Networking Ideas and Examples for Editors — by Editors
Self-employed professionals rely on referrals to build a successful freelance career. Career professionals recommend regular networking to balance out your job application strategy: roughly 50% of opportunities would be online job postings and the other 50%—inquiries that you get through your network (the job opportunities that come to you). When you are offered a project or a job through networking, you are already known and trusted. This puts you in the position to compete on your value and reputation, not on cost.
In this article, 18 experienced freelance editors talk about networking success. We review, in detail, various networking situations and practical strategies, and examples from experience.
Self-employed writers and editors often prefer to work in the quietude of their offices. Marketing and networking are part of the workflow, yet not every editing professional enjoys them equally or plans them as regular activities. This post will help you improve your networking strategy and view it as ongoing relationship-building and communication.
1. Think about your motivation and mindset.
Why are you networking? Networking may be your commitment to maintaining or raising the standards in your industry—sharing quality information, supporting colleagues, and articulating problems and solutions. It is also a showcase of your communication skills—clarity, concision, respect, and professionalism. Additionally, it is a way to socialize and meet new colleagues.
Networking is not self-serving. It is about being useful to others, sharing your expertise, and building relationships to learn about and improve your niche or industry. When you approach anything as a contributor, you can—when necessary—ask comfortably for information or a favor for yourself.
Take some time to reflect on your comfort zone when it comes to networking. You will be expanding it over the years, but it is good to be aware of your current networking skills and habits. What networking activities do you enjoy at this point in your career? What networking activities have you been avoiding? Review these ideas every 2–3 months and expand your comfort zone gradually.
2. Observe your networking landscape.
Before you start posting actively on social media or participating in industry events, think about mapping your network.
First, write a list of the closest, most trusted people in your network. These are the people you can easily turn to with questions, requests, or doubts. They are ready to recommend you to others, get on the phone to discuss something, offer honest feedback, or help when you need them. Prioritize these warm relationships and aim to maintain them for years.
Now, write a broader list of all the communities in your life: former colleagues, university alumni, satisfied clients, friends, family, neighbors, reliable service providers, and people you met in cultural, sports, leisure, or spiritual organizations. Identify individuals in these groups who are supportive and inform them of your services and specializations.
Next, define your professional organizations and core client groups. You may want to start a separate digital folder for your networking strategy—a centralized place where you can save all your networking ideas. This may include lists of conferences and professional associations, target employers, and your content strategies. Who are your readers on social media? What are your client groups like? What kind of conversations do you want to have with your network?
The most frequent networking or marketing advice is to start with the people who “know, like, and trust” you. Think about this combination for a moment. Create a list of people who may feel that way about you. Create a list of people you know, like, and trust. Discover the intersections and matches you may not have thought about recently. How can you revitalize those relationships? Do those people know about your recent work or specializations? Do you know about theirs? Trust is built in small, consistent instances. Stay aware of such moments and opportunities to connect.
If you have apprehensions about your online visibility, you can make your professional online presence work in your favor and retain control over your personal data. For example, you can list a 1-800 number or a digital phone number (Fongo, TextNow, Burner apps) instead of your personal cell phone number to avoid spam calls. You can control your privacy settings on all platforms. The benefits of networking online often outweigh the disadvantages, if you use the tools with knowledge and care.
3. Develop your voice, online persona, and content strategy.
When you define your niche and feel ready to increase your visibility on social media platforms, think about your audience. What questions do they often ask about your services? What will you talk about online? What are you a subject matter expert in? What are your favorite content genres to produce?
Editors and writers often rely on cold emails. Try replacing them with more interactive networking activities where you can engage with people immediately: create insightful posts for your LinkedIn page, attend speed networking sessions during conferences, try Facebook groups in your industry, or invite someone to a short Zoom meeting. Increase your own visibility in ways that work for you, so that more people could reach out to you.
Let’s look at networking opportunities for writers and editors.
