The Oxford branch of the Society of Young Publishers recently held an informative and interactive workshop on networking in the publishing world.
They invited Emma Williams from Elsevier, Suzanne Collier from bookcareers.com, and Claire Louis Kemp from AtwoodTate. I’ll admit that my previous impressions of AtwoodTate had been of an anonymous, faceless machine. Claire completely changed that. She was warm, wise and full of useful information—as were her colleagues for the evening: Suzanne and Emma.
The event took place at the Handle Bar Cafe and Kitchen, which is the recently refurbished and renamed Zappi’s, above Bike Zone on St Michael’s Street. Their coffee competes with the likes of Missing Bean, the newer Society Cafe on the same street, Quarter Horse in Cowley, and Brew (my personal favourite, on North Parade). It also features an impressive menu of healthy, fresh and heartwarming food, including a vegetarian version of a full English which is deliciously satisfying. This evening it was cleared and booked for the SYP event, serving red and white wine to attendees.
Most of the advice was straight-forward, common sense, and useful for everyone to be reminded of. Be prepared for an event, do your homework, ask open questions and remember the ‘Elevator Pitch’ scenario—how do you successfully present yourself in 15 seconds without starting a dreary monologue. During the event, don’t stick with your friend (if you came with one), and have an aim of a certain number of people to talk to (more lasting impressions on three people, or as many as six new contacts). If in doubt, find someone else on their own and remember that most people hate networking and are also feeling slightly awkward on the inside.
One of the key takeaways for me was on the importance of business cards. It might seem obvious to those already established within publishing, but for me, coming from a background in academia, business cards are very unusual and often even frowned up. In publishing, however, business cards are the way forward. Use them, collect them, make new contacts and remember who they are. Publishing is about connections. It’s a close-knit community, and going to events and making your face and name known is as important as that perfectly-crafted CV. Make those connections and then be sure to follow up afterwards, promptly.
After the event, I had a look at Moo cards (recommended by Suzanne and Claire) and ordered a few as a sample. In an industry that works with the printed word, the quality of the paper is important. I opted for the Luxe version, and I’m eagerly awaiting them. I also booked my ticket for the next SYP conference in London in November, which I’m sure will be equally motivating and inspiring. I hope to meet some new people and perhaps see some now familiar faces!
That evening I also picked up my latest copy of the Paris Review and London Review of Books. It’s an ever increasing pile of literary subscriptions—thankfully for my bank account I only committed to a few months of both—but they’re a joy to read, flick through, admire.
I re-read ‘The Tenant’ by Victor Lodato in Granta Magazine’s latest edition, Legacies of Love, and it made me want to read large-print, enormously thick volumes of Tolstoy in a rural countryside. I’m not sure that was the takeaway emotion I was supposed to be left with, but I enjoyed it—as I did the rest of this issue, some of which I helped put together as an Editorial Intern!
Thanks to the #SYPNetworking event for the inspiration behind this post—I’m excited to attend several more over the next year.