Friday, March 13, 2009

"Hello, My Name is..."

I hate sticky name tags.

Hate 'em.

You know - those ones that crazy-smiling, over-enthusiastic, organizer-ladies slap on the lapel of your jacket at "functions" just so that everyone can gaze down at your left boob in an attempt to figure out who the hell you are and whether it's worth their while to talk to you?

They either fall off, leaving you to wander the reception hall in obscurity, or they stick too well and, after you've left the party, they leave an unpleasant residue - which people still stare at, while at the same time deriving no useful information about you whatsoever.

Hate 'em. But even I have to admit that, applied correctly, they serve a purpose. And - in situations where they are used - they're almost always a vital necessity.

Well... self-promotion is a little like those sticky tags. So the key, it seems to me, is to make the dang things work somehow. How to be "sticky" but not "unpleasantly residual", as it were. How to invite interaction, disseminate information, and - at the same time - avoid gawkery and awkwardness.

To belabor the metaphor, and for the purposes of this post, let us consider the interwebs - and think of its many many many facets as the glue-backing on your tag. How many layers of adhesive do you need to make your name stick? Without getting annoying and gummy?

A website? A blog? Myspace? Facebook? Forums? Twitter? A whole whack of other stuff I don't understand and can't wrap my head around?

If you're nowhere, no one's going to find you.
If you're everywhere, you run the risk of becoming background noise.

As for my sticky tag, I've applied these adhesives:

A website - this is, for any author these days hoping to sell books to someone other than immediate family, a must. It's not even the adhesive, it's the fabric of the tag, itself.

A blog - This is really your first layer of glue. The place where your fans and the people you want to be your fans can find you and find out about you. Be warned though - it's a tricky sticky bit: you have to pay attention or the glue starts to weaken (mine was, admittedly, down to Elmer's White-strength while I was writing and revising bk2 and now I'm going to have to work to get it back up to Epoxy-strength! Anyone reading this now - go to my blog! Follow my blog! I'll wait!......... Okay! Back now? Awesome!! Hmm... I wonder if that'll work...) Right. So - tricky. Because the blog is one place where the unpleasant residue can really make its mark. Be careful what you say. Be mindful of how you present yourself. Of how you want potential readers to see you. The internets are forever.

And of course it goes without saying, there is this place, THE NOVEL GIRLS group blog. Sticky, pleasant, and ever-so-slightly lavender-scented!

Myspace - for me, this bit of adhesive is essential, because my audience for the WONDROUS STRANGE series is Young Adult. And Myspace is the Starbucks across the street from the Highschool. Plus, I've met an astounding number of really cool young people (and one or two creepy old guys who get de-friended right quick!) over there.

Facebook - another essential, and one which - again due to bk2 I let come a little unglued. Time once more for regular pastings - er - postings.

Forums - I belong to or frequent a select few regularly and they're terrific for networking and building friendships. Nice and sticky (apply blogging caveats as required). My favorite forum? HardcoreNerdity without a doubt. I also like Backspace (which is a membership site) and Absolute Write (which is not).

Twitter - I have heard it's like Crazee Glue. And, while I have yet to open the cap on that tube, I think there will come a day. I'm willing to entertain thoughts/suggestions on this one (couched in sticky-tag metaphor or not!)

A whole whack of other stuff I don't understand and can't wrap my head around - again... open to suggestions from those who have found sticky-mileage.

But you know what's even more important than the name tag? YOU. Once people have gotten past the initial introductions and the furtive boob-glancing, once they know WHO you are, they need to know WHAT you are. So smile. Be brilliant. Be funny. Don't hog the conversation. Have something interesting to say. Give out your contact information (where appropriate! remember the creepy old guys on myspace!). Do the circuit. Don't stand in the corner with the potted fig. Be friendly. Be helpful. Be the life of the party and - most important - HAVE FUN DOING IT.

Then, if your name tag accidentally falls off, there are people who will remember you and return it to you. And you will thank them because - somewhere along the line - you actually became fond the gummy little nuisance.


Maureen Lipinski said...

Love the metaphors! And I've yet to forage into twitter or facebook, although it's on my "to do" list. I'm sort of afraid of being sucked into the Black Hole of Online Social Networking, only to return a harried, crazy-eyed woman.

Jillian Cantor said...

Lesley, you always have the best metaphors :-). I haven't joined Twitter yet either, though I've been considering it lately. I'm not sure about it still.

Lesley Livingston said...

Hee - thanks, guys! I do love me some metaphor.

Hey Maureen! You gotta problem with harried, crazy-eyed women? Hunh? Hunh? Where are my cats!?

Jillian - lemme know if you do. An whether or not it turns you into a harried, crazy-eyed woman!


Lisa Patton said...

I don't think I can do Twitter, TOO. I may live to regret that statement, but write now I'm on the internet too much as it is. I am still in awe of how you other NG's get in so much writing. . .amidst everything else. I loved this post, Lesley!

Tracy Madison said...

Great post, Lesley! Your metaphors are soooo appropriate. :)