Network When Pursuing Professional Development, Certification, and Training
Good training is the foundation of any professional success. If you are planning to invest in certifications or training programs, consider all the options (online, hybrid, and in-person). Review carefully all the feedback you can find about online programs, on-site courses, international residencies, or summer institutes. These formats may provide you with a new network of peers—an invaluable addition, especially if you work mostly remotely. Stay in touch with the students and instructors you meet during your training.
For a list of editing programs in the US, Canada, and elsewhere, click here.
For a searchable Guide to Writing Programs (US) by AWP, click here.
“As a freelancer, I spend much of my time editing cookbooks, while also instructing copy editing in a certificate publishing program. One evening, still at my desk, it occurred to me that the intersection of these two pursuits would be teaching recipe editing. […] I spent the next few months creating a seven-week online course, which I now teach three times a year. It has been one of my most fulfilling professional development endeavours, and my contribution to the program. Since then, I’ve been approached, including via LinkedIn, by publisher clients and authors looking for a recipe editor. And in the classes, I’m connecting with other editors, both new and established, as well as with food writers — in Canada and beyond. Sure, I had a ready platform for the course, but if I hadn’t, there were other avenues to explore, such as offering workshops through the local editors’ association. Consider in what niche you might position yourself as a SME — a subject matter expert — and where you might offer your niche insight — then go for it!” — Judy Phillips
Network as a Member of Professional Associations
If you are relatively new to professional associations, start by outlining your professional development budget. Other than your time, there may also be fees involved — association membership dues, paid webinars, paid subscriptions, or other professional events. Choose to pay for what’s truly necessary and make the best use of these purchases. When you approach it with intent, you are motivated to use the tool or the opportunity fully. Invest in one or two professional organizations that you select carefully. Ask colleagues about their experience prior to joining.
For a list of professional associations for editors, click here.
For a list of conferences for editors, writers, and publishers, click here.
“For me, networking is about building a community of practitioners who support one another. I don’t think of it as work, but it benefits my work and hopefully the work of my colleagues. I join things. I join editing forums on Facebook; Editors Canada and other association meetings, webinars, and related events; the ACES Twitter chat—and other Twitter editing groups. I have gained clients through editors I meet during this type of networking. Several months ago, I joined a group of editors who meet every month to chat about different editing topics. At one meeting, an editor mentioned she had a project she didn’t want to do—that she’d give it away if she could. So, I emailed her after the meeting and offered to take the project. We worked out a sub-contracting deal and I completed the project for her. Later, because she knew the quality of my work, when a different client contacted her for a project, she suggested it to me, I agreed, and she connected me directly with the client.” — Katherine Morton
Once you get a membership, write down how you can make the best use of it over the course of the year.
✓ Introduce yourself to the association leaders. Mention your specializations and ask what you can contribute to the organization.
✓ Attend networking calls for members and speak about your specialization(s) and niche(s). If you are not finding enough of such calls, initiate a few yourself. Come prepared, be interested in others, and follow up after the call (every two months or so).
✓ Attend webinars, local chapter meetings, or an annual conference; follow up with every presenter or attendee you spend some time with in-person. Get in touch every 2–3 months after the initial meeting to maintain a connection.
✓ Propose and conduct a webinar.
✓ Volunteer for the association in any other way that fits your goals, schedule, and skillset.
✓ Serve on the association’s board or conference organization committee. Contact the board and the committee to introduce yourself and ask if there is a role for you.
✓ Check the list of conference sponsors. Research those organizations and connect with their decision-makers.
Share your expertise:
✓ Write an article for the association newsletter or blog (500–800 words).
✓ Join association-run social media groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.
✓ Offer to share your specific expertise with colleagues via private email exchanges or one-on-one Zoom calls.
✓ Create or update a list of industry-specific resources (if applicable) to be published on the organization’s website.
✓ Initiate a collaborative blog post with several other colleagues.
Improve your online presence:
✓ Create and upload your association directory listing.
Learn about your industry:
✓ Read association newsletters in their entirety. They may give you specific ideas or inspiration.
✓ Review association archives available to members (recorded webinars or other members’ articles). Connect with the authors whose content you find helpful.
