I already know: you don't like to do this.  The thing is, nobody does.  Well, there are some who do, but the truth is that overly solicitous networking can be fairly transparent, and even potentially offensive.  That's not what I'm suggesting you do.  But there is, or ought to be, such a thing as healthy networking, networking by honest enterprise, work, and exchange.  Networking does not mean that you get something for nothing, but--in its best suit of clothes--that you get something, or get noticed, fairly for your writing, for being a good writer.  You make friends in literature because it is what you are doing, too.

  • ADVICE. Networking comes in many guises, with enough friendly ones to put you at ease.  You can. of course, attend all the cocktail parties for visiting writers and try to suck up--realistically, this has worked in the past, perhaps better than we know.  But there are alternative choices here, really.  For example, do reviews of other people's work; try some author profiles; research and conduct some informed interviews.  One of the curious back doors that open up in doing these things is that you will forever be listed on their vitas, assuming you've had some success in publishing these efforts.  And think about that: when trying to publish these kinds of writing, it isn't just your reputation, but the other writer's as well that will help to place the piece.  This is not a bad deal, and good work here helps everybody, including the field of literature itself.
  • Try some writers' conferences, some artist colonies, some professional retreats.  You're there to work, but so are others in the field.  Without half trying, you simply will make friends, stuck together as you are where you are.  And without the outside world intruding.
  • Go to readings.  In this way, you will be starting a history for yourself in the field.  You don't have to say anything to the reader, not that night.  But you will meet these readers again in other places.  That you were at a reading will be a very pleasant and tolerably substantial place to begin a conversation.