Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Networking Miracle

Get out there. Keep meeting new people. Take an interest by asking what they do. Offer your assistance or help. It's called networking, and there's something very mysterious about it.

So last night I almost skipped a networking event - a local alumni gathering for the university my wife attended. But I went because I always seem to meet someone I need to meet at these type meetings. Also, they offer free food.

So the first few people I met were interesting, nice, and I felt like I was able to encourage or offer some direction in their pursuits. We exchanged business cards. It's always fun to be useful to someone.

The fourth and last person I met was a financial planner, so we naturally hit it off - my latest book is on personal finances. He mentioned that he was raising two boys, trying to help them toward independence, so I mentioned that getting my own 7 boys independent inspired my recent research and writing. Finally, I offered him a free copy, thinking he might find it useful. And, who knows, he might could recommend it to clients or when he teaches seminars or something.

So he says, "Hey, my wife works with a textbook distributor to schools. I'll let her see it."

I thought, "A textbook distributor to schools? A TEXTBOOK DISTRIBUTOR TO SCHOOLS!!!"

It just happens that my top marketing goal for this year is to figure out how to get my book into schools. I don't have a distributor to schools. I need one.

This is so bizarre that it almost defies imagination. On the way home, after giving him a copy (always, always, keep copies of your books in your car), I looked at all the lights of stores in Kennesaw and thought, "Out of the 30,000 people in Kennesaw, Georgia tonight, what are the odds that one of them works for a book distributor to schools? And what are the odds that I would meet that person's husband at a random event that had nothing to do with book marketing, and that the meeting would occur in the very month I was prioritizing marketing to schools?"

Coincidence? Because of my faith, I have to believe that this was a God thing. As someone once said, "a coincidence is when God works a miracle and decides to remain anonymous."

On the other hand, there tends to be a human part in miracles - someone prays, someone is out helping the needy, then God shows up. Networking gurus would say that miracles tend to happen more around people who are out there doing something, rather than to people who are sitting on the couch eating nachos and watching TV.

Whatever you make of this, I think it pays to get out there and meet people. I help them; they help me. That's when miracles happen.

J. Steve Miller
President, Legacy Educational Resources
Author of Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It
"The money book for people who hate money books."

A Writer's Weaknesses: Try Teamwork

Here's a note I wrote on a forum to someone who said he's a great idea person, but his grammar sucks. I assume that he's tried to work on his grammar, but it's just one of those things that he can't "get."

Dear _____,

If you're aspiring to be an editor, you'll have to be an expert on Grammar. But if you're wanting to write books and articles, that's what a writing team is all about. Whenever I write an article or a chapter, I read it over and over it, trying to perfect it. Then I give it to my wife, who's a fast reader and can give me big-picture ideas. Then I make corrections and give it to my mom, who's a stickler for grammar - she's the comma queen, agonizing over whether this or that comma is really necessary. If you're in a writer's group, that's where they come in handy.

For a book, I'll give the manuscript to many other people, besides my wife and mom, to critique. They keep finding errors - some of fact, some of grammar, some of consistency or logical development. These are not typically professional writers - just people who like to read. (They're typically glad to look it over, honored that I respect their opinion. I give them a free book after it's published, then ask if they'll give me a review on Amazon. Since they've already read the manuscript, I get reviews right after it comes out.)

By the time I give a book to a professional editor, she's having to look hard to find mistakes.

Sure, there are some writers who can do it all, then turn it in to an editor for final polishing. Steven King used to teach English on a college level, so he can do it that way. But many, many others think of it as a team approach. James Patterson, the most prolific, best-selling author of our time, will "write" 9 books this year. He's the idea person; then he gives it to a team member to flesh it out. George Lucas can't spell worth anything - but he's a great idea person and can tell a great story. Lloyd Braun hatched the idea of the TV series "Lost." He hired Abrams and Lindelof to do the writing. And they involve others in their writing sessions as well.

Do you involve others in your writing? In what way? How does it work for you?