June 6, 2012

Armchair BEA: Networking IRL

Banner by Nina @ Nina Reads
I've started and restarted this post, because I am not sure what to say.  I've met people in real life after meeting them through this blog and I've done true networking in real life for the blog.  But I'm not sure I have any great advice aside from, "Get out of your house and talk to people.  Go to a bookstore, a library, anywhere you stand in long lines.  You'll find other readers."

I tend to be shy when I first meet people, so I like to carry around a laminated card I got from my friend and former roommate S.  I do not know who wrote it, but it was produced by the Business Honors Program at UT-Austin.

The front reads:

Introducing Yourself

In 30-60 seconds, talk about your:
  • Education and how you entered the field
  • Skills, strengths, and accomplishments
  • General job focus and possible future career plans
The back reads:

Making a Good Impression
  1. Use direct eye contact and a firm handshake when introducing yourself.
  2. Listen attentively, and acknowledge what you have heard.
  3. Show genuine interest.
  4. Find out what you have in common with the other person.
  5. Close the conversation.
  6. When appropriate, follow-up with a phone call, email, or card.
I think the making a good impression instructions are straightforward and easy to apply to meeting fellow bloggers, authors, publicists, and other publishing professionals in real life. The introduction section, however, is geared toward business and getting hired rather than blogging.  I still think it works.

How?  You should have a quick, minute or less introduction ready for you and your blog.  What do you write about?  Who is your audience?  How big is your audience?  What do you want to feature on your blog in the future?

Here's a simple version of what I usually say: "Hello, I'm [Real Name] and I write the blog In Bed With Books under the name Liviania.  I review young adult books, although I sometimes cover other books that I love."  I stop there if talking to another blogger.  To a publishing professional, I add something like,  "My audience is mostly twenty and thirty-year-old professional women.  I have over a thousand subscribers through Google Friend Connect and FeedBurner and approximately 200 page views a day."  After you introduce yourself, let them make their introduction.

It is extremely important to be honest.  At the Texas Library Association conference in April, I spoke to many non-young adult publishers despite running a young adult blog.  Why not?  I am interested in books I never post about here and it's fun to talk to people about the books that get them excited.  But because I was honest, I found books that were relevant to the blog that I would never have found on my own.  Don't try to lie about who you are and what you do in order to appeal more to someone else.  Chances are that who you really are could be exactly who they're looking for.

Just be cool.  I like to carry the card around because it reminds me that almost everyone struggles with networking.  It is awkward to forge a connection with someone in a couple of minutes.  But it's easier if you're prepared, direct, and calm.  (Also, I dress fancy because it makes me feel more confident.)


  1. I think this is a great way of introducing yourself. I haven't really met too many publishing professionals, and the only time I met a lot of bloggers was BEA. But it's always good to have this in mind for the future.


    1. I haven't met any either, but I like being prepared.

  2. I have "The seven commandments of Teacher-Librarians. Kind of the same thing. A good reminder of what's important. Great ideas. I need a card like that.

  3. I think that is a great way to look at it. You need to be personable and really put your best self forward. It will open so many doors :)

  4. "Just be cool." Easier said than than done when you're a spaz like me. But good advice!

    Thanks for stopping by my Armchair BEA Networking Post!!

    1. Believe me, I am a very awkward person. That's why I think it through first!

  5. These are some good tips. Especially for someone like me who usually freezes up when meeting someone new. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. You should def go to a Books of Wonder signing sometime. It's really nice there.

    1. I just have to make it to New York first!

  6. Hey, a fellow Texan. I'm glad to see you experienced TLA. I'm not able to go these days but I have made it a couple of them and they are fantastic. I also managed to pick up quite a few books.

    I love your quick intro piece, too. Good idea.

    1. I just wish I had the money to attend the talks as well as the exhibits! But talking to the librarians and everyone else there was great fun.


  7. This is excellent advice. It is so simple, yet it is so easy to forget in the moment. I love that you carry the card with you as a reminder!

  8. I excel at the awkward turtle lol. I think that this is some solid advice. I blog under my first name but I would thoroughly enjoy getting a kick out of introducing myself to someone and blowing their mind at the pronunciation. 25 years and its still entertaining to see the double takes.

    Okay so that was a little off topic but it was just where my mind wandered off to :) Thanks for the advice
    Leila | The Fiction Pixie

  9. This is a great post, and relevant for every day life, too. I like to think we can even use it online, just in casual conversations. Oh and your comment about dressing fancy? Preach on! I dress as nice as I can to instill confidence too. It really helps when you feel like you look good!

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only fan of fancy dress! And yes, it can be used online as well.

  10. Great post! I could use a card like that.

  11. Professional attire sounds like a very good tip. Its hard to take people seriously if they are in tank tops and flip flops. And if the goal is to chat up publishing or publicity people, its definitely good to look the role.


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