In this sixth and final part of the author networking series, we want to help you put everything together. Even if you’re starting from the very bottom, making networking a priority in your author career is bound to help you rise closer to the top. We know it’s difficult when people say you should spent your time writing more books and researching the latest methods on marketing, but networking may be more important than anything else in this business. There are no guarantees in self-publishing, but making strong connections and building an influencer platform is likely to bring you some success.
As we’ve said before, going from the bottom to the top, from a commenter to an influencer, is the kind of thing that takes between six months and several years. Keep that in mind when you check out this step-by-step plan. It’ll take a long time to put into action, but it should be worth the effort. Here are your action steps:
1. Set Up Email and Social Media
Start your author-networking journey by creating a professional email address and optimized Facebook and Twitter accounts. Your email address should likely include your name and/or your profession. It should not be some college nickname you devised back when you first got email. Not everybody is as informal as you might like them to be.
The same care should be taken with your social media accounts. Use profile pictures that are a close-up of your face, and update all of your information to show that you’re an author. You want to make sure that when people go over to your Facebook page that they don’t see some wild and crazy guy. You want them to see a peer and an equal.
2. Follow Pages and Join Groups
Once your accounts are set up, start following the pages of authors you respect and who you’d like to connect with. To go a step further, set up notifications so that you receive an alert whenever one of these authors make a post. This will allow you to like and comment on nearly every post the person puts up there. You want these authors to know that you’re very interested in what they do, and that you’re not just a casual fan.
You should also join self-publishing groups where other authors are congregating. Take the temperature of the group to see how people usually interact there. In most cases, you won’t be able to share any self-promotional links. That’s fine because you won’t be doing that sort of thing anyway, but you should make sure that when you do start posting you follow the rules of that particular group. After you’ve got a feel for the group, you can begin asking and answering questions, as well as generally commenting on the popular posts in the forum.
3. Comment, Retweet, and Respond Often
The next phase involves a lot of liking, sharing, and commenting on posts. This is not the time to figure out a million different ways to say “great post!” You should read all included content and links so that you can make an educated comment. You’ll know that you’re doing a good job when you start getting likes and favorites on your responses.
When people send you messages, direct comments toward you, or shoot a personal email your way, respond as quickly as you can to stay part of the conversation. You essentially want to become each page or group’s number one fan or contributor. If you’re having trouble responding honestly and faithfully to these posts, then that may be an indication that it’s not the right page for you to be a part of.
4. Create an Opportunity and Invite
Now that several influencers have seen your responses and remember your name, it’s time to develop the service that you want to provide. Make sure your efforts are connected to a task you enjoy or that you’re exceptionally proficient at. Block out the necessary time to make the service a success, and start inviting the authors and influencers with whom you’d like to connect.
Some services take no more than a day to complete. Others could take months of your time. Nobody said this would be easy, and the amount of time and effort you put in will be proportional to the reputation you’re able to develop from its success. If the service you provided goes well, then you can do it over and over again and keep inviting more and more influencers to be a part of.
5. Develop an Influencer Platform
Over time, you may become known as the person who does that service extremely well. One of the best ways to take advantage of the goodwill you’ve generated is to develop your own influencer platform. Use the lessons you’ve learned from creating your service to guide whichever platform you decide to use. Do as much research as you can on how to build a strong foundation and build it up over time.
Like the previous step, this could take months or over a year to develop. If you don’t see immediate results, then you might be tempted to give up before you put in too much of your precious time. Resist the urge to quit. When you provide strong content over and over again, and you do a great job promoting yourself, your platform will continue to steadily build itself up.
6. Invite Connections to Your Platform
Thankfully, you don’t have to do all the promotion for your influencer platform. Invite the influencer connections you’ve made to be a part of your new endeavor in some way, shape, or form. In many cases this comes in the form of an interview, a webinar, or some kind of big event. Authors who know and trust you will be willing to share your platform if it’s valuable enough. As more and more big-name authors share your platform, you’ll be able to bring in considerably more people who will look up to you as their new influencer.
Now that you have a strong platform, you have several options when it comes to conferences. Beforehand, you could only show up as a semi-anonymous attendee. With your influencer status in place, you’ll be able to apply to speak at the event or you can organize your own meet up to connect with your followers while you’re in a different area. This is a great way to solidify your connection with existing fans while giving yourself the opportunity to broaden your fan base.
Your number one priority at the event though, should be to meet with other influencers. Do your research ahead of time to figure out who will be there and how you can best connect. Invite these influencers to be a part of your service and influencer platform. From there, you can start the process all over again with these new contacts.
Give Yourself The Necessary Time
It bears repeating that this 7-step process can take over a year to do correctly. You must set aside time every day or week to make progress in your networking endeavors. Any success will seem incremental at first, but the people who are willing to make small strides every day are the ones who can overcome all potential obstacles. Take on this path with gusto and you’re bound to find your own place as an influencer at the top of the self-publishing mountain.