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3 Tips For Making Online Friendships Work

My posts earlier in the week touched on Failure and Fear. Since I couldn’t end the week on a low note, I decided today’s post needed to be positive. And what could be more positive than talking about Friendships? (Besides the word fits the “F” theme I’ve got going: Failure, Fear, and Friendships. Isn’t that neato?)

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: social media sites are for socializingfor building friendships. Many authors jump into facebook, twitter, and blogging and use them as billboards for promoting their books. That just doesn’t work.

In order for social media sites to truly benefit a writer’s career, we need to have a seismic shift in the way we view them. The friendship factor is the key to maximizing the potential of social media. Kristen Lamb had another great post recently: The Most Effective Marketing Tool: Kindness. She said this, "Be genuinely interested in other people and the promotion will come."

Without genuine solid connections, our efforts within social media sites may even work against us. People might see us as cold, unapproachable, only concerned about marketing. And if we’re trying to make friends just to promote our books, people will sense it, and that will work against us too.

Social media is all about forming caring, encouraging friendships. That takes time and effort, just like any relationship. But once we begin developing those connections, the side benefits are invaluable.

Recently my online friendships have brought about several big blessings. A couple weeks ago my web designer was setting up my Author Page on Facebook. In order to reserve my new URL, we needed to get 25 people to "like" my page. I sent out a request to some friends, asking if they’d be willing to help. To my delight, my wonderful friends not only “liked” me, but they spread the word that I needed help!

Another huge blessing is the critique partnership I’ve formed with writer, Keli Gwyn, one of the dear online friends I’ve made. For the past year, I’ve used a freelance editor, primarily because I haven’t had the time for a reciprocal critique relationship.

But when Keli approached me with a plan for a critique partnership, one that was mutually beneficial but workable for our busy schedules, I knew I needed to give it a try. We both write inspirational, historical romances, and we’re both at the same spots in our writing careers and represented by Rachelle Gardner.

Little did I know just what a blessing her offer would be! Keli is in the process of editing the book I recently finished. She’s incredibly talented and detail-oriented. Now with my freelance editor’s critique as well as Keli’s, I’m confident I’ll be able to turn in the best book possible to my Bethany House editors.

The help I received from facebook friends and my new partnership with Keli—these are the results of online connections. And there are so many more benefits—too numerous to list!

The point is that social media is about SO much more than selling books. If I don’t sell a single extra book as a result of my online presence, I will still feel like I reaped so much from all of the connections.

Here are three quick tips for making online friendships work:

1. Start early. Don’t wait until you get a contract or your book is releasing because people might think you’re schmoozing for the sake of promoting your book. But if you’ve been genuine all along, your friends will likely rise up to help you when you need it most.

2. Be friendly to everyone. Meet new people. Step out of your comfort zone. Offer to help others. Be real. Show courtesy. Go out of your way to be kind and encouraging. What goes around, comes around.

3. Take care of your most loyal friends. When push comes to shove, know who your most faithful followers are and make sure they don’t get lost in the crowd. Staying in touch with friends gets hard in the nitty-gritty of life and as our followings increase. But we can’t neglect those we value the most.

Maybe the online friendships won’t directly lead to more sales. But they will enrich our writing careers in ways we never believed possible.

Are you using social media correctly—to make real connections? What other tips do you have for making genuine relationships? And please share how you’ve been blessed as a result of your online friendships! I’d love to hear!

51 comments:

  1. I agree Jody. I make a special effort ot visit those who followed me early on and have stayed consistent. I also have a very close friend now who I met through blogger. Hi Wen Baragrey :)

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  2. Jody,
    I think that's why I love reading your blog...it's personal...not self-promoting!

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  3. Congrats on your partnership with Keli!! That's awesome! Love this post.

    Also...Jody....did you just use the word neato? ;) Gotta love ya!

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  4. Your blog IS friendly. The reader knows he or she can rest here and read good information. And you are a good writer too. We know you are a blog friend.

    Teresa

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  5. I think you said it so well. Our online friendships might not sell books but we will be blessed in other ways that are not able to be measured. I know I have been for sure. I've met people online and then in person and we surpport each other through more than just our writing.

