6 Tips for Successful Networking

NetworkingWhether you’re a writer, a publishing professional, or in any other job or field, you’re probably going to be networking at some point. These days we do a great deal of networking online; but there are still the old-fashioned ways of building networks: face to face. You may be at a conference, a cocktail party, or industry event where you have the opportunity to meet people who can become part of your “network.”

What are the best ways to bring people into your personal and professional networks? These tips apply to Twitter, Facebook, conferences, and every other networking situation.

1. Focus on relationships.

The strongest network is made up of real relationships. Treat people like people—not as a means to an end.

2. Be genuine.

People can tell when you’re trying too hard to make an impression or be a salesperson. Be yourself.

3. Be interested in others.

Ask questions. Show your enthusiasm for their projects and interests rather than just talking about yours.

4. Give more than you take.

Freely share information, resources, and contacts. Offer to help others whenever you can.

5. Network with long-term goals in mind.

If you’re thinking short-term (e.g. “I need endorsements for my current book”) you’re more likely to come across as needy and grasping. But if you’re thinking long-term and big-picture, you’ll be properly focused on building relationships and expanding your network of friends and contacts.

6. Promote others rather than yourself.

Always be quick to put in a good word for others who warrant it. Speak kindly and positively of other people, and use your own resources to promote them when appropriate. You’ll gain a terrific reputation as someone on whom others can count.

Using these strategies will help you build a strong network full of people who are genuinely on your side, part of your “tribe” as Seth Godin would say.

How strong is your network? Do you use these strategies? What are some other tips you can share for building strong networks?


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. This Week in Favs… | Melinda S. Collins on June 14, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    […] 6 Tips for Successful Networking by Rachelle Gardner […]

  2. http://blogs.forbes.com/scottlevy/ on January 23, 2013 at 5:08 PM

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  3. Joshua Kerrigan on October 29, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    This is a great post, I think you should turn it into a 2 or 3 part series.

  4. LJ Boothe on September 15, 2012 at 4:32 PM


    Thanks for these tips–reminders to relax and be genuine. I’m going to post them on my laptop and pack them with me every time I go to a conference!


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  8. Peter DeHaan on September 5, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    These are all great points and it is good to be reminded of them.

    I find that being a good listener and following up with meaningful questions helps me to establish a rapport with others. I think that is part of networking, too.

  9. Rebecca LuElla Miller on September 5, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I especially like your point six, Rachelle. For Christians that method ought to resonate as consistent with Scripture. Not to mention that it makes sense. If five people, or twenty-five people, are talking about a book when they don’t have a vested interest in seeing it succeed, it ought to have more impact than if one self-interested author does so.


  10. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on September 5, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    Networking’s tough for me. Now, especially…I’m trying to finish a new novel this week, and my mind is totally in the plot. Even trying to tweet is a major effort!

    When I’m not actively engaged in a large writing project, then networking’s a lot easier…but never easy.

  11. Elise on September 4, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    Thank you for this post Rachelle!

  12. Krista Phillips on September 4, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Love this post and totally agree!!! I love networking but get a little nervous, too.

    Love the note about promoting others! I need to do that more… some crazy insane thing in me is afraid that when I promote one person someone else will be like, “well, why didn’t she tweet about MY book” but I totally realize how stupid that is!

  13. Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts on September 4, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Thank you, Rachelle. Great tips. I think the first three are key, and if you are doing them, then the other three will follow. For me, number one sums it up. Remember that you are connecting with people, human beings. Respect them, value them as people, not a means to an end. The second tip is related. If you respect and value yourself as a human being (who you are, not what you are–writer, corporate executive, whatever) then you can feel free to be yourself.

  14. Carol J. Garvin on September 4, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    For me networking means developing relationships for mutual communication, camaraderie, education, support and encouragement. None of them function effectively if they’re only one-way.

    Your #1 is the most meaningful for me. Some of my most treasured friendships are ones I’ve made through the online writing community.

  15. Larry on September 4, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    “What are some other tips you can share for building strong networks?”

