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Small fish / Big pond (or Flounder in the Shark Tank)…

10 Aug

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There’s a certain feeling I get sometimes, one that is difficult to define but no less real for all that.

The sort of feeling I get when I find myself in an environment that I am as yet unfamiliar with, but have nonetheless been invited into by those to whom it is second nature.

It’s a sensation similar to one I’ve experienced when, having been roped into some committee, council, or focus group at work, I suddenly realise that most, if not all of the others present, have the relevant information, skills or training at their disposal and that I’m going to have to blag it somewhat, at least until I know what’s going on.

The earliest example I can recall of this feeling, that I may have accidentally become an imposter, simply by having turned up when invited, was way back in 1980, when I was an innocent young schoolboy in Sussex.

I used to play trumpet in the local Boy Scout marching band and my music teacher suggested I turn up for the weekly band practice at school.
Now, I wasn’t bad at playing the trumpet, (although my long-suffering parents may have disagreed) in fact I had graduated from blowing a basic bugle to playing an actual valve trumpet, learning various rousing marching tunes by ear, with the aid of our slightly eccentric band master in the Scouts.

The key phrase in that sentence is “by ear”, as I realised just too late when I proudly sat down with my instrument case at band practice the following week, took out my trumpet and heard the music teacher say;

“Right, if you’d all open your music score to page three…”

Ah.

“Um, I’m sorry sir, I can’t read music.”

Yes, there was sniggering.

Yes, there was a certain air of communal smugness amongst the rest of the assembled musicians.

And yes, I scuttled from the room, mumbling excuses and vowing never to put myself in such a mortifying situation ever again.

Which, obviously, I still did, we all do, it’s part of life.
Part of the rich and varied learning curve we all have to climb, in order make our way in an increasingly complex world, one where social interaction has given way to social networking and having “friends” no longer means the same thing as it did when we (meaning anyone aged thirty and over) were kids.

But I’ve done pretty well to catch up, I think.
I quickly got the hang of social media.
Well, Facebook anyway.
I’ve got a YouTube account, and Twitter, and tumblr.
I even have my own blog for goodness sake.

So how much different could other social media sites be?

LinkedIn is the social network for the business world and therefore the only experience I’ve had with it so far is when I use it to share blog posts, from which I have previously gained very little traffic.

Then, when I was doing some general maintenance on the blog last week, including adding a LinkedIn share button to the bottom of posts, it occurred to me that it might be worth tidying up my neglected LinkedIn account profile.
Which was when it occurred to me that there are all sorts of professional bloggers, writers, publishers, authors and editors out there, many of whom must use the site to promote themselves, (I know, I know, I told you I was still learning) so I set about finding as many people in those fields as I could and sent them all invites, followed by a polite introductory message, just to see what would happen.

The other thing that I realised was that my profile claimed that I was called “Dale Cooper”, (my initial attempt at persuading the system to accept dalecooper57 as my name having fallen at the first electronic fence) an entirely fictional identity that only exists in two places; my head and the blogosphere.
So before sending out my opening salvo of invites, I took the completely non-executive decision to change the account to my real name, (I’m pretty sure there isn’t anybody who still thinks I’m called Dale Cooper, right?) which is at least a fairly uncommon one, added the details of my day job and updated my profile to make it clear that I was interested in connecting with people in the writing business.

Then I sat back and waited.

Just looking at the LinkedIn newsfeed made me feel out of my depth, scrolling through posts about content management, marketing, copywriting, content development and target demographic optimisation strategies, (ok, I made that last one up) all of which may as well have been in Swahili for all the sense it makes to me.

All of which makes it rather problematic when trying to engage a potentially useful new contact in a conversation that I can steer around to how I might go about getting myself in on the ground floor (or at least into the basement) of the rarified and ephemeral world of published writers.

It turns out I needn’t have worried, all the writers and publishers I have contacted have been sympathetic, helpful and glad to give advice.
Not only that, but I have now built up a network of over eighty LinkedIn users, some of whom actually sent me invites and several of them have already provided me with invaluable hints and tips on creative writing.

But it gets better.

Today I saw a post from one of my new connections, requesting that writers submit short stories to her, for inclusion in a book.

An actual, real, printed book!

So I did, obviously.
I submitted two of the stories that I wrote for my contribution to the Stream of Consciousness Saturday posts and now all I have to do is wait to hear whether they meet all the criteria for inclusion.

In the book.
I did mention there was a book, right?

I’m more excited than a schoolboy who has just realised he can read music.

Watch this space.

{Original Help Desk cartoon by Ho}

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4 responses to “Small fish / Big pond (or Flounder in the Shark Tank)…

  1. Steve Conway

    August 11, 2015 at 18:52

    Glad that Linked In is producing results for you. Keep up the good work. S

     
    • dalecooper57

      August 11, 2015 at 19:13

      Thank you Steve. They aren’t exactly “results” yet, as such, but you never know…

       
  2. John W. Howell

    August 11, 2015 at 20:57

    This sounds like a good idea. Good luck

     
    • dalecooper57

      August 11, 2015 at 21:29

      Thank you John, it’s a long shot, but it might just work…

       

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