Networking is a bigger key to jobs and contract opportunities than sometimes meets the eye. Getting known takes time and effort–you may have to push yourself to do it if you’re a loner. But it’s worth the effort. You’ll find there are inexpensive (or no-cost), effective marketing tools you can use that didn’t exist 20 years ago.
Here are my thoughts on getting known, and how it can help your job search and career.
Get known locally, in the flesh. Our introverted readers aren’t going to like this idea, but here it is anyway: physically go to social or business events, even if you don’t want to.
Go to meetings and events held by various organizations; find and attend the ones that are the friendliest. 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 the best for you. They’re also likely to be the groups you’ll stick with the longest.
When you’ve found the groups you’re comfortable with, go to their meetings regularly. 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.
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA): attend the local and national meetings to cultivate medical writer friends.
Drug Information Association (DIA): the national meetings are huge networking events, and offer high-quality educational opportunities, including many medical writing classes and workshops.
Get known through social media. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other online networks to put your persona out there on the internet. LinkedIn has several tools that can greatly enhance your networking and job hunting efforts. Some of these or similar tools are available on other business networking web sites. If you have time and inclination, use all of them. You’ll be glad you did.
See other posts here for information about using social media to build your network.
Get known through web sites and blogs. Whether you’re a staff writer or contractor, you should have a web site and/or a blog. I’m being dogmatic about this because it’s important. If you’re a contractor, it’s pretty much essential. Many people have called or email to me ONLY after they looked up my company’s web site. Without that web site, I would never have had the opportunity to speak with them.
In 2005, I began my medical writing consulting practice, and I had no web site or blog. One day, a caller woke me up when she said that she couldn’t find my company, Biotech Ink, on the web. She said–get this–that she didn’t think my company was “real,” because I didn’t have a web site. Because of her call, I got my web site up and running within a few weeks. I was truly motivated.
If you are a staff medical writer, rather than a contractor, you may want to do a blog instead of a web site. Use the blog to show your knowledge in your field. Include information in your blog that’s helpful to other writers or folks who need writers. Consider guest-authoring an article on someone else’s blog, too. It’ll spread your work around, rather than having it reside in only one online site.
You can and should express your personality on your blog, and this helps others get to know you. If you have a great sense of humor, let it shine. Praise others for their good work, and cross-reference them (and their web sites) often in your posts. Discuss ideas and people that will interest your readers. Hosting a blog is another way to get to know people, exchange ideas, and develop friendships. I’ll say it again: people like doing business and working with people they like.
One more suggestion: because web sites and blogs provide a way for people to get familiar with you, you may want to put your photo out there. Use a head shot that shows your eyes. It can help people to feel more comfortable with you, even if they’ve never met you face to face. Make sure your photo shows a glimpse of who you are in the business world. It makes a difference.
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