Taking a few certificate courses at the local university were helpful for me. Most things I knew but some nuances and insider info from the profs helped. Some of the connections I made there were great. In fact, one of the profs even sent me some work one time and another girl from class got in touch with me with opportunities a few months later. So overall, for me, those classes were a good investment.
Choose a few groups to network with. I am a part of the local SPJ chapter and Ed2010 chapter as well as the AP. All good avenues to meet prospective clients as well as colleagues that can give insights into the industry. I am also a member of a few publishing industry groups and other entrepreneur groups. Some of these are great for meeting people who can be sources or fro story ideas. There is a story everywhere you know.
Another possible avenue is to volunteer your skills. I haven’t had much time to do this recently since I have had a pretty good flow of work coming in steady. Good problem to have but I do wish I volunteered more. If you are just starting out then volunteering positions are not just great for the experience but also the connections and you will be adding to your pile of clips so don’t forget how useful this can be.
Some resources you might just have to invest in include the AP stylebook or Chicago manual style if that is what the outlets you write for want. I have the AP stylebook and it has helped immensely especially with my copyediting work. You can find online options for these but something about flipping pages on a book and not having to add an additional tab to my already exploding window seems appealing. You agree?
Mentoring is big and finding one that will work with you is fantastic. If you can find one, that is, and one that you can have mentor for a long time if need be. Try to shadow or follow a few folks (with their permission of course) that do what you want to do or would like to do and maybe you can learn a few things from that experience. Their knowledge, connections, groups, expertise – so much that they could share with you so choose wisely.
If you have questions about anything please feel free to comment on the post or just mail me directly through the contact page. All of these pointers are solely from my experiences and if they help you, I am glad for it. If you have more to share, then please add your thoughts.