Monday, October 19, 2020

Getting the Most Out of Online Networking

by Karen Whiting @KarenHWhiting

Networking can help us promote books in the long run, but it is first about developing relationships and not merely pitching your ideas or products. It begins with listening and learning about the other person. Listening shows you value the person, so try to listen more and talk less. With a good network connection both individuals benefit. That means considering what you have to offer and asking questions to learn from the other person. Keep in mind goals of networking should include meeting new people, enjoying people, finding similar interests and passions, and blessing others by helping them.

Before networking, know what value you bring to connections. New writers are readers and can offer to review books, join author focus groups, and share posts on their social media. Experienced writers can offer critique help, be sounding boards for ideas, and provide encouragement. Understand that as you listen to people you might become a bridge to connecting two people you know who would be great for helping one another. If so, offer to introduce them. Your willingness and genuine interest in helping others will bring rewards in time. Also know what you would like to know or what opportunities you hope to find in case someone asks how they could be of service. 

Be prepared to follow through. Set up an email to connect people who want to meet, make notes to continue following and commenting on someone’s post, blog, or podcast. Do promised reviews. All of these steps will help strengthen connections. You’ll discover when you help others that doors will also open for you without any pushing on your part. Never dismiss anyone as being unimportant. We all have value and connections. At my first big writer’s conference I made friends with an unpublished author who later opened doors for me that led to several book contracts.

Social Network Connections

On social media it can be great to connect with editors and successful authors. Make the most of those opportunities with a little research. Check out the websites of the people and the publishing houses. Then think of what you’d love to learn from them and post it as a question. That can start a conversation. Continue to build the relationship with comments when the individual posts and other questions. Check out where they speak or teach to see if you can meet up in person. One author I know has had several celebrities endorse his books because of his social network relationships with them.

Podcasts, Book Reviews, and Workshops

Check out podcasts on topics you write about and follow it as well as the friending the host. Be sure to post comments and engage in conversations. When you have a book out on the topic, or an article, let the host know and pitch being a guest. 

Review a book you’ve read and let the author know you did that and where it’s posted. That can also open doors to relationships and discovering more about techniques and style you like about the author’s writing. That can blossom into a relationship.

Take an online class from an author or writing professional you admire. Engage with the teacher and see if part of the class includes a critique of your work. That can provide personal help to strengthen your writing and also lead to endorsements.

Business Card Networking

Pull out business cards you collected or stored on your computer. These are generally people you met in person. Hopefully you noted where and when you met. Choose a few to email. Pray for the person and ask how things are going. That can create stronger network connections. I did this after a few conferences and one connection led to a book contract when that person recommended me to his editor after he learned the editor needed someone who wrote family-based materials. For other writers, this has led to online critique partnerships.

Choose a few people from your card list to follow regularly that include someone you can learn from, someone you can exchanges ideas with, and someone you can encourage or mentor. These help you in different ways to stretch you, teach you, partner with you on your journey, and to give back from what you’ve learned.

Online Conference Network Opportunities

If you attend an online conference, save names of individuals who impress you and look them up. If you belong to the organization sponsoring the event, you can probably find those individuals in a directory and connect online to build a relationship. Email those people with a positive comment about enjoying the workshop or their input to start a conversation. If some of the teachers offer opportunities to pitch, take advantage by submitting your ideas. If the workshop is recorded, you can listen again to add more to anyone on with whom you want to connect. If you see a name but no contact, check the organization running it or look on your social media to find the person.

The mutual benefits of networking make it valuable for your business. The friendships developed make it priceless.


Karen Whiting ( is an international speaker, former television host of Puppets on Parade, certified writing and marketing coach, and award-winning author of twenty-six books for women, children, and families. Her newest book, 52 Weekly Devotions for Families Called to Serve, uses stories, activities, and chat prompts to help families develop servant hearts and foster strong bonds in families who have members serving the community, nation, or world.

She has a heart to grow tomorrow’s wholesome families today. She has written more than seven hundred articles for more than sixty publications and loves to let creativity splash over the pages of what she writes. She writes for Leading Hearts and Connect with Karen on Twitter @KarenHWhiting, Pinterest KarenWhiting, and FB KarenHWhiting


  1. Thank you, Karen for the encouragement and ideas. Writers always seem to need both. ;) Donevy

  2. Thank you for these reminders. I love collecting business cards at conferences, and then, keeping in touch with the person after the conference. Connecting on social media, via email and snail mail are great ways to develop wonderful relationships with other writers.

  3. Such a good read this morning, Karen, and such helpful advice. I appreciate all your excellent posts. Thanks for sharing.

  4. You are welcome. I tend to be rather practical and hope people find ideas they can apply.

  5. This is such a great article, Karen, and since I know you personally I know you practice what you preach. You are so great at telling authors about good opportunities for them. I have appreciated our friendship, and I appreciate all you do for other authors.

  6. Enjoyed this Karen. I've signed up on your FB page. I've been searching for a social media group with Zoom meetings for those who are already published in NF. I've belong to a great Christian group for the past 6 months, great people, unfortunately no one has the big urge like I do to write and publish.