Join a mentorship program:
✓ If your association offers a mentorship program, learn more about it to become a mentor or a mentee.
“Active association membership has been my main networking strategy for many years, and I belong to several organizations and online groups for writers, editors and proofreaders. That strategy has led to invaluable friendships and connections with colleagues who often refer, recommend or even subcontract work to me, as well as opportunities to do paid presentations, both in person and virtually. As a current example: I’ve been active in the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists (GSLABJ) since I worked for a local black weekly newspaper back in the 1970s, and have stayed friends with several colleagues ever since, reconnecting in person now that I’m back in St. Louis after living elsewhere for many years. Recently, one of those colleagues recommended me to the local business journal for freelance writing assignments — and now I’m doing regular work for the journal.” — Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
While it is common for many professionals to attend the biggest conference in their industry once a year, it is also worth exploring various other ways of attending events. Your industry’s biggest conference is certainly the event of the highest quality (and intensity) in your line of work, but it requires an investment and planning that are not always easy to achieve.
As a freelance editor or writer, you can network broadly or selectively (locally or within certain niches).
To network broadly, you can attend a business networking meetup in your city. This may help in expanding your comfort zone. You are not under any obligation to stay. Have an approximate goal in mind: introduce yourself to three people, find several people who may use your services, and/or learn about the upcoming group events. Or—improvise and simply enjoy your time.
Create a list of interesting events in your area. Schedules can fill up quickly with obligations. Plan ahead to attend professional, cultural, or wellness/leisure events in your area—for inspiration. When you are relaxed and enjoying yourself, you may easily meet interesting connections.
Attend your local chamber of commerce events, even if they are not directly related to your line of work. Have business cards ready to distribute during introductions. Simply learn about other people’s work and specializations and share a few words about yours. Networking may happen naturally when you don’t have a specific goal in mind other than learning more broadly about your community.
Share your expertise as a presenter. Conduct workshops, presentations, or webinars (paid, unpaid, or by donation for a cause) at a variety of organizations, depending on your community groups. These can include national professional associations or their local chapters, national conferences, chamber of commerce events, local universities and colleges, non-profit organizations, business summits, library event programs, or small community group gatherings.
“I presented two sessions at the 2022 in-person conference for ACES: The Society for Editing. Multiple people came up to me after the sessions to ask me questions and chat about the content. In fact, one of the attendees approached me about speaking to their team about one of the topics, which I’ll be doing soon. More generally, I’ve done many speaking events for editing organizations, and they get my name out to the editing community, which has led to editors approaching me about doing presentations for their own groups or referring me for projects that they think I’d be a good fit for. As scary as it is to present in front of people (my nerves will never go away no matter how many speaking events I do, it seems!), it’s been worth it.” — Crystal Shelley
Other options include facilitating panel discussions or recording a high-quality “how-to” video and sharing it via your YouTube channel or on LinkedIn. If you’ve never done a presentation for a large audience, start where you know your audience best. Most people who attend your event are interested and supportive to begin with.
“I recommend joining your local chamber of commerce/board of trade so people get to know you and what you do. Asking if you can volunteer at events (e.g., greet people, serve wine, distribute materials, be in charge of a booth) can help a lot if you are not comfortable walking up to a group of people to introduce yourself to them. It helps especially if people who already know each other tend to hang out together; it gives you something to do and makes it a lot easier to start chatting with people and talk about your services. Have business cards with you at all times and if you don’t, ask people if they are on social media and add them to your network as soon as possible before you forget. On the back of the business cards you receive from other people, write details about them—their position/role, their specialty, where they live, where you met, etc. When sending or receiving an email for the first time to someone you met, add them to your contacts and write such details about them.” — Marie-Christine Payette
Network Online and on Social Media
Subscribe to email listservs in your niche. They are excellent places to ask a question, see a job posting, or learn from colleagues’ discussions. On occasion, you can respond to a colleague’s email to introduce yourself and your services.
