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!

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