We live in one of the best cities for networking–Minneapolis. Speakers, small business owners, young professionals, seniors, women, and bloggers all have networking groups with impressive attendance. The more successful authors we meet, the more we’ve discovered that networking is an integral part of an indie author’s trek to name recognition.
We asked several authors, friends, and publishing industry folks which networking groups were key for helping an author market their books with speaking engagements, book selling opportunities, and good ole fashioned word-of-mouth promotion and answers poured in.
Several networking groups probably just exist in your city. We looked for groups that can be found in major cities all over the country and general groups that continually prove supportive for authors.
Toastmasters is a phenomenal organization for authors who are speakers or hope to become speakers. There are usually several chapters per city that meet and if you join, you’ll receive tools to become a great presenter and great networking at the same time.
BNI is the largest networking group in the world. BNI groups are abundant, so you’ll easily find one in your backyard. These groups meet weekly, so the commitment is steep, but you’ll get heavy-duty networking while receiving regular referrals.
Like Toastmasters, you’ll get sensational tools for becoming a professional speaker.You’ll also be tapped into networks that will lead to speaking opportunities for corporations, non-profits, and larger conferences. It’s a perfect group for business, self-help, and academic book authors.
The premier networking group for women, you’ll enjoy informative luncheons and a structure built around supporting each member’s business. You’ll have numerous opportunities to promote your book, especially since you’d be able to have a table at every luncheon. You will also receive several opportunities to be a speaker.
If you’re a woman with a small business, there’s much to be gained in joining NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners. You’ll get entrepreneurial support that will absolutely prove useful in your journey as an author with endless promotion and networking events.
The Rotary, a community-service based organization is a terrific organization for authors of every genre and background, especially if you have an interest in humanitarian causes. The Rotary meets weekly and you’ll likely meet key community leaders.
Your local Chamber of Commerce is a fantastic group for authors who want low-maintenance commitment with high-impact connections. You don’t have to “join” your local Chamber of Commerce per se, but you should remain in their network and keep tabs on their events. Again, if you’re interested in becoming a speaker, targeting your local Chamber of Commerce is a place to start.
Sororities and fraternities are a fine way to engage supporters of your book. We wouldn’t recommend joining one for the sole purpose of networking, but if you already belong to one, challenge your sorors or fraternity brothers to help you reach a sales goal.
Many alumni organization post updates on the achievements and successes of graduates. Inform your alumni department at your alma mater of your book release, but don’t stop there, send an update when your book wins awards, when you have a notable signing coming up, and if your book is reviewed or mentioned by the media.
If you belong to a book club, encourage your book club members to spreading the word about your book and if possible select it as a read for discussion. Seek out book clubs to read and provide reviews of your book. For remote book clubs, use a site like Skype to interact with them.
In the earliest stages of writing your book, you might belong to a writer’s group or even several. Writer’s groups are great for receiving much needed moral support in the writing process and once your book is published, your writer’s group will likely be thrilled to support what they have seen develop from the beginning. Align with your writer’s group to host a release event, and include these members in your contact list that receive regular updates. Consider this group your foot soldiers who you engage to really spread the word.
Once you figure out which groups work best for you, here’s our fool-proof checklist for getting the most out of every networking event:
- Always carry business cards. We love company called Moo for creative and unique business cards with a variety of designs for writers.
- Set a goal to meet at least 7 new people at each event. Go armed with a prepared elevator speech to share about your book.
- Have books ready to sell on the fly. You’d be surprised how many books you’ll sell at networking events. Most are there to receive information, grow, support, and network, so it’s a perfect venue for having your book available.
- Take your time on your way to your seat. Make a point to speak to people as you make your way to your seat even it’s just to introduce yourself.
- Follow-up. Don’t make connections superficially. Send an email post-event to the contacts you made and keep a running list of people to keep in touch with.