“My primary marketing strategy involves reaching out to other writers, editors, and other creative individuals to get to know them, build a community, and potentially pursue a collaboration. Some of my favorite platforms include Facebook and LinkedIn. I enjoy this approach because it’s more one-on-one than most social media marketing and enables me to get to know unique, like-minded individuals in my field. In this way, if we decide to work together more formally, we will do so with a deep understanding of the other individual and how we can provide mutual support. Nowadays, I find most of my work through editor referrals, and these are the same editors I turn to if I have a question about my business or otherwise. I highly recommend this more one-on-one approach that has enabled me to build a strong, supportive community.” — Shaina Clingempeel
If you use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, focus your efforts to make the best use of each of these channels. Facebook can offer high-quality professional groups, with private settings for commenting and posting. On Twitter, you can identify company pages and professionals who post job announcements. Twitter is often used by publishers and managing editors. LinkedIn is optimized for longer content. With a complete profile, recent recommendations, and 500+ connections, your profile will appear in the searches more often. You can also find thought leaders and decision-makers, engage in discussions with them, follow up after you’ve applied for a job, and/or build your own audience with quality posts.
“I’ve gotten jobs and met future clients through Twitter. I actually got my first job working on an RPG through Twitter when the game creator reached out to me directly. When I first started my Twitter account, I tried to post what I thought I should be posting, but I got very little response. However, when I tweeted about topics I was passionate about (science fiction, mysteries, cider doughnuts, cats, etc.), that was when I had more engagement. I would encourage newer copyeditors/freelancers to post regularly but never too much in one day—I like to stay around five tweets or fewer per day—and to try to have some of your tweets relate to editing in some way. Other editors may advise you not to get too political in your tweets, which was advice that I initially followed. But then I realized that most of the clients who I want to work with will likely have similar views as me. For example, I wouldn’t want to work for someone who was staunchly pro-life. One of the best parts of being a freelancer is getting to pick who you work with.” — Rachel Lapidow
Be visible on your primary platform, consistently. Schedule time to network. It can be toward the end of the day, once a week. It can be 2–3 short, 20-minute pauses throughout the work week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday). Make it a regular, pleasant, and structured activity. You don’t want networking to feel like another chore. Make it about learning and inspiration.
“My preferred social media platform is Facebook, and as both an editor and a writer, I frequent various Facebook groups for either. In one editors’ forum, I happened to mention in a reply to someone else’s post how much I love picture books. Out of the blue, a managing editor for a hybrid press responded in turn, asking if I would be interested in working on picture books for them. Following a “Yes, please!” I did a sample edit, and now half my work (and very well paying at that) comes from that chance encounter. All of which goes to show that you never know whom you might connect with online, even when you’re not actively marketing your services—as long as you show up.” — Robin Larin
Consistent engagement (your commenting on others’ posts) and visibility should be your goals, not a specific number of followers or likes. Your networking approach will evolve – but it’s important to start with a good knowledge of your audience and yourself.
“The best decision I made was branching out from Upwork and creating my own brand, Editing by Sierra. I created my own website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Instagram. Since then, I have found several clients off Upwork, which has even given me the opportunity to work with a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. My best advice to fellow editors? Take that leap, create your dream business, and network actively!” — Sierra C. McLean
To measure your networking success on LinkedIn, look at the number of qualified leads and inquiries. These may be potential clients, colleagues who want to start a collaborative project, invitations to serve on committees, or invitations to apply for a job.
“I followed a fellow freelance editor on Twitter because I agree with her about a lot of language and editing issues and because her posts—which are often on topics other than editing—are lively and witty. After we had followed each other for a while, she knew that I specialize in quick turnarounds and that, unlike most editors, I often don’t book my clients in advance; instead, I use a first-come, first-served style. So when she was too busy to take on a job, she’d see whether I was available, and if I was, she’d give my contact information to the client. After I’d done several jobs like this and the clients were very happy with my work, she gave my name to a U.S. government agency, which hired me to edit an employee manual. I’m relatively new to Twitter and wouldn’t have thought that I could get a job like that by simply playing with language with other editors in 140-character bursts.” — Joanie Eppinga
Network with Past Employers and Past Clients
As much as possible, maintain positive relationships with everyone you have ever worked with. When leaving an employer, write a polite note and thank them for something that you genuinely enjoyed about their environment or work processes. Keep a neutral or positive relationship with the company. You may need to ask them for references, or they may recommend you to someone else in the industry.
