Susan E Caldwell

Susan E Caldwell

Getting known is an even bigger key to jobs and contract opportunities than we sometimes think. Getting known takes time, and you may have to push yourself to do it, especially if you prefer being alone. But it’s worth the effort, if you want to give your medical writing career a boost.  Here are my thoughts on how to get known and why you should do it.

Get Known Locally, In Person. My introverted readers won’t like this idea, but here it is: go to social or business events, even if you don’t want to. Say hello to people you don’t know; they’ll often be grateful you did, because they’re shy, too. Most people like to talk about themselves. So ask them about their job, their hobbies, their interests, and then let them start the ball rolling. Most of the time, you’ll be surprised how fast the conversation will flow.

Go to meetings and events held by various organizations. There are lists of business meetings available on the internet, including this example of a biotechnology meeting list. Do your own searches, and you’ll find other meeting lists of interest, too.

If you need to get known fast, you might want to find groups that meet weekly, biweekly, or monthly. It will take more time to get known in a group that meets quarterly.

Find and attend meetings with friendly people. Also important: find the groups with folks who are interested in you, and in whom you are interested. Those are the networking events that are likely to work best for you. They’re also likely to be the groups you stick with the longest.

When considering which groups to join, the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) should be near the top of your list. Attend their local and/or national meetings to cultivate medical writer friends. In the process, you’ll learn a great deal about medical writing and editing.

Another group you should strongly consider joining is the Drug Information Association (DIA). Their national meetings are huge networking events. They also offer high-quality educational opportunities, including medical writing classes and a job board.

Other groups you can join who have a science writing interest are the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW). Of course, there are many, many other organizations that may fit what you seek. Look for them by searching on Google or Yahoo to find the ones that are right for you.

When you’ve found the groups you’re comfortable with, go to their meetings often. Make yourself do it, even when you can think of reasons (excuses) to stay home. Think of this “getting known” thing as an effort that will take as long as your career does. It should be an ongoing effort that can eventually support your career and your psyche.

If you keep on attending your chosen groups, you’ll get known locally. Over time, you’ll also develop friendships that can blossom into a support system and business opportunities. Friends really do like doing business with friends.

Get Known Online, Locally and Worldwide. Use LinkedIn and other online business/social networks to build your persona on the internet. LinkedIn, in particular, has several nifty tools that will give your networking efforts a boost. Similar tools are available on other business networking web sites. If you have time, inclination, and/or are hungry enough, use all of them. You’ll be glad you did.

Check out social, service, and other nonprofit organizations, too. There are clubs of all kinds, some local and some online. Follow the Google nonprofit directory link, and it will lead to many more groups and organizations through which you can make contacts. For instance, that link leads to Consulting Resources for nonprofits, including fundraising and grant writing resources! Some more ideas on groups that may help flesh out your network:

  • Churches and synagogues
  • Social clubs
  • YMCA and other gyms
  • Special-interest groups (SIGs), such as stamp collectors or railroad hobbyists

Web Sites and Blogs. Whether you’re a staff medical writer or a contractor, you should have a web site and/or a blog. I’m being dogmatic about this because I believe it’s important. If you’re a contractor, it’s nearly essential. Many people have called or email to me ONLY after they looked up my company’s web site. Without my company’s web site, I would never have had the chance to speak with them.

In fact, when I first began medical writing consulting in 2005, a woman called me one day about a project. She said she had waited a long time before deciding to call me–because she couldn’t find my company’s web site on the internet. And here’s what really jolted me: she said she didn’t think my company was “real,” because we had no web site. The next day, I started working on the web site!

If you’re a staff writer, rather than a contractor, consider doing a blog instead of a web site. The blog format is different from a formal web site; it’s more conversational in tone. This allows you to show your knowledge in your field. Include information in your blog that’s helpful to other writers or folks who need writers.

You can express your personality on your blog, too, and this can help others get to know you better. If you have a good sense of humor, let it shine in your blog. Hosting a blog is another way to get to know people, exchange interesting ideas, and develop friendships. I’ll say it again: people like doing business with people they like.

Because web sites and blogs provide a way for people to get familiar with you, you may want to put your photo out there, a head shot that shows your eyes. It can help people to feel more comfortable with you, even if they’ve never met you. Make sure the photo shows a glimpse of who you are in the business world. It makes a difference.

Copyright 2009-2011  Biotech Ink, LLC. All rights reserved.

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