Relationship Maintenance 101

Catherineby Catherine L. Tully

Being a writer means cultivating a variety of different contacts. You need to develop relationships with editors, other writers, and depending on what type of writing you do, companies, associations and other venues. The good news is that a writer who keeps these relationships in good repair will have a network of people to turn to for work and advice. The bad news is that all this takes time.

First of all, people can really tell when you are faking it. If you are going to drop an e-mail to a writer buddy to ask a question, don’t think they won’t remember that the last time you e-mailed you wanted something as well. Be genuine. Foster relationships with people you like and it will be a heck of a lot easier to care about what they have been up to in their writing career. Make it easy on yourself.

Editors also know if you are always coming to them with your hand out. Why not drop a line once in a while just to wish them a nice summer or share an article that reminds you of them. Stop thinking of everyone as a gateway to a paycheck and start thinking of them as a person. It matters.

Next. Relationships necessitate regular contact.

You’ll need to strike the right balance between friendly and annoying. If you are in touch too often, you’ll become a pain–so err on the side of caution here. Let their response give you a clue. If you get a quick e-mail back with a few sentences, take it easier next time and wait a bit before you reach out. If you get a nice, friendly e-mail with some details about their life/work, etc., take it as a sign you’ve done well. Same goes for a phone call.

Finally…be a connector.

If social media has taught us anything it is the value of being a person who provides appropriate connection for others. This means being on the lookout for something that might help your fellow writer, or sending an editor a link to a website that has value to them in some way. The more you can anticipate what people need, the better they will remember you. Plus, it’s fun to do.

What are your secrets for maintaining good relationships in the field? We’d love to hear from you!