Compliment your clients while working with them. Point out what they are doing right, in specific terms. This is a good way to strengthen a relationship and support your clients in their next step. The confidence boost they get from you will encourage them. They may not be aware that what they are doing looks great to others.
Don’t neglect opportunities to build or improve a relationship with your current boss or client. If you can improve some process, do not hesitate to offer ideas or resources.
Consider sending holiday cards or other networking cards with your logo/design on holiday occasions. For example, you can send a winter holiday card to all the clients you worked with in a given calendar year. This can be a simple holiday greeting, or you can add a personalized note or a comment about your availabilities after the holidays.
Keep a list of all past clients with brief notes and contact information. You can occasionally contact them to announce a change in your services, ask for an introduction, or share a specific idea that will be of value to them.
“If you need more work, I encourage you to write to a former client (or a few!) today and ask them to tell their colleagues about how you can help them. ‘Tapping into your existing networks is a great way to find more work. A lot of editors think there is something wrong with admitting that are not fully booked and that we need work, but I figure that my clients will be happy to hear that I do have time available to help them or others who might need editorial assistance. I find the best approach is to let them know that I have some timeslots available and then to add a short paragraph explaining the problem that I solve and ask them to forward my email to their colleagues.” — Malini Devadas
Network with Past and Current Colleagues
On a regular basis, meet new colleagues, learn about their specializations, and talk about yours. Editing is a collegial profession where many people are interested in each other’s work. You can ask colleagues about potential employers you are considering, share the projects you are working on, refer clients to your colleagues, and more. Here are some ways to meet new colleagues and maintain connections:
Keep a list of people with whom you have collaborated on projects (big or small, remote or in-person) in the past. In the rapid flow of events, it is easy to forget collaborations that may have given you great contacts. At the end of each project, send a thank you note. Summarize the successes of the project and what you enjoyed about it or the work process; offer a recommendation, request a recommendation, or express your wish to keep in touch for future opportunities. The situation will suggest how to phrase your message, but it is always a good idea to send a positive final message of some kind.
Initiate a mastermind group with 2–4 other colleagues. What brings you together? It can be a common project (conference/event preparation, growing your independent practice, transitioning from a full-time leadership role to a consulting practice); a common situation (you are all looking for a new job sooner or later); a common cause in the community (board leadership, parent-teacher association, wellness routine). Set up regular activities to connect and discuss your goals and work processes. Hearing first-hand accounts of people at a similar career level or in a similar situation may give you valuable ideas to move forward.
“I’ve made an ongoing effort to start conversations with other local editors. Taking the initiative to introduce myself has so often been met with a warm welcome! Our conversations have grown into friendships, professional collaborations, and now a small community that turns out for our free and unaffiliated networking events a few times a year. (I’m a happy member of the EFA and ACES, but in Kentucky we don’t currently have the support of local chapters of these national organizations, and so we are currently enjoying the silver lining of not needing to treat affiliation as a barrier to attendance.) I’ve learned that it’s valuable to network so that I can offer clients solid referrals. Inviting new people to events also gives me regular opportunities to increase awareness of my editing services.” — Adrielle Stapleton
To meet new colleagues online, take a look at the directory of members of your professional association. Are there professionals with whom you could partner for a project/article publication, schedule an informational interview, or simply ask a question based on their expertise/specialization?
Attend a webinar by a colleague. Take notes and send them a thank you email afterwards. Mention specifically what you learned and how it was useful in your line of work. Share a few words about your specialization and/or offer future collaboration, if applicable.
“It may seem counterintuitive, but my best source of new clients comes from networking with other editors. By socializing with other editors, I help them get to know and trust me as a person. Too, I help them get to know my business. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going into a group, asking if anyone has overflow work. That devalues a fellow editor’s efforts. Nor am I announcing how I have no work, hoping to play on people’s sympathy.
