I call them my ’tax.
Three years ago when I moved to Collingswood, I was happy to discover I could walk to my new eye doctor’s office, just a few blocks away.
Dr. K seems like a genuinely nice guy. On my first visit, we rapped about writing and publishing. At the time, I was in my “dark” period, writing-wise; I was working on what I called “creepy science fiction,” a series of short stories about a doctor who performs medical experiments on unwitting patients.
Dr. K seemed to get a huge kick out of me. He asked all about my writing process and where I get my ideas. He said he really respected writers and had a lot of admiration for artists of all kinds. The way he said these things, I really believed him.
He wished me luck and flipped off the lights to do some vision tests. He handed me a little paddle and told me to cover my right eye with it.
Then he said, “The creepy experiment will begin now.” We had a good laugh over that.
Last week — two years later — I had my checkup. Dr. K gave me the usual news about my absurdly dry eyes, and reminded me to do hot compresses at least once a day. And he talked about my ever more astigmatic left eye, ordering three different left ’tax for me, so I could choose the one that fit the best.
“How’s the writing coming?” he asked as he tore my new ’tax prescription from the pad and handed it to me.
“Great, actually, thank you for asking,” I said. “My first book’s coming out in August. It’s called Simply From Scratch.”
A huge smile filled his face. “That’s so cool. Is it creepy science fiction?”
“No, it’s women’s fiction.”
“What’s women’s fiction? Sounds kinda sexist.”
“Oh, it’s not. Publishers categorize their books for bookstores, and my book is considered women’s fiction because it explores widowhood and women’s friendships and relationships. The cover’s pink,” I added.
“Well, I’m still gonna read it,” he said. “What’s it about?”
I gave him my ten-second pitch: a young widow enters a baking contest as a way to overcome her grief, and various adventures ensue. It takes place in New England, and in New Orleans, and it explores how communities can heal individuals, and how individuals can heal communities.”
“Wow, congratulations,” Dr. K said. “That sounds fantastic. Hey, listen, my wife has a book club. Are you going to visit book clubs? I know she’d love to have you.”
“Totally.” I gave him my card, reminded him that Simply From Scratch comes out August 5, and invited his wife to email me. “Feel free to spread the word,” I said, as I stuffed my new ’tax prescription into my pocket.
“Oh, I will,” he said, shaking my hand enthusiastically.
And I believe he will.
I think the above exchange is a nice example of networking for people who think they stink at networking, or who think networking is icky. Sometimes in your day to day life, you might be having a casual, polite conversation when you discover that you’re actually networking quite naturally — whether you have a book to sell, a charity for which to raise money, a business that’s getting off the ground … or are just looking to make meaningful connections with receptive people in your community.
Also, the “small talk” you made two years ago with your eye doctor might come back to you in a surprising, pleasant way. I have my new ‘tax to thank for what might turn out to be a cool opportunity to discuss my work.
If you’ve got a similar story to share, or thoughts — good or bad — about networking, bring it!