If it weren’t for online networking with medical writers – as well as other writers, I wouldn’t have succeeded as a freelance writer.
As well as giving me more virtual medical writing colleagues, online networking has enabled me to make lifelong friends.
Writers have referred jobs to me, and I have referred jobs to other writers. In fact, one of my best clients came from my online networking efforts.
For writers, the benefits associated with online networking tend to include:
- Referrals, which lead to increased business and work opportunities
- Expanding your connections, which can also result in more work
- Advice, both giving and receiving, which is useful for beginners and experienced writers
- Boosting your confidence, by sharing tips as well as explaining what you do and why you do it
- Friendship and camaraderie, which helps you feel less alone, allows you to support other people and gives you a sense of belonging.
There are plenty of other benefits to online networking for medical writers, too – including benefits that aren’t directly related to business, like making new friends and the personal satisfaction gained from social interaction.
Freelancers who are used to working at home alone need to pay particular attention to their mental health and work stress, and networking can be a great way to promote a positive headspace.
It’s clear the benefits of stepping away from your device of choice and engaging with others are numerous. So, if you’re new to online networking, where should you begin? And, how can you find high-quality groups to join?
Online medical writing networking via LinkedIn
Perhaps the obvious choice is to begin with the king of online business networking, LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other like-minded professionals and boost your profile.
However, LinkedIn is both a blessing and a curse of sorts: There are many groups – so many that it can be difficult to know which groups are worth joining.
Due to the sheer number of LinkedIn users, you will always find that the most active groups have thousands of members.
But are all of these members actually engaged in the discussions? The answer is often no. However, as long as there is some form of lively and useful debate on the majority of the posts – which you can ascertain from the level of engagement on any given post – you’ll find it a benefit.
Engagement means comments as well as likes. Often, it’s not the articles being linked to that are most valuable but the comments beneath them. Sometimes I don’t even read the articles; I just like to enjoy the debate!
Engagement also means choosing quantity over quality. You need to be careful not to fall into the trap of joining a group with a catchy title only to realise that it’s full of people dropping links.
When I find a new LinkedIn group with an interesting-sounding title, I like to do a test to see if it’s worth joining: if the first ten posts have no engagement (ie zero Likes and Comments) then I usually don’t bother with it. If I can see some useful and recent debate, I join.
Here are a few medical writing-related LinkedIn groups that you may find helpful (note that members are current at the time of writing):
- European Medical Writers Association
- Medical Writing and Medical Communication Network
- American Medical Writers Association
- Professional Medical/Scientific Writers
- Applying Social Media in Health
- MedComms Forum
- Medical Writers Forum
- Copywriting Training
Online networking via Meetup groups for writing and freelancing
Meetup is a great way to find local groups that meet up in person as well as chat online. Look for general groups, not groups specifically related to health and medical writing. I’ve found that meeting up with other freelancers offers the opportunity to meet people in like-minded industries and professions, like graphic designers, editors, and public relations professionals, who are still great contacts to forge for work and future opportunities. Plus, getting out there and mingling in person is helpful for your mental health – particularly if you feel a little stuck, working alone.
I haven’t found any medical writing or health writing-related groups on Meetup yet (if you have, please post a link to them in the comments!) so why not start one in your local area?
PharmeMed for medical writing networking
PharmeMed is a business and professional network, similar to LinkedIn; however, the focus is in the healthcare sector and as a result offers more relevance.
Facebook for communities and groups
I’m a member of several active writing communities, like the Freelance Jungle. Most medical writing associations also have supporting Facebook groups. You can search for groups using the search function and see what’s around in your local area.
Facebook is a great way to network with other writers because people tend to stay logged in to their Facebook accounts all day long. That means alerts are instant, making response time rapid if you have an urgent question.
Tip: If you’re linking your personal Facebook account to a professional group, you need to be comfortable that your privacy settings are up to date and that your profile information is safe for work.
I’d love to hear about the online networking groups you’re a part of and why they work. Share in the comments below!