Instead, I’m participating in groups to be part of a community. I join groups that appeal to me and relate to my work. I ask questions and answer them. I share my thoughts and a little of my life, where appropriate. Above all, I support other editors, whether it’s commiserating or celebrating, sharing resources, or referring editors for work that doesn’t fit what I do. In other words, I act as a member of the community. Because that’s what I am. The full editing community is an incredibly supporting place. When we make an effort to do for each other rather than just for ourselves, the results are amazing.” — Erin Brenner
Network with Potential Clients, Employers, or Partners
“I didn’t know about how innovations diffuse through hubs and networks when I started landing writing opportunities through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s network. After working in mechanical engineering and science editing, I had moved to New England and was living on the North Shore near Boston. Once I began networking in MIT’s orbit, I was introduced to a nonprofit executive director who offered me a rare opportunity – the chance to co-found a news startup. This startup, Clean Energy Finance Forum, attracted attention from decision makers, was acquired by Yale University and led to many other doors opening. Meanwhile, a variety of other leads from MIT startups and departments have appeared for me as well. It really is true that connection with an innovation hub can open new professional horizons.” — Kat Friedrich
Know where your potential clients gather and how you can be present there. You can attend events, read the publications your clients read, and explore potential employers, partners, or clients in your location. Look at the lists of local conference sponsors and the website of the chamber of commerce in your city.
“I periodically attend webinars and seminars for medical-legal experts so that I can be in the same room, so to speak, with my target clients. I pick topics that I find interesting and that I can apply to my work as a medical-legal editor. I take special note of lawyers and medical experts who are presenters or panellists and whom I would like to get to know. After the seminar, I send the person a personalized connection request introducing myself and telling them how much I enjoyed their presentation. I briefly state what I do so that they understand my interest in the seminar, and I leave it at that. I don’t try to sell anything or pitch my services. I just start a conversation and make a connection. Sometimes this has resulted in immediate work, and in other cases, after my new connections have seen me share relevant content over time, they approach me for help with their reports.” — Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa
Create a list of 10–30 potential employers, research these organizations, and connect with their decision-makers as well as current and past employees on LinkedIn. Do this preferably when you’re not actively looking for a job. Past employees can share ideas about the company culture. Current employees can make introductions or post about the latest job openings.
“When I first started my editing business, I ran a giveaway on Instagram offering a discount for my book editing services. To entice authors to enter the giveaway, I decided to make it a package deal. I reached out to another business in the self-publishing industry – a book printing company called 48 Hour Books – and spoke to someone on their team about joining my giveaway and offering a discount for printing services. They agreed, and the giveaway went well. But what really helped my business was when they added my information to their website’s publishing resources page. Since then, most of my clients have come from their reference. I was lucky to find a company so open to partnering with a new business, and I am ever grateful for the kindness of their team and their services for self-publishing authors.” — Kara Bernard
Network in Your Niche and Outside of It
Build or expand a network of professionals who work in the fields that intersect with yours. For example, as a resume writer, I may network with graphic designers, editors, wellness coaches, leadership coaches, social workers, lawyers, interview coaches, immigration consultants, and business trainers.
“I form connections with people who work in other capacities in the medical-legal field. If I see that someone does business with or offers services to medical-legal experts (e.g., marketing, transcription, virtual assistance, web development), I will contact them to introduce myself and set up a networking call to learn about what they do and what kind of referrals they would appreciate. This has greatly enriched my network and led to meaningful, long-term, and mutually beneficial working relationships.” — Jahleen Turnbull-Sousa
Identify the industries and fields where your services intersect and build a network of such professionals through meetups, introductions, industry events, or referrals. It is easy to forget earlier points of contact; consider creating a spreadsheet of individuals, their services, and contact information for future reference.