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  6. I admit to being a little introverted when it comes to social media. I post on blogs, but tend to skim Twitter and Facebook posts. Part of that is due to time limitations.

    I don't have a local writing group. All my writing friends are online. Last October, I went to Susan May Warren's first My Book Therapy retreat and met a group of women who clicked with me. We formed a friendship that will last a lifetime.

    I've gotten to know other writers who are clients of my agent. I'm thankful for those friendships, too. Little by little I'm crawling out of my online comfort zone.

    Congrats on your partnership with Keli. I've gotten to know her a little better recently since I had been a guest on her lovely blog.

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  7. #1 and #3 really go hand in hand. Browsing and making those friends before the major success is wise, but so is knowing who's truly in your corner.

    I've made amazing friends in my short time online. A mere four months as granted me wonderful connections and people that understand my daily struggles. I am blessed to have made a few true friends. It's amazing to me.

    Enjoy your weekend.

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  8. I'm not sure I could ever have grown this much as a writer had I not made such incredible friends through blogging and twittering. Starting with you, Jody! So, thanks, Friend.

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  9. I've been blessed by meeting in person several online friends at conferences and conventions. Such a thrill to put a face to an avatar or screen name.

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  10. Like Katie I picked up on the neato. You never cease to amaze me. ;)

    Keli is fantastic. Wonderful partnership there.

    I've found people who approach writing and faith like I do, online and for that I'm deeply grateful.
    ~ Wendy

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  11. I totally agree. The benefits include commiserating together, sharing fun events, and encouraging each other.

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  12. As usual, I always find wise and wonderful advice whenever I visit your blog. Thanks for the tips and the wonderful online friendship.

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  13. This post is making me grin, because I'm just about ready to send my proposal to Ms. Rachelle on this very topic. :)

    In a nutshell, over the course of the year, my family and I traveled the country and stayed with 31 families (17 of whom I met through my blog and had never seen before we showed up at their doorstep). Our lives have been enriched LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE through genuine online friendship.

    Blows. My. Mind.

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  14. I got into blogging just as I started my writing journey and the people I've met along the way have helped me more than I can say. This writing community is the most kind and generous group!

    I find that I go in waves with my social interaction. Life gets in the way and I pull back. I hope people don't get upset when I can't reciprocate the comments and connections like I should. But, hey, we do the best we can, right?

    Loved this post! Congrats on getting Keli as a crit partner! I bet she is excellent!!! She is organized and disciplined like you...a good fit, I would say.

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  15. This is so true, Jody!

    I can think of a writer I've crossed paths with, through a blog and facebook. They haven't made any effort to connect with anyone, there's that lack of the sincerity you mentioned, and I think it hurts them.

    It's a lesson, for sure!

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  16. I have been amazed at the amount of caring people in my blog circle. I never dreamed when I started blogging that I would encounter friendships. It's been a blessing. Love your tips.

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  17. The greatest blessing of blogging has been the friends I've made. In 'real life' it isn't always easy to find friends who have common interests, but online, those are the people you are more likely to meet.

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  18. The online connections I have made have been so helpful in so many ways, from advice, to support, to just showing up and letting me know they are there. I still find it mind-boggling that I've never met these folks in person because I feel so connected to them.
    Karen

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  19. This kind of interaction was impossible 25+ years ago when I first dipped my toes in the writing world. It really was lonely back then.

    I covet your friendship and those of many I know I'll meet in person some day.

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  20. I LOVE this and would also include be real but also kind.

    Be informative but also chatty and personal.

    You've nailed this about as well as anyone I know!!

    Way to go, girl! And congrats on the partnership!!!

    P

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  21. Like you, I've been fortunate to find some fabulous critique partners through blogging.

    Have a great weekend!

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  22. You're right. It's so important to try to build relationships with social media. I've met some wonderful people!

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  23. That's the reason I jumped into the whole social media thing - to connect and to help promote author friends. Its been a blessing from the start.

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  24. I joined Twitter to find other kindreds: writers, thinkers, bloggers. To build a network of interconnected friends. To help others in a way I hope to be helped in return one day.

    But in the end, if I weren't writing and knowing that one day I'd need this network, I probably would get all the friendship I need at home, and in my town square on Saturdays.

