Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sharon Rainey: Establishing a (virtual) Writing Network

I am an introvert. I dread speaking in public. Ask me to speak to a group, and my palms start sweating at the thought of such a task.

I started my own company in 2003 followed by a non-profit foundation the next year. My colleagues constantly emphasized the importance of “marketing” my company, “branding” myself, of “networking” in the community.

I attended lead share meetings, networking lunches, newcomers’ groups. I hated every single second of it. I showed up, and then I faded into the background, terrified of making conversation with a room full of strangers. Being in a public setting strangled my voice.

But put a computer screen in front of me, and I can write. I can write and share my opinions, my fears, my experience, strength and hope. I can tell you what I’m doing, how I do it, and why I do it. Removing the human contact actually makes it easier for me to connect with others.

I write on my blog about Lyme disease; I write to the members of my network. I contribute on LinkedIn. I write on Facebook and on Twitter. I guest blog where possible. I submit newspaper articles. I write about a variety of topics such as

• my battle with Lyme disease
• my nephew’s recent suicide
• accomplishments of my non-profit foundation
• the book I wrote and the next book I am writing
• my struggles, frustrations, and small conquers

You get the drift. I write about anything and everything that affects me. I write about anything and everything I think someone else will connect with. My primary purpose of writing is to connect with others. It’s the only way I know how to “market” myself effectively, to “brand” myself, and to “network.” I have found when people read my writing, it can make a lasting connection.

Those who do connect follow me on Twitter, they friend me on Facebook. And sometimes, they buy my book, or ask me for a cup of coffee and we develop a friendship.

Honestly, I would much rather develop a friendship than be known as an effective networker or marketer. Because in the end, I still want to be known as a good friend and a good writer.

Sharon Rainey is currently co-authoring a book with her physician on the proper diagnosis and treatment for Lyme disease, entitled With a Twist of Lyme, due out Spring 2012. She wrote her first book, Making a Pearl from the Grit of Life in September 2010. It is available on Amazon and at Follow her on Twitter (@SharonRainey) and Facebook (Sharon Elaine Williams Rainey).


Mark Prebilic said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly! Why is it that to be a "successful" marketer you have to have face-to-face contact? I also hate all those networking events and fade into the background when I get the nerve to go to one. It's good to hear I'm not alone in this behavior!

TennisShoes said...


I write to attempt to understand especially about aging or to capture and reflect significant moments. Reading Jane Gardam's "Old FILTH",(Failed in London, Try Hongkong), well, what an AHA!: the mutterings and illusions and absent mindedness, forgivenesses and memories that successful old man reveals.

As for "selling my wares", barking to compete, keeping myself girded against all comers, all odds, well, the other side of myself loves a competetive rumble. You are remarkable to be able to travel beyond your Lyme Disease and reach so many goals. And, when the time is right, aren't there agents and editors who will help you sell your wares?

Maybe I'll put my stuff in an old trunk and someday someone may find it and think, AHA, so that's what it was like for her.

And congratulations on producing a book with a physician about Lyme disease. Important and timely.