Whether you’re looking for a new job, pitching a book idea, or marketing a business, your networking efforts will go a lot further if you start small, says Frank McKinley, a published author and writing coach.
“Your message is going to meet a specific group, and the more specific that you can make it, I think the more effective your message will be,” says McKinley, 54.
You will make “more impact with a firehose than a sprinkler,” he explains.
“If I’m here and there and everywhere trying to do everything, then that’s like using a sprinkler to share my message, my gifts, with the world,” he says. “Whereas if I just cut it down to some things, maybe one thing, that I really care about, and put all my energy and all my emotional labor to that one thing, then that’s the firehose,” he explains.
Plug yourself in where it matters
Don’t waste time and energy networking with too general an audience, says McKinley. “Be real specific about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for,” he says.
The people you need to connect with will depend on your unique situation. Maybe you’re an unpublished author trying to network with fiction writers, or an undergrad trying to get into law school. The first step, says McKinley, is to figure out who exactly you need to connect with specifically.
“Where will I plug in and just give my best effort? Because I’m invested in it, I care about this, because this is what I know about myself, and this is where my gifts are, and this is really the best gift that I can give to the people in my life,” he says.
Leverage social media groups
Once you know exactly who you’re trying to connect with, a great way to reach them is on social media, says McKinley. He says Facebook and LinkedIn have thousands of niche networking groups.
In 2017, McKinley started “Tribe Builders Network,” a Facebook group for writers to promote each other, he says. The group currently has about 220 members.
These groups don’t simply share information, he says, they help each other. He says the writers group has “share days” where people can share their work and help each other by sharing on their own social media platforms.
“It’s not just about me,” he says, “it’s about what we can do for each other, and I think that’s a great way to network.”
Get out and meet like-minded people in your community
Social media isn’t the whole world. It often pays to volunteer with a local group or attend events where you can meet and get to know people in your niche, McKinley says.
“Have the same kind of conversation face to face that you would have if you were thousands of miles away and had to do it in a chat room or something, or in a personal message,” he says.
A Better Way to Network
- Be specific about your audience: Make sure you know exactly which people you are trying to attract.
- Use social media groups: Social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have thousands of groups you can join to meet like-minded people. If you can’t find a group for your niche, consider starting your own. Don’t just share information; use the group to connect with others and help each other out.
- Try to meet like-minded people: Join a local volunteer group or organization where you’re likely to meet people in your niche.
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