Expanding your network

Occasionally, I drop by the local newspaper to visit my editor there. As a freelancer who writes a weekly column, I really have no need to go at all. Everything I need to do my work is available in my office at home. But I like my editor. I’ve come to enjoy the company of one or two reporters and photographers there, too. So periodically I stop by for visits that are far more social than professional.

The decision to be a freelancer was a conscious one, for me. I’ve always enjoyed having the freedom to write what I want to write. My first novel, Burritos and Gasoline came about in that way. It’s how I determine the subject matter of my weekly newspaper columns and most of my magazine work as well. Sure, I’ll take an assignment now and then. But a combination of my own curiosity and imagination are generally the driving forces behind what I write. I enjoy that freedom. It appeals to me.

A potential downside of the freelancer’s life is the fact that we can and often do work in self imposed isolation. And while we may become quite comfortable working on our own, it’s not in our own best interest to close the door to the outside world entirely. We need a network to call our own. Within that group we might include friends and family, former or current co-workers and of course – a collection of writers, editors and publishers we’ve been fortunate enough to build relationships with over the course of our careers. It’s wise for us to put forth the effort required to maintain that network. And when the opportunity presents itself, we should do what we can to expand our network in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

A case in point occurred to me this morning while I was jabbering away in the newsroom. A talented young woman I’ve been fortunate enough to work with in the past, broke the news that she was going to be leaving for a new position next week. After two years as a newspaper reporter, she pursued and was granted a shot as an assistant editor for a publisher that produces two high quality trade magazines.

Good for her. I’m sure she’ll be a great success.

The magazines her new employer puts out aren’t the sort of publications I would normally consider pitching a story to. It’s unlikely I’ll ever contact her in a professional capacity at her new home. But I will stay in touch. Perhaps one day she’ll have a suggestion for me that will be worth my while. Then again, I may be able to help her reach the next step on the ladder to the career she’s working toward. Whatever the case, both of us are working to maintain and expand our own networks.

It’s what professionals do.

Jamie Beckett – http://jamiebeckett.com

Author – Burritos and Gasoline

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Filed under The Writing Life, Writing

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