    I tweet and blog because I am a writer, and because most of my real-life friends can't identify with that obsession as well as my other tweeting writer/blogger friends can :)

    Is that under-handed and wrong?

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  25. I got onto blogger becuase a friend from college and a writer herself showed it to me.
    I never knew there was such a great community of writers online! Especially ones who hold the same values and beliefs as me.
    I've enjoyed your blog, Jody.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  26. Jody, these are such good suggestions--and they truly help, too. The friendships I've made through blogging alone have been invaluable. A true blessing. It always amazes me and touches me how caring and sweet people are--how much they are willing to do for you. It's so important to reciprocate those friendships--and rewarding too! Thanks for ending your week of posts with this topic :)

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  27. I have a special affection for online friendships because it was through internet interactions that I met my writing partner. I consider her to be one of my closest friends, even though we've never met in person (I'm in Ontario, Canada; she's in Texas). We're separated by 1600 miles and 20 years in age, but sometimes I swear that we are twins separated at birth. This interaction has led to a solid writing partnership for almost three years and, I hope, for many more.

    The internet has a wonderful function -- it allows us to meet people with similar interests and passions in ways that would not be possible if we were only exposed to others geographically. It is definitely a forum worth cultivating.

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  28. Jody, a beautiful post. I have met so many wonderful writers via blogs and twitter. It is all about relationships. Thanks!

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  29. Jody- great post. I am just starting out in the blogging world, but I send a note whenever I get a new follower, trying to build that relationship from the start. It's great fun!

    Cyndi
    ctefft.blogspot.com

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  30. Jodi,
    I think you've shown us all a great example of how blogging and social networking should be done. You have a passion for writing and making connections that comes through loud and clear. It's no wonder your efforts have produced much fruit.

    Blessings on the next stages of the publication journey and your new critique relationship.

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  31. Wonderful post, Jody. You always have great advice for people, and you have such a nice blog (the layout's beautiful too). :)

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  32. Every writer should read this post. Seriously.

    When I started building my platform, I only thought of how it would promote me as a writer. But within a few short months, I realized I was getting so much out of it personally--much more than I'd ever anticipated.

    Publishing is a small world. We need peers to share our ups and downs with. Social networking helped me get into a reader/people friendly frame of mind. I genuinely care about my online writer friends, and I know they care about me.

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  33. A decade ago online relationships were viewed with caution and I kept my distance. I realize it’s still important to use good judgment in how much personal information is made public, but the genuine encouragement and sharing of knowledge I receive online has enriched my writing experience in a way that can’t be matched by my real time friends because most aren’t writers.

    I’ve made several online writing friends, and one is reading through my current ms right now, offering her opinion and suggestions. In turn, I’ve just finished critiquing another online friend’s synopsis and first fifty ms pages before he submits them to a contest.

    Such relationships and connections are invaluable because they’ve helped me move from being an introverted loner to a more confident communicator. You’ve contributed to that, too, Jody. I always feel like I’ve had a ‘live’ conversation with you after I’ve visited your blog. Your openness and the interest you show in the experiences of your readers reveals a beautiful, loving heart and it’s a wonderful blessing.

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  34. Great post. I think the sincerity that you talk about is really essential. It's not about "hey, I'll follow you if you follow me", but finding other writers that you can support and who can support you. And you're right, Jody, people really notice if you're not sincere.

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  35. I know that I first saw a tweet about your blog from Rachelle Gardner, who was taking the time to edify you. I didn't know you from a hole in the ground, but I stopped by, commented then reposted because I loved the content. In turn, that edification made you take a closer look at my blog, which helped me. Now your blog edifies me. So on and so forth.

    I feel like each of us (writers)are like individual quilt squares. No two are alike. Alone we are maybe beautiful and intricate, but we would be operating outside of our purpose. A single quilt square is good for what? A pot holder? A coaster?

    It isn't until we are stitched together with other squares that we can hope to realize our purpose. And the more squares, the more intricate and magnificent.

    In fact, if we have enough squares, we can EXCEED our purpose. We can go from a quilt that covers the bed, to a quilt that tells a larger story and that changes the world.

