by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel
Lucinda Secrest McDowell, M.T.S., is the author of 11 books, contributing author to 25 books, and has published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she studied at the Wheaton Graduate School of Communication and served as Communications Specialist for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization (Thailand) and Editor for Billy Graham’s International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists (Netherlands). A member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), she has received “Writer of the Year” awards from both Mt. Hermon and Blue Ridge Writers Conferences. Cindy speaks internationally through her ministry “Encouraging Words” and co-directs the New England Christian Writers Retreat. Known for her ability to convey deep truth in practical and winsome ways, she writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in New England. Visit her online at www.EncouragingWords.net
I just returned home from my annual retreat with two dozen other authors and speakers—a time where we unplug and pray and share life with one another as we listen to God for the upcoming new year.
In reflecting on this time, I realized that having true friends “in the business” is a privilege not to be taken for granted.
While I have certainly not always been this kind of friend, I’d like to offer a dozen principles on nurturing such relationships.
12 Tips to Nurture Friendships with Fellow Writers/Speakers
- Never Compare – I know it’s hard to refrain from comparisons, but competition can kill a friendship. Please recognize that you both have strengths and unique stories to share. Don’t try to imitate her professional journey or personal style. Be confident in who you are and what you have to offer.
- Keep Confidences – Nothing destroys a friendship (personal or professional) faster than telling secrets. Be a person your friend can trust, whether she talks to you about her new proposal, her $ advance, or a family struggle.
|Promote your friend publicly.|
- Promote Your Friend Publicly - Praise them on social media and recognize their contribution to your life (or even your work) when appropriate. Be their cheerleader.
- Brainstorm Together – One great service we can perform with our friends in the publishing industry is brainstorming over titles or plot devices or platform expanding. Listen. Then, be an authentic soundboard and always be kind.
- Refer Them When Appropriate – Chances are you may one day be asked to speak at an event (or write a book) on a theme that is not your forte, but fits your friend perfectly. How gracious if you recommend him as an even better expert on the subject.
- Plan Appointments – If you are both going to be at the same convention, sharing a platform, or even an airport, plan in advance a time for one-to-one catch up if at all possible. This shows how much you value keeping in touch.
- Share their Joys – Make a deliberate effort to congratulate them on a new book release or an award nomination or win. Chances are nobody “at home” noticed, so your words will be especially appreciated. After all, this friend “knows-what-your-life-is-like.”
|Endorse their work.|
- Endorse their Work – If asked and you are able, seek to endorse their books or give a speaking endorsement for their website. “Do send me the manuscript and I will consider writing an endorsement if at all possible.”
- Don’t Use Them – Yes, our professional friends have all sorts of contacts and while there is nothing wrong with occasionally asking them to mention us to that event planner or editor, try not to make this a habit or certainly not the basis of your friendship.
- Keep Expectations Loose – Your friend is your friend but she is also friends with many other authors and speakers. So don’t expect to always be included in her gatherings and don’t assume rejection when you see her posts on social media.
- Welcome New People in Your Life – There will always be close friends, but don’t gravitate to them exclusively at professional events. Reach out to welcome new people into your life and expect a blessing. Everyone doesn’t have to be a ‘best friend.’
- Pray for Them – And by that, I mean don’t just say you will pray for them, do it! If possible, pray over specific requests (or dates or deadlines) that they share with you. Though this is listed last, it is probably the most important ‘glue’ for your relationship. We grow to love those for whom we pray.
What have you found to be the key ingredient for friendship with other writers?
What has been the difficult part of maintaining such a relationship?
I’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, go drop your friend a note, ring them up, or send an email to say you are thinking of them as they begin a new year of writing and speaking. And I hope I will see you somewhere along the way in 2016!