Placing too many limits on your memberships, subscriptions, and participation level doesn't help you get exposed to the bigger professional picture. In addition, you won't get exposed to as many professionals who might need your business services or who can refer you to others who do. I started out years ago as a generalist copyeditor. At this point in my career, I focus mostly on medical editing, but I'm not about to give up contact with and exposure to generalist editors and generalists in other editorial professions, because I can learn from them all and can get referrals from them all. I pay membership dues to
- The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA)
- The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
- The Council of Science Editors (CSE)
- The Board of Editors in the Life Sciences (BELS)
I subscribe to the following e-mail lists:
- The members-only list of the EFA
- Two AMWA members-only lists
- The members-only list of BELS
- Copyediting-L ([aka CE-L] and its all-topics-allowed spinoff, Copyediting-off-list-L [aka CEL-O], for camaraderie)
- Freelance, aka Publishing Industry Freelancers
- Medical_Writing: (disclosure: I'm also the list owner)
I appear in the online professional directories maintained by the following groups and e-mail lists:
- The EFA
- The CSE
I do volunteer work for the following groups:
- The EFA
Why do I do all of that, in addition to being visible on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? To learn, to grow professionally, to help others ... but most of all, to avoid the dreaded freelancer feast-or-famine work cycle.
I don't have any more time available in the day than anyone else does: I have a husband, three children, one grandchild, another grandchild on the way, in-laws (one of whom has Alzheimer disease) who live in my home, a dog, friends, and non-work-related interests. I'm also an officer in my husband's small company. I need to sleep, take time away from work, have a life. But I'm out there networking as much as I can, to keep my name and business image in front of as many eyes as possible. I haven't had to hunt for new clients in quite a long time (but I do so when I want to) because I'm always in lots of virtual places where people who hand out work can find me, learn about my skills and experience, and get a glimpse of my business personality and ethics.
I didn't join any profession-related associations with the expectation that benefits from being a member would just start flowing my way. Doing that would be as foolish as trying to get years of good mileage and trouble-free transportation from my car without ever putting gas in the tank, changing its oil, checking the wear and tear on the tires, or doing other maintenance tasks. I joined those associations because I know that you get something out of an organization only when you put something into it. Just paying membership dues or just subscribing to an e-mail list does not give you much of value. But getting involved in organizations and e-mail lists gives back a world of benefits, including the chance to make new business contacts, to impress potential clients and subcontracting-minded colleagues with the skills you display in communicating and doing volunteer work, and to build a reputation as a seasoned pro.
Want more choices for networking? Follow the links here for profession-related associations, e-mail discussion lists, and professional groups on LinkedIn and on Twitter. If you're a member of any editorial-related associations or e-mail lists not shown there, please tell everyone about them in the comments, and be sure to include links.
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