down menu, click on “Create a Page,” and fill in the appropriate information. Once your page is set up, you can invite all of your Facebook friends to like your page. Once you’ve done that, post quotes about writing, links to writing articles that you have read, and funny or inspirational memes about writing. If you blog, you can also share your posts on your Facebook page. You should update your page as often as possible, and at the very least, once a day.’
Other Social Media
Other social media networking includes commenting on other people’s blogs. It’s also a great idea to have a blog of your own. You should follow other writers on Twitter and respond to their posts. While there is no magic formula that lets you know exactly how many people you are going to connect with on social media, there is advice on how often you should post in order to increase engagement. For example, social media experts recommend 15 tweets a day on Twitter and updating your blog at least once a week.
When commenting on blogs, always use correct spelling and grammar, but you also don’t want to come off sounding like a know-it-all. You want to engage and connect with others, not have the opposite effect. Using social media consistently and correctly will get your name out there, and before you know it, you’ll have a virtual following of your own.
Besides networking through social media, you can also join social networks that are geared specifically toward writers. These networks allow writers to receive feedback, brainstorm ideas, and gain exposure for their work. Some of the best ones include WritersCafe, The Writing Room, and Goodreads.
But what if you’re an introvert that is intimidated by social media? Maybe you’re a private person who doesn’t like to share over social media, or you get too overwhelmed by it. Even though many people use social media to share intimate thoughts and feelings, you don’t have to. Set boundaries on what you do and don’t share over social media. Also, if social media is too overwhelming because it never seems to go away, you can limit your time on social media. Set a time to turn off your phone for a few hours each day to enjoy some quiet time with no interruptions. Again, it’s all about setting healthy boundaries.
Physical Writing Groups and Conferences Connect You With Other Writers
If you want to find other ways to network, there are other options out there. As an introvert, it’s probably safe to say you don’t like large groups of people, or you have a hard time making friends. If so, joining a small local writing group might not be as intimidating, especially if you can find a fellow writer, or any friend for that matter, to go with you the first few times. And who knows, joining a small writing group might turn out to be a less anxious way of making a few like-minded friends.
A few great places to look for a local writing group include your local library or your favorite coffee house. You can also check with area colleges and universities. If you don’t have much luck in any of those places, simply do a Google search for writing groups in your area.
If you do find a writing group, it might not be a good fit for you. Maybe only fiction writers make up the group, or maybe they don’t have similar ideas and goals. You might have to attend a group a few times before you can discern if it fits your needs. If you can’t find a group, try organizing your own writing group.
It’s also a good idea to bring a buddy along to writing conferences and workshops. It’s an added bonus if you bring someone that’s not afraid to walk up to new people and make introductions.
If you can’t get yourself to join a writing group or attend a conference, you can do some things that are a little more one-on-one: for instance, meeting another writer for coffee on a regular basis. Just remember, when you do meet new people, be sure to ask a lot of questions (it helps to prepare questions in advance), use your listening skills, and always be sure to smile.
Networking Challenges Can Help You Get the Ball Rolling
If you’re really ready to step out of your comfort zone and start networking, you can do your own networking challenge. The first step involves meeting with a few people you know really well at least a couple of times a month. These people might include good friends or even family members.
After you become totally comfortable with that, take it up a notch and meet with a few people, including co-workers or others that you don’t know very well, a couple of times a month. These people don’t necessarily have to be writers, but it is an added bonus if they take an interest in your writing or want to share their writing with you. Once you’re really ready, try to engage with a few new people at least a couple of times a week. This could be something as simple as asking the cashier at the grocery store how their day is going. You might wonder how a writer benefits from doing this kind of networking. The answer is, you simply never know when you’re going to meet a fellow writer, someone to help you with editing, or a new reader for your blog or next book.
It is hard to be an introvert. However, push yourself, get out there, and let others know about the talents and skills you have. And if nothing else, think of your writing as a gift that you need to share with the world.
Are you an introverted writer? If so, what are some of the effective ways you go about networking? What things about networking do you like the most or dislike the most?