    Free. Chocolate. 🙂

  16. Craig on September 4, 2012 at 12:58 PM


    This is a very interesting post. I work for the Chamber of Commerce in my town, where as you can imagine my entire life is networking. So, as an author, I’ve been trying to take the same approach. I’ve got four kids (including a 3-month old) and a more-than-full-time job, so I don’t have time to join a writing group down at the local bookstore. But I could make the time for an on-line peer group. I’ve put MANY requests out on Twitter for some camaraderie, but all I’m seeing are self-pubbed authors wanting to do one thing – push their own book (over and over). Which is fine, but not helpful from a “we’re all in this together” perspective.

    I am all about networking, camaraderie, best practices, encouragement, pats on the shoulder after a rejection letter comes… So I’ll put this out there: If any of my fellow authors – published, unpublished, agented, unagented – want to set up a network for friendship, support, advice, mentoring, etc. let me know. Whatever platform works – e-mail, facebook, twitter…

    You can get me at twitter.com/CraigWTurner or facebook.com/craigwturnerauthor. Would love to connect!

    Thanks for posting this, Rachelle!

    • LJ Boothe on September 15, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      Hi Craig,

      It looks like we have some things in common besides writing. Our one mutual friend on Facebook is my cousin Brian! And I was also having a hard time keeping a crit group going, both face to face and online–people are so busy!–but here are a couple of things that have helped:

      I keep in email touch with a couple of past writing-group friends, by sending out quick writing updates from time to time. They always send back a word or two of encouragement!

      Whenever I have a manuscript, or chapter ready for alpha readers, I ask one or two knowledgeable contacts who have previously said they’d be willing to read, to be alpha readers for me.

      Then recently I discovered http://www.critiquecircle.com (through Rachelle, I think) and that has been wonderful. It is free at the basic level, well organized, and fair in that it requires give and take at whatever level you want to participate. Look me up there; I’d be happy to critique back and forth.

      Another idea is to form a new online group of four to five people. I’d be willing, and I have one other person who may be serious about it. What do you write? I write for children in the mid-grade novel and picture-book genres.


      LJ Boothe

  17. Charles Specht on September 4, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I think the key to effective networking is simply to give more than we would ever expect to receive. If we stay others-focused, rather than self-centered, we’ll be amazed at the results.

  18. Denise on September 4, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    I love your list!

    Recently I came upon a new blog and her focus that day was to invite everyone to write a blurb and add a link to their own sites. It was a big hit and I found some really great new ‘friends’ through her site. I’ll definitely go back to her site because of that experience and am thinking of how to do something similar on my own site for others.

  19. Sarah Thomas on September 4, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    My favorie way of networking is volunteering. I have a hard time sitting back and just watching, and volunteers are usually greatly appreciated! I got my current job in a non-profit ministry by volunteering (without employment in mind) and I’m volunteering with some writerly events this fall and next spring. It also thrusts you into the fray where you’ll meet people you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Plus, it feels good!

    • P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      Oh man, you live far away, I need ten just like you here!

  20. Lisa Orchard on September 4, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Good post Patrice! Great advice and it’s always good to be reminded of these points. 🙂

  21. Sandy Cody on September 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Good advice. I’m struck by how much it resembles the old “Golden Rule” I was taught as a child.

  22. Stina Lindenblatt on September 4, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    I’m tired of all the self promotion on Twitter and Facebook. That’s not what social networking is about. Some individuals think they’re outsmarting us with how they do things, but that only makes them look like idiots for thinking we’re not as smart as them.

    Too bad the worst offenders will never clue in. They are the ones who need to read this post, but they’re too busy spamming to take the time to read it.

    • P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      Or sending out those annoying private messages that send us to hijack sites. “Someone is saying horrible things about you here…click.”

  23. Jeanne on September 4, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    You’ve said the same thing before in different posts. Focus on people and building genuine relationships, not on capitalizing on what people can do for you. Makes a lot of sense. This is what I hope I am doing as I gradually build a network.

    • P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      You are Jeanne. If someone says network and some names of those you regularly interact with pop into your head, you’re on the way, right?

      • Jeanne on September 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

        Thanks for the encouragement, Jim. 🙂 Right back at ya. 🙂

      • Jeanne on September 4, 2012 at 6:49 PM

        Thanks for the encouragement, Jim. Right back at ya! 🙂

  24. Lisa on September 4, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    A firm friendship is more valuable than growing social media numbers any day:)

    I am encouraged by writers, they are a generous and kind bunch.

