When writers think of networking from a marketing perspective, they usually focus on building a network that can help the leverage the advantages of mouse-and-mouth marketing. Basically, from a marketing perspective, the primary advantages of social media are that consumers are more likely to trust a “friend’s” endorsement than they are to trust a traditional advertisement, so successful social engagement can produce better results. So, as writers, we connect with people who may be willing to spread the word about our published works, especially our books.
We use social media to sell the things we want to sell, whether it’s products or services. Other people also use social media to sell us things, too. It’s only fair. As writers, it’s also an opportunity. If you’re committed to marketing your work, there are things you know you can do and, you’ll find, there are things you need someone else to do.
Social media is an opportunity for writers to not only keep track of people who might be willing to spread the word about our work (for free), but to also keep track of the people who can provide products and services we may need in the future. LinkedIn is especially useful for this.
For example, I connected with a professional on LinkedIn who provides PR services to authors for a fee. Now, I can create press kits and other materials and make them available to interested parties, but I don’t have the connections required to actively place those materials in the hands of professionals who might be interested in them. This is a service this contact provides at a reasonable fee. This fee is about $1,000 a month, with no long-term contract, which is very reasonable when it’s compared to the cost of a more traditional PR relationship.
Just the other day, I was contacted by a person who publishes audio books. This serves as another example, because I wouldn’t have even thought of that for my own books. I haven’t looked into this to see if this service is more viable for the indie author; but, the pitch made it sound like their market is the indie authors of the world.
Cultivating contacts like this is an opportunity for the writer, because otherwise you’re left to shop around for the services you need in a more traditional fashion. If these people are part of your network and you are part of theirs, then you have more personal interactions whereby to judge whether or not you trust this person (and their business) with your limited investment capital. There are too many good ways to spend that money and too little money to do everything you’d like to do to market your book, so you certainly cannot afford to waste it on someone you don’t know that you can trust. Networking makes sure you don’t have to.