Professional Societies

I am a proud member of the Editorial Freelancers Association. I’m in their directory and on their mailing list, and I look at all the awesome things they offer and sometimes partake of them if I have a spare moment.

But what about other professional societies? Is it actually useful to be a member of the Professional Craft Book Cartel? Would I go to the Annual Meeting of Knitting Book Creators? Or is it just a signal that I have an extra hundred bucks that I could have spent better?

I used to belong to a regional publishing society through my former job. I once went to an informal networking society. It was middle school all over again, only with better looking people and alcohol. I talked to my friends for the first half an hour, drank the best Manhattan of my life, then talked to a bunch of young, hungry publishing professionals who I would have either asked out or wanted to be friends with if I were single, braver, and  extroverted enough to follow up. We were all in the same boat; no one was offering me jobs.

Is it that I’ve never been a joiner? I like talking to people, but I hate going to groups. I’ve never been to AWP, but I imagine it would make me feel something between this and this.

So, tell me, is it networking or a waste of time? Is it educational or nothing new? Bullshit or building character?



6 responses to “Professional Societies

  1. Despite my fears about AWP, it reminded me of why I love books, authors and people who write whether or not anything comes of it. Although after attending one panel more geared toward networking than writing, I avoided those. I’m not a networker. I shut down in a situation where the beautiful people are exchanging cards, seeing how they can help each other out. I felt like I did in 5th grade, the tallest kid in the class standing in the back row awkward as hell.
    However, meeting people some I had only known online, was fantastic. But they were all pre-edited by the time we’d spent together anonymously until not, the best part of my experience.

  2. I imagine it is good all around. I wouldn’t know. I’m here in a medieval French town of 4000 people with no network beyond the blogosphere. I’d probably network a little if I could afford to do so. But truthfully I’d likely be looking at career change stuff as writing is more of a hobby for me.

  3. Networking is a waste of time unless you’re already a natural at it. I used to be a member of a photographers society and it was AWFUL. For me it has always been better to seek out like-minded people individually and build friendships. There’s potential built in to those relationships, but the affection is sincere and the communication is more relaxed.

    That’s just me, though. Not good in group situations.

  4. I just signed up for a conference. I used to know how to work a room, but I haven’t been that person for a while. Here’s hoping I don’t spill gravy down the front of my blouse and can mumble more than uh, uh, uh while pitching my ms.

    Unfortunately, I think networking is a necessary evil. I’m thankful I’m not a shy person. However, I used to be terrified of public speaking and big, social happenings where I was put on the spot. Sweating and shaking is really embarrassing. I desensitized myself by taking a job where I had to stand in front of rooms full of executives and teach. I lived. They lived. My longwinded point is, even if you don’t make *the* contacts, practice is always good. And sometimes you’re rewarded with some really interesting people. If not, you’ve survived another conference and it should make the next one just a bit easier.

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