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 www.sharonrainey.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SharonRainey) and Facebook (Sharon Elaine Williams Rainey).