Networking for Editors
April 18, 2000
Freelance writer and editor John Faulkner has no résumé, no business card, and no Web site; he gets 100 percent of his jobs through networking. There's no doubt Faulkner's love of talk and penchant for people have played a big role in his success as a freelancer. But at the April 18 meeting he recommended a few tried-and-true techniques for making connections that lead to jobs.
Faulkner is a BAEF co-founder. The panel included software engineer and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and trainer, project manager, writer, and editor Brenda Goldstein.
First, Faulkner said, develop a strategy. Whether it's making cold calls or sending out letters, devise a plan and follow through on it. Second, be willing to fail. If you're offered a project that seems to be over your head, take it anyway. If nothing else, you'll learn something new—and meet new people. Third, when schmoozing with those in the know—say, the people manning the booths at the Bay Area Book Festival—take notes, get business cards. Finally, if you take a course, get to know the instructor; he or she expects to swap job ideas with students.
Faulkner's take on the current climate for freelance writers and editors is that "We're in heaven." Ten years ago, he and his fellow BAEF co-founders found themselves having to define what editors do and sell editors' skills. "Now our work is selling itself," he said.
People with good writing and editing skills are increasingly in demand, especially in the age of the Internet, where content rules, Faulkner said. Editing used to be an afterthought; now that Web sites are accessible all over the world, there is more emphasis on making copy as engaging and error-free as possible. (For a good introductory course on Web content, Faulkner highly recommends the Multimedia Studies course taught by Sam McMillan through San Francisco State University.)
Panelist Craig Newmark founded his San Francisco-based classifieds Web site, www.craigslist.org, as a tool for "helping people give each other a break." Known primarily for its extensive job listings—it also lists rentals, items for sale, and events—the site featured about 200 writing and editing jobs just in the two weeks prior to the April meeting; these comprised, among other areas, technical writing, editing, and journalism.
Much of the appeal of Craigslist is its local angle and informally written job descriptions. Newmark claims his is by far the most effective job search site in the Bay Area, and many in the audience concurred, having found jobs through the site. Craigslist also appeals to those who place ads: a 30-day job posting on the "partly nonprofit" site costs only $45.
Newmark, a self-described "recovering nerd," recommended an old stand-by, parties, as the ultimate networking tool. He suggested checking out www.sfgirl.com, a site with an ongoing list of soirees hosted and attended by the high-tech crowd.
In an ice-breaker led by Brenda Goldstein, audience members experienced networking firsthand. For fifteen minutes, participants traded tips pertaining to work and leisure, proving that networking is a combination of "exchanging information" and "having fun."