“I’ve found clients by networking with other editors and writers both inside and outside my own niches. By networking within my niches (corporate, legal, and nonfiction), other editors and writers get to know that I’m a reliable referral for projects that they can’t take on themselves for some reason (when they’re too busy or on vacation, for example). But by also networking with editors who don’t work in my preferred niches, those editors discover that they can refer those types of inquiries to me. I will do the same for them when I’m approached for work that falls into their niches, so we both benefit from getting to know each other’s work preferences. When a potential client approaches me, it’s always nice to be able to help them out with a few contacts when I’m not the right choice for their project. Being a member of an editors’ association and attending conferences makes this kind of networking much easier.” — Michelle Waitzman
Network with Hiring Managers
After you have applied for a job online, find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and send them a request to connect. In your short introductory note, let them know that you have just applied and are available to provide additional information. This is done to show your interest and highlight your availability. This also invites them to review your LinkedIn page for additional details, which a hiring manager would do anyway. Make it easy for them to find you.
If you were not hired but the experience was positive and you continue to be interested in this company, follow up, ask to connect on LinkedIn, and offer to keep in touch in the future. Express what you liked about their interviewing process. Be a memorable candidate. A new role may become available at some point or the hiring manager may recommend you to their colleague who is hiring.
Network While Volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to grow your network. Be strategic about the amount of free work you are willing to do to gain exposure or new connections. While a strong commitment to a cause is one of the pillars of your service to the world, trying to enter a new field of work through free labor may devalue the work and not bring you the desired satisfaction. People do not always appreciate free work. Make sure your pro bono engagement is meaningful to you at the moment, regardless of the outcome, and puts you in a room with like-minded people.
“One networking activity that I enjoy using and which has brought me new clients is working collegially with colleagues on large projects and as a volunteer on professional development committees or task groups. In both cases, I can show my experience and professionalism, learn from others, and contribute to a much larger project. There are obvious networking benefits – for example, some of these large projects have resulted in repeat work over 20 years; one committee I worked on resulted in at least two recommendations by colleagues to their clients, one for a very large report and another for over 10 publications. Another benefit is that I can teach (formally or informally) or update still more clients with any public news about the professional development work — for example, by sending an occasional update about plain language standards to a repeat client I know will be interested in the subject. We all benefit.” — Laura Edlund
Network Broadly in Your Community
Do your service providers have your business card (property management company, massage therapist, hairdresser, etc.)? Exchange business cards; leave your business card in offices that have a dedicated space for guests’ cards. Give your business cards to some of your friends; they may be able to pass them on to those who need your services.
If you are a parent, have you been actively getting to know other parents at your child’s school? Your children may be forming friendships that will last 10–20+ years. Consider spending more time speaking to other parents in your school.
Attend an in-person event every month or so. This can be related to your hobbies: walking tours in the city, meetups, a library reading, an art show opening, or a dinner at an organization where you are a member/donor. In a less formal environment, it may be possible to build new connections while enjoying an event you would attend anyway. If you do meet interesting people, give them your business card and follow up a few weeks after the meeting.
Attend a community event dedicated to the cause you support. Talk to people about their current and potential projects—and yours. Distribute your business cards and follow up every 2–3 months to stay in touch with the people with whom you had a good connection.
My hope is that among the variety of suggestions here, you feel inspired by one or two new ways to grow your network and let new people know about your services.
“Anytime I can, I talk about the services I offer, the fields I specialize in, and the types of documents I am working on. Don’t assume that because people—even colleagues, family and friends—know you, they know/remember your skill set. Often, people don’t really know what a language professional does whether it is an editor, a designer, a translator or an indexer. Make sure people know you, make sure you are visible whether it is at in-person events, on social media, within professional organizations or through blog posts.” — Marie-Christine Payette
Additional resources on networking for self-employed editors and writers:
About the Authors:
Copyeditor: Rebecca R. Ford, Ph.D., is a freelance editor and proofreader whose interests include memoir, historical fiction, and academic writing in the humanities.
Editors quoted in the post:
Kara Bernard is a professional book editor and writing coach, offering developmental book editing services. She specializes in YA/NA fantasy novels and is the founder of Bernard’s Editorial Services.
