My latest blog post

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April/May 2020 © Gaby van Halteren

Make This Your A Part Of Your New Normal

Yes, the people in the image above are standing way too close to each other for our new normal. And yes, it might look like they're enjoying a nice evening with each other. But... they are also networking. We all are, all the time, even now. Maybe we do it digitally or 6 feet apart from each other, but it's still happening.

I read an article in which the author talked about gesture networking. I wrote down the term and thought I'd write a blog post about it in the future. Now that I decided to finally write it, Google is letting me down, I can't find it. For pages on end Google shows me search results about neural networks and gesture recognition—captivating reading, I'm sure, but not what I'm looking for. And, of course, I can't remember the name of the author. So I'm going to wing it here, hoping I can remember enough to make this interesting.

Needed now more than ever

What exactly is gesture networking? We all know what networking is (see above) and we all know what gestures are, literally and figuratively. This is about the figurative meaning of the word, not gesturing wildly while networking (not recommended). Basically it is about being nice to people without expecting anything in return, in any case not in the short run. A simple example: you are at some kind of (digital) event and someone asks you a question in your field of expertise. You're an editor specializing in romance novels and the first-time writer has a problem with writing a love triangle without making it sound cheesy or only repeating this well-trodden trope. You now have the choice: talk about a fitting solution without spending too much time on it or the writer so you can go on networking. Or you can take the time to explain, go deeper and tell the writer to send you the part of their novel they're struggling with, so you can take a look and recommend a solution. That last one, of course, is gesture networking.

Should you give away your expertise for free?

Short answer: yes. Long answer, also answering the follow-up question why: as you undoubtedly read somewhere before, people may not remember what you did for them or how you did it, but they will remember how you made them feel. Offering a first-time writer to do something for them for free to allow them to continue writing is unbelievably valuable for that, probably insecure, writer. As soon as they have finished their umpteenth draft, the one they think is good enough for an editor, they may contact you. Or not. Because they don't have the money. Because their mother (or cousin, or friend) offers to read it. That is a very real possibility. But they most certainly won't forget your kindness. They may come to you with their second novel or they may recommend you to another writer or mention you in a blog post or on a podcast or (fill in about a hundred other ways); the possibilities are endless.

But even if they don't and no extra work comes your way, you still will have done a very generous deed and helped that writer fulfil their dreams. You paid it forward. That is a beautiful thing. Also, gesture networking.


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