leadership

Writing and career advancement

I began writing when I was only 12 years old; just short stories and some really embarrassing poetry. The goal for writing at the time was to be published in the most important magazine of the 90’s. In the Middle East, for a third culture kid like myself, Young Times was the epitome of ‘cool’. Those of you who grew up in the region probably remember the multi-colored cover of the printed magazine that got delivered to your apartment every Tuesday. I think of the fight that would ensue, between my sister and I, on who would get to read it first, as one of my fondest memories from that time.

I stopped writing when I got to high school. Sure, I wrote little articles for the school paper and then even years later in my dental school’s annual magazine. That writing wasn’t as consistent as it is now. It never opened up new opportunities for me.

I got back to writing consistently just two years ago when I was going through my first, and hopefully only, serious season of burnout. I was in a job that I didn’t love, commuting 2 hours a day and growing increasingly tired and disillusioned with my professional life. One of the recommendations I got at the time was to begin journaling- as a means to spend time with myself, collecting my own thoughts.

It’s been about 2 years since I began writing again. I now write about personal and professional topics. No more short stories or poetry, although who knows, I might get back into that too someday. The following article is about how writing can open up opportunities in your career and become a way for you to build your personal brand.

Writing gets you noticed

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While many of my colleagues run very popular ‘blogs’ on Instagram, social media tends to be an outlet that may not get you the exposure that you think it will. Sure, it can lead to some amazing connections but it is not as wide spread in its appeal. Also, Instagram may not be around forever. What happens to your 10K+ followers, when IG, like all social media channels, dies or we outgrow it as a generation (ex: Facebook)?

Writing for a professional association’s newsletter is what will most likely get you noticed in your industry.

Consider reaching out to your local professional society asking if they are open to contributions from new writers. If they are a non-profit, like most other associations, they will be happy to honor your request. I began writing for the American Dental Association’s New Dentist Now blog at the beginning of 2020. It brought with it a lot of exposure to the non-profit I built with a friend, New Dentist Business Club. To date, it is one of the single largest referral sources for new members at our Club.  

Writing improves your recollection of past events

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There are events that happen in every individual’s life that are worth writing about, and worth learning from. When I first started writing, I had no intentions of ever publishing a book. However, I began writing about coming to the US as an immigrant and persevering to get into a dental school. Life after dental school only got tougher, as I struggled to find a job, gain a work visa and budget for my expenses. When I started writing about the intersection of these specific experiences, I built content, over time, for a book. My upcoming book, Persevering, will be out next month.

Did I think I would have a book out by the time I was 30? No. Writing made that opportunity possible.

People want to get to know you

Writing about your experiences will have no meaning if there is no lesson to learn for the reader. If you provide resources for further education or share mistakes from your past and things others can avoid, people will want to read more of your work. And, then they would want to get to know you.

It is through my writing, that I received invitations to join a mastermind, found new mentors and coaches to work with and got nominated for two very important awards.

Writing can open many doors

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Writing for me has been like CPR. It revived my love for my profession and helped me find my niche. If it wasn’t for writing, dentistry would have become very dull and I may have still been in that miserable job!

Writing made me realize, I wanted to engage in mentorship and camaraderie, hence inspiring me to take up a part time position at the local dental school, University of the Pacific, teaching dental students. I also started to get requests to speak at conferences, dental society meetings, and dental schools. Speaking opportunities have helped me connect with leaders in the dental industry, many of whom later became my mentors. Further, writing inspired me to read more, connect with other writers, take lessons in writing craft and led me to my new coach, Paulette Perhach.

All of these opportunities have one single advantage: they have helped me see the world with a different perspective. I now no longer think ‘there isn’t enough for me’, that I need to compete with others in order to get what I want. My thinking has evolved into an abundance mindset. That is probably the most fundamental advantage that came out of writing.

Writing also got me my current job!

Instead of applying on Indeed like 90% of traditional applicants, I wrote letters to prospective employers introducing myself and what I can bring to their practice in terms of skill set and experience. I also built a short informative website listing my skills, continuing education and fellowships. I received tons of feedback from employers and in a challenging labor market at the height of the pandemic, actually had the privilege of choosing and negotiating between 3 offers.

Writing helps you reconnect with what’s important

Writing is an important part of gratitude. If you are a beginner in writing, consider writing for just 15 minutes a day about 3 things you are grateful for. This helps you start off your morning on a positive note. Writing also helps problem-solve and work out pent up stress or anxiety.

As a dentist, I am sometimes plagued with a hundred little worries in my mind. My mind springs up thoughts like ‘is that patient doing okay with the antibiotic? I hope she is not in pain. What could have gone differently this morning, how is my staff member’s health?’ etc. Sometimes, I’ll go to sleep and the first thing that pops in my head the next morning is a worry I had the evening prior. Writing about all of it, helps me sort through some of those issues.

If you haven’t started writing. I hope this post inspires you to write. Everyone can write and you can always learn to write well. For tips on starting, visit Paulette’s blog. Her book, Welcome to the Writer’s Life was what led me down this path.

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