Once upon a time, writers could lock themselves in a manor out on the moors and correspond with the public solely via letters sent to a publisher.
This is not that time.
To succeed as a writer in this century, you must maintain a strong network that includes a batch of agents and editors, a slew of fellow writers, a gaggle of social media followers, and at least a bushel of current and former clients.
The partridge is optional, and the pear tree merely showing off.
But you get my point.
Trouble starts for many writers when they realize the importance of networking, but aren’t sure how to organize it. That leads to frustration as they spend time and energy making contacts, but don’t develop the momentum to leverage it toward a better career.
Networking Apps for Writers
Enter networking apps. These programs help you organize, track, and interact with your base of contacts to help build the all-important platform that agents and editors keep asking you about.
Here are the ones I like best.
Ours is a who-you-know-not-what-you-know business. The “who” that advances your career might be in the spin class next door to your hotel or at the fan gathering across the street. Aloqa uses your phone’s GPS system to help get you into the same room.
When you tell Aloqa what kind of networking you want to do, it combines that information with your location and local listings of events and venues. Then it gives you customized recommendations about where and how to spend the next few hours.
If you go to writing conferences, you come home with a stack of business cards. If you did the conference right, you’re probably too exhausted and full of information to go through them right away. A week later you find the cards in your briefcase and sort of remember where they came from.
That does nobody any good.
Camcard lets you photo-scan a business card in real time, add the information to your contacts database, and include a few notes to help you remember why you care who this person is.
If business cards are too 20th-century for you, Contxts is the best app for taking things into the next millennium.
It’s a quick and easy way to share your email, social media, and phone contact info directly to another person’s phone. Depending on the recipient’s preferences, you can do this by email, text, or that cool bump technology.
Contxts has lots of competition, not least of which is the simple contact-sharing option on most smart phone operating systems. But it’s consistently on the top-10 app lists and among the most frequently recommended tools for this particular job.
Sometimes you want to make plans with, speak to, or collaborate with more than one person.
Group text and social media messaging are OK for informal talks with small numbers. The big-kid collaboration apps like Basecamp and Slack are more robust, but sometimes too formal and far-reaching for what a writer wants to do.
GroupMe splits the difference elegantly with a messaging platform that’s just complex enough to support a writer’s group but not so full of bells and whistles it’s confusing to navigate. It includes photo and location sharing, and assigns any given group a phone number you can access via text message.
Even if you’re good at talking with people, meeting the the ones you need to talk to is a whole different kind of challenge.
Happening helps you rise to this occasion by finding the professional events within a driving range you specify. Tell it what kind of event you want, and where you’re willing to go, and it finds them for you. When you pick the ones you want, it adds them to your phone’s calendar, complete with reminders.
I like using Happening’s verbal reminder feature on my cell phone. Once the app puts the event on your calendar, the reminder pings you a couple days ahead so you remember to prepare.
Where to meet with a coworker is a common challenge Dilbert ran one of its most hilarious strips about the problem’s pitfalls and frustrations. You have to figure out a place both of you know, and both of you like, and both of you can get to easily.
Meetme handles all three of those aspects. You tell it where you are, and where your contact is. MeetMe then produces a list of suitable places. The two of you have a quick text session to choose which one you like best, then the app emails directions to both of you.
This may be my favorite app on the list. Namerick is the second-best thing to having a partner with a phenomenal memory and a kind way of helping you with names.
It takes a little more initial set-up than most apps, but it’s a lifesaver. You input someone’s name, as well as any details that will help you identify that person later on. The next time you see their face but don’t remember their moniker, take a second to duck out, and browse through your notes until you find them. Then reenter and greet them jovially by name.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best modern technology has produced thus far.
Online dating isn’t just for dating anymore. Shapr is a mobile-only platform for people who want to grow their networks. It works exactly like a dating app.
You put in your information, what or who you’re looking for, and your location. Shapr vets your profile and those of others to help recommend a handful of people who would be best suited for your acquaintance.
And just like a dating app, the rest of it—email connections, in-person meetings, congruent goals, and chemistry—is up to you.
Which of these apps you use is less important than which one you’re likely to check every day. The features, interface, and specific tools vary, so try out three or four, then make a decision.
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