Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Limits to Social Networking

The buzz word these days is networking. There are so many ways to connect to your professional, volunteer, or social community online, whether it’s through e-mail, websites, forums, blogs, or sites like Facebook.

But . . . while it’s so helpful for me, as a writer, to receive news of the field and share ideas, there is also a downside to this hyper-opportunity—information overload, less face-to-face interaction, and, of course, less time to write.

The disappearing-time factor is lethal. I love writing this blog, and although it does take a few hours, the real time sucker is not the actual writing, but the networking that goes hand in hand. After publishing a post, I need to send out the link to potential readers and “followers,” peruse and post on fellow bloggers’ sites, cross-post, guest blog, etc.

If I spend too much time on networking-deluxe—which is so easy, pleasant, and hypnotic—then where is the time to write? Clearly there has to be a balance. My answer, at least for now, is to limit my online “networking” allotment to a few hours on one day a week, with shorter follow-up later in the week. Obviously I’m missing a lot on the other five days, but what is the alternative? I want to keep writing, and I think my (future) agent and editors will be pleased with that, too.

Let’s hear from you. Do you self-impose limits on your networking activities? What suggestions can you share for dealing with this decidedly 21st century dilemma?


  1. It is definitley hard to strike a good balance. I think the people who djuggle it all successfully are FAR more orgnaized than I am!

  2. I don't have a blog because I fear it would be too much of a time-sucker for me. I used to check a number of blogs regularly but real life (not just writing life) has kept me too busy to check the blogs. I can't work on a schedule but for those who can, it might be the best way to limit time. And blog-checking shouldn't be done during a person's most productive hours. When I really want to get things done, I head to the library with a laptop that doesn't have Internet access.

  3. In my case, I think my networking activities have been instrumental in furthering my career--and by furthering, I mean landing an agent. Had I not been actively promoting children's literature and immersing myself in industry news, I would not have made the friends I have made and had referral opportunities. I did not start my blog or Twitter with that intent, but it has been a "happy accident" (as so Greg Pincus calls his networking blog).

    I don't have a set schedule that I follow. I blog when I have the time between projects or when inspiration strikes. I usually Twitter in the morning--for me it's like reading the paper, finding out what's going on in kidlit that day and then sharing it with others. But at some point, I have to shut it down and work. Some days I'm better about this than others!

    Like anything, you need to find what works for you. If you don't enjoy blogging, you shouldn't do it, as your abandoned blog will look like a ghost town. You have to make a commitment to networking if you're going to do it, because doing it in starts and stops isn't necessarily effective. If it's something that you make part of your daily routine, and limit the time spent on it, then I think it can indeed help to enhance your career.

  4. Thanks Corey, Melissa and Tara. Tara, you mentioned how instrumental networking has been in finding an agent, so thanks for reminding us of the plusses. It is important, though I have to admit I have just started blogging/networking since I finished my novel. Don't think I would have had time before that.