Sunday, May 3, 2015

Networking in the Digital Age - Keeping It Fun

We went fishing yesterday. Which, in my world, means the man fishes and I sit in the sun and read. One of the ways the man and I are a good match - our favorite relaxation pastimes are compatible. It's good for me to get away from my desk and the laptop. Saturdays I typically take off from writing and getting out of the house adds to that mental relaxation.

But it's not quite as bucolic as it looks. I was reading on my iPad, which meant I could also chat with a book blogger who'd just finished THE TALON OF THE HAWK, along with posting photos of our day to Facebook and Twitter and replying to people who responded to those.

This is networking in the digital age for me.

I know some people out there might recoil at what I just described. They'd extoll the virtues of a paper book, the extended concentration of reading that without bouncing through various social media windows, of unplugging and going offline. There's a point to that - extended concentration offline does have a profound impact on my mind and well being. But I do that every day. I'm offline writing for hours six days a week.

When I'm not writing, or focusing on day job tasks, I'm online, popping in here and there. Networking.

See, I hate marketing. I don't trust it. I think it's manipulative and insincere. Yes, this is an issue of mine and I know it probably impacts my book sales. Still, it's a core belief for me. So I network instead. I like talking to people, especially those with shared interests like BOOKS. I especially like talking to people in controlled ways, where I can step back any time I like. Social media allows me to do that.

When authors complain about the amount of time and effort social media consumes, I sometimes wonder if they realize what a bounty of gifts the digital age has brought us. During my hours at the lake I finished reading one book, started another, and communicated with 500 people that I can count easily. Twitter doesn't count as easily, so it could be twice that.

More important - I had fun doing it.

I know we say that all the time, but it bears repeating. Social media should be fun. If it's not, stop right away. Step away. Close the window. Come back later. I often liken social media to parties. If you're not having fun at the party, people will notice and you'll do yourself damage instead of putting yourself in a positive light. I think Marcella's list from Friday, Top Ten Ways to Burn Down Your Public Persona, are great examples of how authors can poison their image because they're not having fun.

Networking is about making and *keeping* friendly relationships. The best way to do that is enjoy yourself and the people you talk to. When you stop having fun, the digital age lets you go dark and just watch the ripples in the lake for a while. 

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