“A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, approximately 1.97 billion people will be active on social networks by the end of 2014, according to a 2013 eMarketer study.
As freelance writers, we should utilize social networking in our everyday professional practice. Now, I’m not talking about trolling relationship statuses, improving your Candy Crush score, or sharing a pic of your breakfast platter. This type of social sharing doesn’t enhance your credibility the same way professional networking can.
Whether you’re looking for more contract opportunities, peer-reviewed writing sources, or a virtual shoulder to cry on when your inspiration well runs dry, networking with other freelance writers provides a host of benefits:
Creates a Support System
Sometimes, only writers can understand writers. As much as we adore our family and friends who work in other professions, it can be difficult for them to discern the need to shut yourself away while finishing an article. And forget about explaining how “good enough” writing isn’t good enough, or why you’re fighting with your Muse. Networking with other freelance writers provides a support system composed of like-minded individuals who empathize with both the blessings and burdens of the craft.
Connects You with Employment Opportunities
A freelance writing network can serve as a virtual phone tree for colleagues looking for new contracts. Within your network you can get the inside scoop on the latest employment leads, discover which employers to avoid, and gain access to editors, agents, and publishers who could further your career.
Helps You Hone Your Talents
We become better writers by eliminating professional tunnel vision and exposing ourselves to others’ work. Networking with other writers provides you with an invaluable body of knowledge to help hone your talents. Utilize your freelance writing network to read publications from authors in your vertical, discover varying writing styles and techniques, and expand your writing themes and vocabulary.
Gives You Access to Resources
Professionally mingling in freelance writing circles will keep a library of industry experts at the ready. Being able to quickly call on contacts for scholarly research or to find the perfect quote to round out your article can save valuable time and energy. Websites like ProfNet Connect simplify the process of searching for academic resources, following industry news and trends, connecting with peers in your field, or highlighting your own expertise.
Lessens the Loneliness
Stop playing “Lonely is the Night” on loop and own the fact that you have been called to an isolating profession. Unless you are a journalist pounding the pavement for onsite interviews and breaking news, most of your time is spent in solitude. Aside from the professional pluses that networking can afford freelance writers, it’s just really nice to know that you aren’t alone.
Reaching out to other writers will keep you grounded, eager to create, and remind you of why you are so moved by the written word. Not to mention that in networking, friendships could lead to professional partnerships. The writer who completes you, and your passion project, could be right around the corner.
How to Begin Networking
Unfortunately, there’s no Bat-Signal for locating other freelance writers. However, you can investigate freelance writing networks using the following suggestions:
• Search for freelance writing themed accounts on Facebook
• Use the #amwriting hashtag on Twitter
• Explore writers-only social networks
• Become a member of a professional association, like the ASJA, EFA or SPJ
• Join or create a LinkedIn group
• Visit co-working centers in your area
• Cliché or not, chat up the patrons furiously typing away on their laptops at your favorite Internet café or coffee shop
Has networking with other freelance writers enriched your life? Leave a comment and share your story.
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