Creating is networking

I have been so grateful this week for the various people who’ve shared news about Juliet’s School of Possibilities. It’s been a reminder of what an amazing network of people I’ve been lucky enough to tap into. I’m not a “connector” in the sense of naturally reaching out to people or putting people together; my brain doesn’t automatically work that way. But over the years, I’ve somehow managed to get to know a reasonable number of people. Reflecting on how this happened, I have come to see something:

Putting stuff out into the world is networking. The books, the articles, the blog posts, the newsletters, the podcasts — all of this is networking, even if it doesn’t immediately seem so.

Creating is networking in both an active and receptive way. Here’s how this works. On the active side: To write my books and articles, to get guests for a podcast, I have to reach out to people. Generally these people are experts on a topic, or people who are successful in some way or another but — interestingly enough! — experts and successful sorts are people too. I have stayed in touch with many of them. I have followed their careers, and over time a good number have become friends.

Straightforward enough. But here’s the more intriguing side of it. My books, articles, newsletters, and podcasts can be out in the world in places I can’t physically be. They introduce me to people. I commute with them. I (hopefully!) make the laundry-folding experience more palatable. I give people something to read while they’re waiting for their kids at soccer practice.

If I make myself accessible (generally through email) people will reach out. This includes a few cantankerous sorts. But these are vastly outnumbered by wonderful people (including thoughtful critical people who I’ve also had some great follow-on discussions with).

For a while I didn’t see writing stuff as “networking.” It doesn’t look much like making connections at a cocktail party. But it feels more natural to me, and writing has introduced me to more people than I’m probably going to be able to introduce myself to in person.

In any case, if you’re trying to find space for both creative work and building a network, it might help to see that these can be the same thing. People can get to know you through your cartoons, your songs, your videos. At least that’s true if you put your work out into the world. But with all the world can give back, why wouldn’t you?

In other news: Some more links! Working Mother ran a piece I wrote on “5 Ways for Working Moms to ‘Choose Well’ and Make the Most Out of Their Time.” And I was the guest on Erik Fisher’s Beyond the To Do List podcast — a great productivity focused show that I know a number of readers here originally found me through (from past interviews). Please go check both of these out!

3 thoughts on “Creating is networking

  1. I’ve been listening on audible while driving for a business trip. I love this story! It’s much different from what I understood it to be, and it’s so fun to hear your voice. Your characters are incredibly credible, and I love the way you span the lifespan of a young female launching her career to mid-career reflection. I will finish it on my return trip tomorrow. Churning through audio books is one of my favorite ways to re-frame the driving and travel necessary in my line of work. A few miles out of town, I realized I’d forgotten my paper books (the horror but not as bad as forgetting running shoes), and I was grateful to have downloaded this and several others and grabbed the most recent New Yorker on my way out the door.

    1. @Griffin – audio books are great, and I’m glad you’re enjoying listening to this one. And yes, we may try to position it as a graduation gift too!

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with this! I am a member (and by that I mean waste many hours on Instagram scrolling) of a couple different online communities around various topics, including sewing. The online sewing world is an incredibly kind and positive community. People post pictures of their makes and generally receive lots of positive, thoughtful and engaging comments. I often notice that these relationships formed by putting your creative self out there lead to real life friendships, collaborations and opportunities. I don’t really know anyone IRL that sews and so one of my goals for 2019 is to not only make an effort to comment and contribute to others’ work, but to display my own work and to hopefully develop some deeper friendships in the process.

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