Last week we discussed how to work your way into those elusive, yet extremely desirable top-tier media outlets. You can read about it here. This week, we’re going to delve a little deeper into this topic and focus more on the networking aspect of it.
You already know you must have great content and show there is social interest and interaction. If you’re involved in a non-profit organization to some degree, that can add tremendously to generating momentum and visibility. It shows in a very tangible way that you’re not just about selling your book, you’re about helping people or the world at large in some way.
As is true with anything in life, who you know makes a difference, but who knows YOU makes an even bigger difference, and that means networking.
Some shudder at the thought of networking, but it doesn’t have to be scary or painful. Forget the old days of going to networking meetings and having overbearing folks thrust their business card into your hand without asking a single thing about you. I don’t believe that has ever worked, and the good news is that more and more people understand that now. We have grown up. A lot.
When it comes to networking both online and on-the-ground, apply these general rules:
- Be a giver, not a taker.
- Present ideas visually.
- Engage with others, including influencers, in a friendly way. No hard sales.
- Secure small and medium earned media outlets first. From there, focus on top tier. They’ll be watching.
Here are specific rules for when you are networking with those in top-tier media, some are for in-person situations, and others online:
- Have your “curiosity hat” on. Be sure and show your interest by asking questions, meeting their eyes, and not sneaking peeks at your phone. Ask them what they’re working on these days or the kind of person they like to interview. Don’t delve into everything about you and your book first. If they’re a normal human being, they will ask about you when the time is right.
- Remember what your mom always told you: First impressions count. Dress appropriately.
- Wear good manners.
- Think about how you can help editors and producers. What do you have that will help them? Framing what you have that way makes it more intriguing and less salesy.
- Remember: It isn’t about you and your book, even though you think it is. (I know, it is: but you want to help them first, right?) Approach them with ideas that will help their audience solve a problem.
- Listen to the show. Watch the show. Read the outlet. Figure out who they like to talk to and what they like to talk about. Then only pitch new ideas within the scope of what they cover.
- Enhance what they’re already doing and let them know it. Not in an arrogant way, but helpfully so it shows you are paying attention to them.
- You want to pitch show or article ideas, not your book. They don’t care that you have a book.
Here are a few more reminders to consider:
Just because you see someone else getting tons of media attention doesn’t mean that you can’t get coverage as well. Explore what that person is doing and learn from it.
The biggest mistake I see people make is letting their egos get in the way. “Everyone should already know who I am.” If they don’t know who you are yet, they don’t know who you are yet. Figure out how to let them know.
Getting a publicist will make your life easier, but it doesn’t mean you will sit back and let your publicist do all the work. You’ll most likely get a lot more visibility, but plan on being a part of the process. Collaborate! She can pitch her contacts, but you are the content expert. Your ideas are needed and necessary.
When it comes to rejection, no doesn’t necessarily mean no. It can be simply, “No, not right now.” If you get rejected, take to heart any feedback they give you and figure out a way to do it better.
When all around you you see people getting earned media attention it’s easy to think surely it must be easy. If they can do it, then I can do it. Yes, this may have a grain of truth in it, but you have to have fresh, interesting ideas.
Your Action Plan
The best way to get started is with a plan:
- Create a wishlist of where you would most like to appear.
- Check them out and be sure they would cover a topic such as yours.
- Pay attention to the stories and interviews they do so that your ideas make sense.
It’s not enough to just want something. You have to have a plan and be able to present your ideas in a way where it makes sense to others too.
Networking happens everywhere, all the time. Whenever you post on social media, when you introduce yourself at group events, when you write a pitch letter. Remember: The Golden Rule applies: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you don’t like hard sales, then you know not to push that off on someone else. Yet, it’s amazing how many do just that, isn’t it? Well, not you and not me. We have other ways of networking and reaching our goals.
To your success!