Note: I said "hi" not "Buy My Book, Buhbye"
Connecting with others at one's convenience around topics of one's true interests is what made the general population adopt the Internet. Trust me. I was there in the thick of it. (Yes, it was a few years after dinosaurs roamed the earth.)
Why Network: There are two reasons to network: visibility and opportunity. You get what you give. The tri-fold law of Karma plays heavily. Networking is not about direct sales. It's about creating and fostering relationships. While some relationships may not seem to have a direct correlation to our goals, we never know who else the people we meet know.
Where to Network: For writers--a notoriously introverted bunch--social media is dream come true. There are many, many different social sites to suit our various comfort levels of interaction. Jeffe was spot on when she wrote on Sunday, "if it ain't fun, don't do it." Is Facebook the bane of your existence? Try Pintrest instead. Twitter too hipster for you? Try LinkedIn. Taking "show not tell" to heart? Fire up a YouTube channel.
When to Network: We all lead busy lives, and writing needs to take priority over social networking. (The best marketing you can do is to write that next book!) Sometimes, that means we can't devote an hour or two a day to patrol our assorted networks. That's fine. The world keeps spinning without us. When we have a moment--and often it is just a moment--we connect with our networks and hopefully reengage in conversations. Time zone differences, offline work schedules, and life are all accepted justifications for our absences. And online, going offline is expected.
It's like having permanent permission to leave the party early! (Woot!)
So, while online networking can lead to offline meetups, we Introverts need not dread the interactions. The Digital Age is all about convenience and comfort--our convenience and comfort. Go ahead, reach out to a stranger online. You might be connecting with your new best friend.