Singing the Benefits of Making In-Person Connections

By Jackie Dishner

Jackie Dishner

Oh, solo mio!

Does that song ever play in your head when you’re sitting with your laptop, alone, working on that rough draft or next pitch?

It does in mine. I have days when I absolutely do feel lonely in this profession. I need to see someone. But not just the guy who passes by my window at night with his flashlight beaming. Or the woman who walks her six yapping teacup poodles up and down my neighborhood street. No. I need to see other writers. I want to know what you’re up to, what deadlines you’re working against, what projects you’re trying to sell. I want to know how you’re surviving this economy that keeps closing the doors to magazines we will no longer be able to pitch. Sometimes, I need your consultation.

And that’s why I network on writer forums like ASJA’s or get my water cooler moments on Facebook. It’s why I join the occasional Twitter party for industry updates. But sometimes that’s not enough. I need to make eye contact, exchange a business card, go to your book signing and get your autograph. I need to make that human connection that proves I’m not alone in this profession after all.

Even though ours is a solopreneurship, I don’t always want to do it alone. That’s why I initiated the new ASJA-Arizona chapter. With at least 10 of us living and working in Arizona, regular meetings seemed like the obvious solution to creating that person-to-person contact. The benefits are many, allowing us to:

Build An Automatic Focus Group

To be able to brainstorm ideas, discuss book proposals or help each other hone ideas into stories in person allows for more in-depth discussion and understanding. That’s more effective and more immediate than online dialogue.

Create Our Own Fan Club

Meeting in person allows you to get to know each other’s backstory. You get to know what someone is like to work with, and your world becomes more open to partnerships and collaborations. After all, we like to work with people we like. And instead of that email high-five, you can actually get the real thing.

Increase Our Expertise

From the varied experiences involved to the expanded educational backgrounds, information you didn’t have before is just a meeting away. Once you get to know someone, you know what they know that you don’t. You have access to that information for use now or later, as long as your network is willing to share.

Of course, you don’t have to start a chapter to create this kind of camaraderie. Meet up. Tweet up. Drink up. Whatever it takes, I think it’s wise to be in this profession together.

If you have tips on how to do this well, please post them here.

Jackie Dishner


A trained journalist, former construction magazine editor and author, Jackie Dishner has been writing professionally for more than 20 years. She is the author of Backroads & Byways of Arizona.

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  • Ann Videan

    Jackie, exactly why I started my ALWAYS writers tribe. We need each other!

  • Geri Koeppel

    I started group 5 years ago when I first went freelance, and a handful of us (most in the East Valley) met for a while, but people kept dropping out. Few people shared honestly with each other. I felt a lot of folks kept things close to the vest, afraid other writers would find out who they were working for and try to “steal” their editors or assignments.  I enjoy the ALWAYS meetings, but it seems I’m always out of town on the date! I really appreciate the times we’ve met and all the advice and assistance you provide. Keep it up! You are a dynamo.

    • Jackie Dishner

       Geri, that’s so sweet. Thank you. I think it helps to model the behavior you want to receive in return. And Ann above, who started the ALWAYS group in Phoenix, is someone who I believe thinks the same. Maybe you can consider joining ASJA. I’ve started an Arizona chapter, as I’ve mentioned. Let me know by email, and I’ll send you the brochure. Eventually, I’d like to have occasional meetings that are open to non-members, as we’d love to attract and grow our Arizona membership. But while you’re here, check out our site. You’ll see we are all dynamos here!

  • Minda Zetlin

    Years ago, I used to be part of a group informally called “Wine and Whine” of freelancers who would meet for dinner once a month in New York City. In fact, that’s how I got to know several ASJA members before I joined ASJA.