Why Networking is Marketing (And It’s a Lot of Fun, Too)

My #1 piece of marketing advice?  Network.  And, by network, I don’t mean friend 10,000 people on Facebook and spend all day on Twitter and LinkedIn, but really work hard to get to know people in a real way.

Now that I read back what I just wrote, I realize that it sounds kind of shallow to talk about getting to know people in a real way as a tool to market your book.  But that’s not what I mean.  I mean that by working as a partner with other authors, speakers and bloggers, you can build relationships that are mutually beneficial and market your book in the process.

For me, I had to start small.  When I got my book contract, I wasn’t some big-shot reality TV star, multi-contracted author or well-known blogger who had automatic name recognition.  I’m just a stay-at-home mom from Texas.  And as of a year ago, I had no blog, no Facebook page, no Twitter account and no following whatsoever.  So I had to start from ground zero—which is a daunting place to start when you have a book hitting the shelves within a few months.

But as I started to feel my way around the interwebs—reading other author’s blogs and making friends on Twitter—I was surprised to find this amazing network of authors, writers, speakers and bloggers who work together to support eachother’s work, encourage each other, offer advice and even market for each other.  And as I got to know the people in this network—through reading their blogs and following up via email and Twitter—I realized that this relational network was a lot bigger and more powerful than the number of radio interviews I could book or press releases I could send out.  These people were passionate about writing.  And reading.  And about helping other authors out.  And since I shared similar passions, I knew that these relationships were key to my book’s success.

So, how do you network in a way that builds mutually beneficial relationships? Here are a few of my tips:

1.    Set aside 30 minutes every day (I know your busy, and I KNOW it sounds like a lot of time, but it’s important) to read other people’s blogs and write comments on the posts.  I look at this as my way of getting to know the passions, likes, dislikes and personalities of my online friends.

2.    Buy books—and lots of them.  Some people have a Starbucks habit, but I have a Kindle habit.  I spend way too much on books—especially books written by my online friends.  I buy them because I love reading—but also because I want to support the people who support me—by recommending their work to my friends and writing Amazon or Good Reads reviews.

3.    Don’t make it all about you.  It’s tempting to say things like “If you review my book, I’ll review yours” but that’s not always the mutually beneficial thing to do.  Do nice things for other people regardless of what they can or will do for you.  It’s not all quid pro quo in marketing.

4.    Meet your online friends in real life.  I went to lunch with Nancy Williams a few weeks ago and we schemed all sorts of fun ways to market both of our books.  I’m heading to the MOPS conference with Joanne Kraft and Kathi Lipp in a few weeks.  All of these opportunities to get to know other authors, speakers and bloggers in a real way are opportunities to develop mutually beneficial relationships.

5.    Don’t only pitch your book when you’re speaking or at an event.  Whenever you go somewhere where you have the opportunity to sell your book, bring along a few books by a few of your friends and sell them as well.

6.    Reach out.  Be a friend.  Help people out.  And, when the time comes, they’ll be more than willing to help you out, too.  It’s kindergarten logic in action—but it works.

Question for you: Have you found that the online network of speakers, authors and bloggers has helped you in marketing your book?  How?

13 Comments

  1. Erin, you know what? I really believe this has been the number one way I’ve been able to get the word out about my book. When you give your time, efforts, and service to others, you make a connection with people.

    I’ve discovered that people I’ve helped along the way have contacted me on their own to see how they can help me in return. People have been great!

  2. GREAT post, Erin. There is such a learning curve with marketing, networking, publishing, and the likes. It’s always helpful when other authors can give insight and share what works for them.

    Thanks!

  3. What an insightful post. I know it’s true that when we are open and generous in real life, it comes back to us in spades. It makes sense that marketing a book works that way, too.

  4. This is a great post. Every writer must accept that he or she will have to sacrifice a portion of writing time in order to self promote, once you’ve signed that contract. The GREAT thing is, you find it’s not a sacrifice after all! Having a share in meaningful networking will enrich your life, and give you the opportunity to enrich someone else’s. :)

  5. Great advice Erin, and a good reminder to focus on others and value the work they do. I am going to get on some blogs right now!

  6. Love this Erin! Great advice!

  7. Hi Erin,

    I love the happy, giving tone of your helpful post.

  8. It’s funny how right you are, and also how much more I appreciate and enjoy reading other people’s blogs, now that I know the effort that goes into them! Especially all of us with children hanging off our elbows while we try to write!

  9. It is all about who you know. Connecting on Facebook and Blogger is great because I learn so much about other writers. After getting to know them, my favorite part is learning about the experiences they’ve had along their path to publication.

  10. It is all about who you know. Connecting on Facebook and Blogger is great because I learn so much about other writers. After getting to know them, my favorite part is learning about the experiences they’ve had along their path to publication.

  11. I enjoy trading books with other authors and then trading reviews on our blogs (as we did). That helps get the word out very inexpensively for all parties.

    Two things have really made the difference for me:
    1) People who believe in the book and push it for me.

    2) Speaking engagements, such as church retreats, etc.

    Both of these approaches require … networking.

    Great post.

  12. Terrific review! This is truly the type of post that needs to be shared around the internet. Shame on the Bing for not positioning this blog post higher!

  13. I read you in Daily Guideposts and recognize your loving Christian spirit in your blog posts, especially this one about marketing.

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