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be ethical

It is very important for your reputation that you remain ethical as you network. This can make or break you in your business. Writing is more than just putting words to paper. It involves everything you do connected with your work. You need to be ethical at all times.

What Are Ethics?

Per Webster, ethics is “a set of moral principles.” It helps to guide between right and wrong. It helps you not make major mistakes that could you get in trouble.

People like those with ethics. Politicians who are not ethical get in trouble and can lose their careers. Same can be said about any profession. Ethics are that important. It can make the difference between success and failure.

Ethics is not equivalent to legality. You can do something legal and still be unethical. There can be a fine line between the two, but they are not necessarily the same.

Unethical Practices

There are many unethical practices. The best way to explore them is to look at examples.

I was the wife of a pastor when I was asked to become the church treasurer. They asked because I was the most qualified for the job with over a decade of being an accountant, but it was the fact that I was the pastor’s wife that made the act unethical. For me to have control of the church’s money wasn’t right. Was it illegal? No, but it put me in a position that would have allowed me to do something illegal and also could have cast suspicion on my actions even though they might have been good.

Should you judge a contest at your kid’s school if one of the contestants is your nephew? Technically, only the rules of the contest can dictate if you can or can’t, but ethically you shouldn’t. Even if you are fair, others might not see that.

Many times, ethics comes down to how suspicious it might to other people.

Question Yourself?

Ask yourself if you would feel right if you were someone else looking on the same actions you are about to take. Would it seem fair? Would it seem unbiased? Would it open doors for suspicion or temptation.

If you are unsure, ask a trusted friend. Once my husband was in a situation where he was not sure something he had to do was ethical. It had to be done, but he wanted to be above suspicion. So he asked a trusted and respected member of the community. They advised him and witnessed his action. When others looked on it, they were relieved that all the corners were covered.

Distance Yourself

If you see someone doing anything unethical, you do need to distance yourself from them. It’s that you are being mean or betraying someone. Reputations can easily be sullied just by casual association. If you work with someone on a project and that person is caught doing something unethical on it, you might be questioned as well. Others might look at your actions with a questionable eye.

Protect yourself.

Follow up with people

This is a basic business practice that you need to incorporate into your networking. Remember that your writing is a business. Following up with people helps to establish those networking connections and strengthens them.


Following up with people is basic etiquette. If someone contacts you, it is only polite to respond. If you sent them something, you follow up to make sure they got it or are enjoying it.

Don’t leave situations hanging. Follow up and make sure there are no misunderstandings. They might think that they need more information from you or that you need something from them. By following up, you eliminate any confusion that might exist that you are unaware of.

Ask Questions

When you follow up with people, ask questions. Ask how are they doing, do they need more information, how are they enjoying your book. It all depends on why you were in communication with them. I have asked someone in Florida a followup question about the hurricane that just past. That’s all you have to do – follow up with relevant questions.


Sometimes you have to follow up with an apology. When you follow up with an apology, it gets their attention. It shows that you see blame on yourself even if there might not be any need for. That makes them respond trying to reassure you that all is well and also opens up the communication doorway.

Anytime you interact with people, it is good to follow up. Ask how they are doing, how the test went, are they over the flu? By following up, you make those network connections stronger.

Be willing to talk about things you aren’t familiar with

Not everyone has the exact same interests as you. They don’t always want to talk only about what you like. To be successful in networking, it is important to be able to talk about things that you are not that familiar with.

It’s Not All About You

All discussions do not have to be on topics that you enjoy or are familiar with. It shouldn’t have to be that way because all you want to talk about are things that interest you. The world doesn’t revolve around you or you wouldn’t have to network. You need to let others know that you care about their interests and are willing to talk about them.

Learn Something New

It is always fun to learn about something new. In networking, you always have that opportunity. Let’s say that someone is talking about going fishing for the weekend. If you don’t know anything about fishing, now is your chance to find out. Ask them where they go, what kind of fish they are looking for, and their fishing methods.

Show them that you care about their interests. That will get their attention and have them talking to you. Before you know it, they’ll be asking you about your interests. If you want people to notice you, you have to notice them.

You might even find ideas to use in a future story by talking to them about their interests..

Consider it Research

As you network and ask people questions, consider it research for future stories. If you ask questions about fishing, make notes. You might have a scene where this will come in handy. Also, make notes on who you were talking to about this in case you need to ask more questions.

I do this even when I hear that someone is traveling to a place I have never been. I ask questions. They enjoy the fact that I am interested in what they are doing while I enjoy the fact that I’m filling up my resource notebook for future stories. It is great fun.

Accept mistakes and learn from them

Everyone makes mistakes. That means you and me. It happens every day. How we deal with them can affect our networking success.