Erin Brenner runs Right Touch Editing, an editorial services agency that provides individual and team-based writing and editing services for small to midsize businesses and professionals who write. Erin has been blogging since 2009, authoring hundreds of posts for Right Touch Editing, as well as blog posts and articles for a variety of publications, including Virtual Thesaurus and ACES. She is an advanced professional member of CIEP, a partner member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, and a Full Member of ACES.
Malini Devadas, Ph.D., is an editor and academic writing coach.
Shaina Clingempeel is the owner of Shaina C: Editing & Proofreading. She specializes in editing poetry, literary fiction, and memoirs and also edits a diverse array of fiction, nonfiction, web content, professional content, academic content, and more. She earned her Writing MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Laura Edlund is an editor and writer with a focus on education, stories, and plain language. She tends to work on developmental edits, which develop content, structure, and style for nonfiction and fiction. Recent projects include a complex technical report for a broad audience and a government client, a handbook for students and their families, and a memoir.
Joanie Eppinga is the owner of Eagle Eye Editing & Writing, which provides editing, proofreading, writing, and/or formatting for businesses, publishers, academics, museums, and the federal government. Eppinga is an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has won national press awards in the category of Interviews.
Kat Friedrich is an entrepreneurial journalist who has combined engineering, technology, and writing for 27 years. She is the editor in chief of Solar Today, a senior writer at Hoffman Power Consulting, and a contributor at Popular Mechanics.
Rachel Lapidow is a freelance copyeditor, proofreader, and developmental editor who works on RPGs, board games, comics, manga, and fiction. Some of the RPG projects she’s worked on are Return to the Stars, Blue Planet: Recontact, Upwind, Honour, and The Last God: Tales from the Book of Ages.
Robin Larin is a freelance editor and writer who holds master’s degrees in literature and creative writing and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. She specializes in developmental editing and stylistic copy editing of SFF, literary, and children’s fiction and loves working with rhyming picture books. The Featured Volunteer profile writer for Editors Canada, Robin lives in Ontario, Canada, with several feline editorial assistants and more books than she can count.
Sierra McLean founded Editing by Sierra to better connect with her clients. She offers professional proofreading and developmental editing services. She worked with a New York Times and USA Today bestselling fantasy author. Sierra specializes in editing fantasy, romance, science fiction, and young adult novels.
Katherine Morton, MBA, BA, is a freelance editor in the academic, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, simplifying and clarifying materials for target audiences.
Marie-Christine Payette is a freelance translator-editor. She started her own business in 2011 and offers French editing and proofreading, comparative editing (English and French) as well as English-to-French translation. She specializes in medical, fiction (YA), academic, and corporate communications. She is a member of ACES: The Society for Editing, Editors Canada, and OTTIAQ. She received the Editors’ Canada President’s Award for Volunteer Service in 2018 and in 2021.
Judy Phillips is a freelance editor and proofreader. She also teaches editing at SFU Continuing Studies and TMU’s Chang School of Continuing Education, including through her Editing Recipes and Cookbooks course.
Crystal Shelley is the owner of Rabbit with a Red Pen, where she provides editing and authenticity reading services to fiction authors. Drawing on her background as a social worker, she unites her love of language and her passion for social justice by pushing for writing and representation that is more dignified, intentional, and just. She is the creator of the Conscious Language Toolkits for Editors and Writers, serves on the board of ACES: The Society for Editing, and is an instructor for the Editorial Freelancers Association. When she’s not working with words, she’s probably swearing at a video game. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Adrielle Stapleton, M.A., provides copyediting and proofreading support in AP, CMOS, and related house styles. She has a certificate from the UC Berkeley in Professional Editing and has experience working with a hospital network, an academic journal in the humanities, nonprofits, small businesses, and academic researchers.
Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, the owner of the An American Editor blog, has been active in more than a dozen professional associations. She created and hosted the “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference for Communication Central and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE).
Michelle Waitzman is a non-fiction author and a professional writer, ghostwriter, editor, and plain language trainer. Before her writing and editing career, Michelle worked in TV production and corporate communications. She is a member of Editors Canada, PLAIN, and the Canadian Freelance Guild.