It’s a question I’m sometimes asked, and ponder myself. Do business-networking groups help burgeoning writers? The answer is…it all depends on the group.
If it’s an association for writers, authors, publishers, or a combination thereof, absolutely. Networking with your colleagues will certainly help to make you a success. It can be something as simple as a small writer’s group where you can get feedback on your latest project from your peers, or a professional organization, such as The Independent Book Publishers Association. A word of caution however with large organizations — make sure they have a local chapter in your area that meets regularly. Otherwise you won’t get the benefit of networking.
If you are a copywriter you should consider joining your local advertising club, if one is available in your area. Likewise, if you’re a nonfiction writer, you may want to look into professional associations related to your area of expertise. For instance, if you write about finance, check into associations for accountants or financial planners.
Public speaking is an invaluable sales tool for authors, however many writers tend to be introverted, so the idea of speaking to a large group of people can be extremely daunting. If that describes you I highly recommend Toastmasters. You can learn the art of public speaking in a positive environment, and while it’s not a leads group per say, many Toastmasters do network with other members. If you’re an author of how-to or self-help books you could, potentially, make a good living as a motivational speaker, and if you do twenty or more paid speaking gigs a year you may qualify for membership in the National Speakers Association.
There are many referral groups out there. These organizations are usually limited to one member per profession per group. They typically meet weekly, or bi-weekly, for breakfast or lunch, and the members exchange business leads with each another. My recommendation for this kind of association is a definite maybe. No two referral groups are the same, and it all depends on the make-up of the individual group. If you find the right group of people with the right connections it could be very beneficial, but if by chance you end up with the wrong group you could be throwing your money away, as the cost of dues, and meals, can quickly add up. My recommendation would be to visit them as many times as they will allow and try to get a feel for the group before you commit.
Remember your local Chambers of Commerce and other community business associations. Check and see what kind of networking opportunities they have, and if they offer workshops or boot camps that would benefit you. Keep in mind too that offering to do volunteer work for these associations can also open doors for you.
Regardless of what kind of professional organization or networking group you may decide to join, it’s all about building relationships, and once you build good relationships the leads and referrals will usually follow.
My tip for the day.