Today we're discussing networking. I find this to be just a fancy word for interacting within your chosen community. In this case, we're talking about meeting & working with people in your bookish community. As it was part of my job, I am pretty good at working with groups & individuals to fulfill their bookish needs. Rather than bore you with some of my successful events, I'm going to tell you a few things I have learned along the way.
- Befriend your bookseller, especially the indie stores. They can tell you what books are coming out when & even host some great events! I spent a great deal of time at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC for several events. They seemed to be in touch with a variety of authors & genres that appealed to all ages. Even better though was my book relationship with Sarah at Borders. She was a regular employ who was almost always the one ringing me out, so she kind of got to know my reading habits. We'd make small talk on slow nights & one day I came in to find books being held for me in case I was interested. I also got lots of promo/display items that were being tossed out & dozens of book recommendations. Find that person or that store in your area (I know it can be harder when you live in a small town, but making the drive for some great events is totally worth it!) & just start talking. You'll be amazed at how much you can learn!
- Use your library! I know that sounds dumb, but they are so much more than a place to pick up and drop off books. Many libraries now have bookclub resources that vary from library-hosted bookclubs, kits with books & discussion guides for outside-the-library bookclubs & sometimes even meeting spaces. Does your library not own the book you want? Do you know about InterLibrary Loan (ILL)? Most (if not all) libraries have the ability to request certain items from other institutions. It's a way for book collections to be shared at a mutual benefit to both groups involved. Ask about this option the next time you want a slightly less popular title. Don't forget about the library's events too! While a lot of programs are aimed at getting the younger folks into reading, there are still some teen programs with prizes & even some adult programs with incentives.
- Join Twitter! While many people have been tooting this for a long while, I was very skeptical & very resistant to getting on Twitter. I would see people tweeting & wonder what all the fuss was about. Finally I thought, "I'll give this a week. If after that I don't get it, then it's just not my cup of tea." It was such a relief to find it so simple & interesting. I am able to follow several of my favorite authors, businesses, & other bloggers. There are contests with authors & publishers, snippets from daily writings, & get some all around fun! A lot of my daily news comes from this source because it's just so easy to get the information out there. At times I do get frustrated because I can't keep up & I miss out on some things because I'm not attached to it, but that's part of the fun. It's constant & never dull.
- Don't be afraid of interacting with strangers, in real life or online. I'm sure "Stranger Danger" is running through your mind right now, but I'm sure you all understand my meaning. A smile & comment in a waiting line can make all the difference. I've met other book bloggers (like the ever so lovely Vania, queen of the book trailers!), new friends & several lovely authors by simply being nice. You never know who you're going to meet or how awesome they can be if you don't at least try. A lot of time other people are just as nervous as you, but as social creatures we usually find something in common to bond over.
- Finally, think outside the box. Can't get anything good at your library? What about a bookswap (wither locally or via one of the many online versions like Swap.com or PaperbackSwap.com)? Want to do a giveaway, but don't have a book? Why not team up with a seller on Etsy.com to giveaway something related to something bookish? Got a lot to say & think it'll take more than one post? Create a special week long event! There are no real rules, so have fun with it! I have done all of these things & the ideas came to me when I was running out of options. I LOVE partnering with other bloggers, artisans, & websites. My motto has always been, if you don't ask then the answer is always no. You never know what you might get in return either. Some of the Etsy artisans were even kind enough to give me a discount & work with me on designing something special for my giveaway.