I’m a big fan of networking and professional development. I’ve learned the importance of this from many friends and colleagues. No matter what you’re doing in life—whether it’s paid work or work you do with your family and in your community, and I include parents in this—you can benefit from getting together with others who are doing the same kind of work. You share your successes, commiserate about what hasn’t been working all that well, and get help and advice on how to make things better. This goes on all of the social media platforms, e.g.. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. It’s wonderful that we have so many ways to keep in touch so easily with family, friends, and business associates around the world. Isn’t it great to share both the professional and the personal stuff—especially photos, videos, and notes that we’d share if we were closer? It makes the global village a little smaller.
You can learn so much all without leaving the comfort of your home or office. That can get too comfortable though. You need to be there. Every once in a while you need to step outside that “comfort zone”, which for me is easy, but I recognize that it’s not that easy for others.
I always enjoy the opportunity to learn new skills to help my writing business. I had that chance twice last week—first a meeting with some members of the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU) and then at a seminar with members of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and the Professional Independent Communicators (PIC)—the Toronto branch of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Sorry to throw so many acronyms at you, but you’ll be glad of them as I continue.
The CFU meeting was a chance to talk about where the organization’s work has helped its members, what to continue doing, and what to improve. It was also a chance to map out where the group wants to go in the future. One of the key things put on the agenda: regular networking sessions—both in person, and virtually.
I got to chat not only with other writers, but freelancers in other fields. We learned that while we may do different work, the challenges of the “freelance life” are not all that different. Haven’t you heard, “misery loves company” and “a problem shared is a problem solved?” Well, it’s true on both counts.
The same was true at the Digital Day workshop organized by PWAC’s Toronto chapter and PIC. Writers and other independents working in communications [of all kinds] learned that they shared many of the same challenges. We also learned some strategies to make digital and social media work for us in more productive and lucrative ways. There were opportunities to do those things I talked of earlier: share successes, commiserate about what’s not working, and learn how to make things better. We heard too many great presentations to single any out so please do check the link to learn more.
Amongst all of this professional development was the opportunity to just hang out with friends I hadn’t seen for some time and catch up on their personal and professional lives. It was also good to talk about non-work related things with them [and with new acquaintances] outside of the meetings.
I was also able to meet with clients, making for a very productive few days. I came home feeling both energized and exhausted. I’m filling up my calendar and wallboard with notations of new deadlines, and filling my work journal with new ways of using what I learned.
In my last post, Still No Resolutions, I talked about not being a creature of habit. But I also talked about my—okay, I guess it’s a resolution—to try and make some better habits. Keeping up my networking, both online and in person, and attending seminars like this will do nothing but good.
While you already may be networking online all the time, take—no—make the time to do some networking in person. Please share your experiences here (you could answer the poll too, if you’re so inclined. I’ve never tried one of those before.) Join me again in two weeks when I talk to some experts about getting out of that comfort zone to make your learning—and your earning—better.