  25. Connie Almony on September 4, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Actually, these just sound like good life lessons in general.

    • Jeanne on September 4, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      I completely agree, Connie. 🙂

      • J.M. Bray on September 4, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        I’m fairly sure, if we went back far enough, we would find that these concepts started as such. 😉

  26. Dina Santorelli on September 4, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    The ‘genuine’ part and ‘giving more than you take’ is so important. Great post!

  27. carol brill on September 4, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    I said for years that I wanted to write a book, but it took joining a writing group to seriously start writing. I credit most of what I have learned about writing (and my day career, too) to networking, building relationships and learning from others. And, it is such a great feeling when you learn enough to be able to give some of it back to others.

    • P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      I’ve learned just enough to tell them who has something good to say about their topic. Being a doorman is networking too. 🙂

      Your blog is a testimonial to good networking. You practice what you preach!

  28. Gloria Faye Brown Bates/Granny Gee on September 4, 2012 at 4:29 AM

    Rachelle, I am very happy to discover your website. I am sharing it with everyone because it means so much to me to read your advice, and things to make one’s writing better.

    I know it means so much to everyone to be able to come here to read all you write about to be successful. I’m glad to be one to come here, also.

    I write a blog and post daily. I haven’t written a book, but… I do hope to one day. My blog is very important to me, I want it to be the best it can be. I still have so, so much to learn.

    Thankfully… people like you are ‘out there’ so, one can learn from you. I just wanted to tell you… thank-you. Granny Gee/Gloria (Faye Brown Bates)

  29. terri patrick on September 4, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    I agree. The hardest point for authors entering the fray of marketing and promotions is, in my experience, that “Be Genuine” advice.

    There’s a fear factor about being public and exposed that confuses authors between the genuine self and the personal self.

    Oh dear, it’s too late at night for me to be coherent about this. But I’ve made a note to explore this “Be Genuine” advice for our AM101 readers. Thanks for this post!

  30. Gabrielle Meyer on September 4, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    My father-in-law says that you should never have to tell people how wonderful you are – your actions should speak for themselves. I completely agree with him, and you, Rachelle! Networking shouldn’t be about promoting yourself. You need to be genuinely interested in others and they will naturally be drawn to you.

    My other thought is to treat people how you want to be treated. Often attitudes and feelings are like mirrors – people reflect back to you what you display to them. Networking is building relationships, and good relationships start with positive encounters.

    • P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 12:53 PM

      That golden rule thingy works!

      I like your emphasis on genuine, because when it’s fake, it makes me wary. Have you ever had anyone do the syrup dump on you? Where they come up so sweet that you know they’ve got an Am-Way club hidden behind their back? It reminds me of the old saying, “Be cautious of the first one to polish your apple, because they’ll be the first to take a bite out of it.” Thanks for being genuine, Gabriel!

      • Cherry Odelberg on September 5, 2012 at 10:29 AM

        I arrived late to this post and almost skipped it. Glad I didn’t. It has been so encouraging to read all the comments from like-minded people.

  31. P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    Thank you for this list, Rachelle. I like your outward focus. The self serving often heap their plate until they drop it.

    The movie “A Beautiful Mind” sprang into my thoughts. John Nash’s applied equilibrium says that each of us does our best while taking into account those in our group. Failure to do so leads to unilateral failure (e.g. Congress).

    Being a fan of people is a lot more fruitful than trying to get fans and it’s a lot more fun.

    • Gabrielle Meyer on September 4, 2012 at 2:15 AM

      Jim, you’ve done a great job with the outward focus. I enjoy your genuine interest in my writing and my comments and, because of that, you’ve stood out to me. Thank you.

      • P. J. Casselman on September 4, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Thank you for those encouraging words, Gabriel! ::)

    • LJ Boothe on September 15, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      Hi P. J.,

      I really like your analogies. I agree it’s a lot more fun to get to know people instead of touting myself. I love talking about my writing–who doesn’t–but I find that getting to know how other writers think, work, network, etc. always benefits me in the end, too.

      LJ (pc: L. J.)