it's unenviable because, frankly, she's really quite right in most cases and she's good at making her point So now I have to find a way to say the same thing differently enough that I sound even a little wise.
Fair enough. Networking is GIGANTIC. It's one of the greatest skills you can learn. And Jeffe is right. It's about having friends and acquaintances and makings are that people think of you favorably.
Want to know what it's not about? It's not about being an ass. It's not about being THAT GUY at conventions. Which guy? The one that whines about how well everyone else is doing. The one who, at panels, as a member of the audience, waits until the questions start to make a fifteen minute long declarative statement that is A) Not relevant to the discussion, b) not a question and/or C) designed solely to inflate said speaker's ego in an attempt to make the panelists look unprofessional. THAT GUY.
It's not about getting drunk and grabby. I once had two separate editors point out to me that the thing I did better than several of the writers at a convention I was attending, was NOT get drunk, NOT get grabby and NOT try to pitch my novels while doing the same.
Networking is not talking smack about other writers, or trying to make them look small in an effort to look better.
I have one writer/editor who, at every convention or social event where we cross paths, likes to tell me publicly about numerous health issues, who likes to DOMINATE conversations that often have nothing at all to do with said individual's wheelhouse of experience, and who on several occasions has suggested that I should recommend their editorial services, despite the fact that I have never employed those very skills.
It's not just me. Several others have made comments. Here's a hint: A polite "How are you?" is not meant as an invitation to let the world hear your woes in a professional setting. You aren't doing yourself any favors in those situations.
Put another way, networking isn't about what you can get out of a situation. Networking is getting to know your peers and, yes, it's about friendship.
I have many friends in the field. I do not expect anything from them. They do not expect anything from me. Sometimes I've collaborated with them. Sometimes I've let someone know about a "closed" anthology, or had an editor on an anthology ask for suggestions as to who might fit within the parameters of same. Sometimes the favor has been returned.
Sometimes I've made introductions between writers and editors and sometimes others have done the same for me.
The introductions allow something amazing: a chance to not be left in a slush pile. A chance to show an unknown editor what you an do, especially if the editor is friends with or trusts the opinion of the friend who introduces us.
It's about being friendly, professional and courteous. You'd be amazed how being a decent person can come back to you.
You'd be amazed how long it takes people to get past the reputation being THAT GUY can get you, too.
This is NOT how networking is supposed to go.