    What stitches all of us together is the power of love, respect and edification.

    Thanks for being such a blessing to me Jody!

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  36. Jody, I never thought social media would be such a great learning tool. I'm amazed at all the great things I've learned from authors like yourself, agents, and others who are willing to share what they know. I've learned that writers are a very generous group of people. Thanks for another great post!

    And thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  37. Great post. I really love online connections and community support. The one thing I would recommend is to continually stop and take a look at your buddies and make sure you're giving back to them....it's easier to forget this because we're online. But just as important as with "real life" friends.

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  38. You started a facebook page. Where was I? Found it - great! I'm made a lot of friends through blogging, etc. I've never been a shmoozer and never thought of making or using connections just for business purposes. Didn't even cross my mind. I'm meet a quite a few folks including you who are positive and encouraging and have given me incentive. I appreciate that. It's also a two way street. As Kathryn said, it's real easy to tell when someone isn't being sincere. Just like in real life we have to work at friendships, talk and support each other. Make sure to keep in touch.

    As always, wonderful post, Jody.

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  39. Jody, I'm sure glad I didn't miss this post. You are one of those online friends I love bumping into, whether on Facebook, Twitter or through our blog comments. I feel like I get what it's all about and do pretty well at keeping the balance. I really wish I had 100 heads and sets of eyes, not to mention hearts, so I could keep up with every one of my followers consistently. But I do have my core readers and blogs I read in turn, and it's a beautiful thing. It really is. Glad you're out there and that our paths still find ways to cross. :)

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  40. You speak the truth! You get what you put into it, and the online community is no different. I really enjoy the genuine friendships I've made through my year-plus of blogging. It took courage to jump into the pool, but honestly the water's fine. I'm so thrilled to have made the connections I have and look forward to making some new ones. You're very lucky to have Keli as your crit partner! And how wonderful that you both write in the same genre. You are very blessed indeed. Have a great weekend!

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  41. Jody, I agree with your three tips. We should be friendly, interested in not just getting followers but making friends, sharing knowledge and experience.
    I love your posts, you write from your heart and have loads to teach and share.

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  42. Good post. I am enjoying my online friendships; it has been such a blessing. I just need to find a better balance with blogging and writing time:)
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  43. Hi Jody -

    I agree with your evaluation of social media friendships.

    Even if I never wrote another word, I'd want to be friends with all of you. You've been my cheerleaders, my comforters, prayer warriors, and, on occasion, my disciplinarians.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  44. Just when I was considering leaving FB, Twitter and my blog behind to endure and enjoy the pain and triumph of a writer's life alone, your post came along. Thanks. You've encouraged me to re-think my approach to this whole social media 'fad'.

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  45. I've often thought that one of the best things about the advent of social media is the fellowship writers can now enjoy with one another. It ends the classic condition of isolation that used to be an expected part of writing.

    We're not lonely anymore. Writers are a chatty bunch and as we chat we help each other grow. I think this may really change writing and publishing as time goes on.

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  46. Hi Jody,
    I agree 100% with what you've said. Social Media when used for the right reasons will bring you a network of blogging friends and build your platform in the end, if that's what you're seeking. But, a lot of people fail to realize that it's not just about business, it's about ommunity of like minded folks coming together to share their passion & creativity...

    First time visiting your site & it's very personable.

    Clara

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  47. I just need to find a better balance with blogging and writing time:)
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  48. I like the three "F"s theme here. I've made some amazing friends online and regardless what happens with my writing career, those gifts are priceless. So glad wonderful things continue to happen for you. You are an inspiration.

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  49. Starting early is important because it takes time to nurture friendships. (I really need to get a decent photo of myself. lol)

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  50. I agree that the online relationships need to be nurtured. However, I will also say that you are very lucky to get to work with Keli. (And I can say the same about her getting to work with you.)

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  51. I got into social media to promote my book - little did I know that it would lead to so many amazing friendships. I've built relationships with other authors that I never could have met in "real life," made some wonderful friends based on shared interests, and oh yes, it did help me build my platform and promote my book! I can't imagine my life without this wonderful online community. Yes, it takes time to nurture these online relationships, just like real life friendships do, but it's time well spent as far as I'm concerned.

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