Don’t Fight

Step one is to stop fighting the fact that you make mistakes. Accept it. Arguing against will not help your networking endeavors. In fact, it could be shooting yourself in the foot if you do that.

Too often, I encounter people who just want to argue that they did nothing wrong. Stop that! Nothing wrong in admitting you made a mistake. We all do it. Fighting that fact makes you look like a fool. Just admit it and move on.

Evaluate Lesson

When you do make a mistake, it is smart to step back and evaluate what happened. There are lessons to learn with every mistake. Trust me, even small lessons can be found.

What happened to cause that mistake? Could it have been avoided? How can you avoid repeating it in the future? Ask yourself these questions and let the mistake help you grow to be a better person.

Laugh At Yourself

You need to learn to laugh at yourself even when you make mistakes. That is the first step in showing the confidence you need to succeed in this world. Someone who can laugh at themselves shows the world that mistakes don’t topple them, they only make them stronger.

When you laugh at yourself, you take away ammunition from the haters. They have nothing to hold against you because you laugh at what you did and move on with lessons learned. What better way to come out on top?


After all this, reflect on your mistake. Don’t ever forget you did it though you should never let it become the albatross around your neck. Rise above and lit the mistake create the strong foundation you stand on.

Would your grandmother approve?

As you network, stop and think if your grandmother would approve of what you are doing. I’m not kidding. If what you are doing would be shameful to your grandmother, you might want to rethink your actions.

A Different Light

When you look at your networking actions through the eyes of your grandmother, you see them in a different light. Too often we get caught up in the moment and the trends of society that we forget the basic roots that help keep us grounded.

Look at your actions through your grandmother’s eyes. You’ll see whether or not it is right, wrong, fair, or unfair. If nothing else, it makes you rethink your position so what decision you make is done after look at it from all sides.

We Could Argue It

Yes, it would be easy to argue that Grandma wouldn’t understand the idea of networking or the times we live in. Yep, we could, but we’d be wasting our breath. You would be surprised what Grandma could understand. There was networking long before the Internet came on the scene. She knew about it at church and in her own social settings.

Stop arguing, and think of how Grandma would view your actions.

Be Realistic

We need to get realistic now. If Grandma would think your actions were wrong, you might need to rethink them. We can argue all we want, but it is just our way to justify what we want to do.

Network in a way that will make your Grandmother proud.

Don’t flatter

Too often, people use flattery to advance their networking. On the surface, it might not seem such a big deal, but it seems fake, and people don’t like fake. Avoid the flattery.

Nice Versus Flatter

There is a difference between nice and flattery, and people know it. Flattery is “to praise excessively especially from motives of self-interest” per Webster. The praise might be real, but it goes above the normal. It is nice to say someone is a great cover designer, but to send them a message every day and post how wonderful they are over and over crosses the road to flattery. It can be excessive.

Dangers of Flattering

Why is it wrong to flatter? Because it can be dangerous. Flattery implies that you are saying something only to get something from it. That is why most people use flattery.

When people see flattery, they immediately begin to distrust you. That hurts your networking which in turn hurts your marketing. Flatter someone and you open the door to ruining your reputation.

Keep It Real

The best thing you can do is keep it real. Don’t fake it. Give people real compliments. Don’t fake it. People will take the real thing easier than anything you dish out that is fake. Your marketing will go much farther if you are real.

Accept feedback

As a writer who is networking, you need to be able to accept feedback. That is vital if you want to be seen as a mature writer with a good reputation. Accept feedback and use it to improve your own networking profile.

Positive and Negative

Feedback comes in two forms: positive and negative. You’ll get people who love your writing and say all sorts of good things about it. That is easy feedback to accept. What you really need to learn to accept is the “negative” feedback.

Negative feedback encompasses anything that you don’t like. If someone doesn’t like your writing, you have learn to accept it. You will always get negative feedback. Every writer gets it no matter how good they are. Accept that. It all comes down to how you respond.

The Response

Honestly, no one accepts negative response with a smile on their face. We all get upset. Not going to say that you can’t feel that way. What I am going to tell you is that you have to keep that response private. Your public response should be much more positive and upbeat.

Read the negative feedback and vent privately. Talk to your friends and calm yourself down. You don’t respond until you can do so with a smile on your face and only positive words. Thank the person for their feedback and tell them that you will take their words to heart.

Respond with a smile!

Grow From It

Now take that feedback and grow from it. You can take any feedback and gain something positive from it. If someone says your writing is juvenile, maybe it could obtain a little more maturity. Yes, that person might be nasty and vindictive, but you can still find ways to improve your writing. Every writer can improve. You just need to know where to grow.

After you get upset and vent, see where you can take it and benefit from it. The feedback might be painful, but in the end if it is the best thing for you.

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