Networking for Freelance Editors Workbook: Practical Strategies for Networking Success

by Brittany Dowdle and Linda Ruggeri (The Insightful Editor, 2021), 182pp, £13.99 (pbk), £9.99 (ebk)
ISBN 978 1 73 642050 8 (pbk)

Reviewed by Sue Littleford

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Make no mistake – this is a workbook. There are many pages with prompts to stimulate your thinking and record your ideas and decisions. That makes the book far less daunting to tackle because the programme that Dowdle and Ruggeri guide you through is a practical one, and you get to keep pausing and do your own thinking, applying their guidance to your own circumstances and refining and using your previous answers.

Both authors are editors – one of fiction, one of non-fiction – so all the examples are of editors. The excuse that ‘that wouldn’t work in my context’ has just disappeared!

The book has two main parts – an exposition on networking, and a series of tactics to get you networking for real. The book is backed up by a website to download more blank worksheets, with additional information available via a blog and a newsletter.

The book tackles both networking for community and mutual support by engaging with other editors, and networking as prospecting for clients, noting that these can often overlap.

Part I points out that to network effectively, you need to know what you want to achieve, in order to know what kinds of people to connect with. But the authors are clear that networking is about relationships: it is not transactional. So as you shift your network’s focus to match your current aims, don’t jettison your former connections – who knows where they may lead?

This idea of relationships, conversations and mutual aid runs through much modern marketing advice. In a number of the webinars and workshops I’ve attended, marketers are adamant that selling at people doesn’t work, but that conversations do, building the public’s awareness of your existence and building trust that you know what you’re talking about and you’re good at what you do.

So I was pleased to see these same themes running through this book – there’s nothing here of the hard sell. Knowing that makes the whole networking thing less cringy. You’re letting people know what you do, making it easy for them to find you and, besides showing that you do indeed know what you’re doing, you’re also demonstrating what you’ll be like to work with.

Networking is, in effect, an extended job interview, but one where you don’t know who’s recruiting – nor precisely what they’re looking for, nor when they’re looking to hire. So you see how consistency of approach and showing up frequently and regularly in your social media and other networks pays off, and how you comport yourself in public can make or break you.

By the end of Part I of the book you will have noticed namechecks for and comments from at least four CIEP luminaries, so although the authors are American, this is definitely a book that works anywhere you can be connected to the internet. Another well-known CIEP name shows up in Part II, which we’ve now reached.

This part walks you through five tactics, or loci, where networking can happen, with pithy advice, and rounds off with a look at your personal networking style and avoiding pitfalls.

The book has appendices of resources and tips – and more copies of the worksheets. Dowdle and Ruggeri confess their love of worksheets, and then follow through. They are mighty handy for focusing the mind.

You are certainly best advised to do the exercises as you encounter each one, rather than reading on ahead, thinking you’ll loop back. As Louise Harnby says on the front and back covers, ‘Read it and do it’. I agree.

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