Networking in Publishing without Business Cards – A Student’s Guide

To kick off #CCCF16 we have a special post from Charlotte Brady a Philosophy finalist who shares her experience of  networking in the publishing industry, a great prompt before the  “World of Books & Publishing” session on Thursday 3rd March, part of CCCF16

Some of the most established professionals still find networking a daunting task. It can be even scarier as a student, when you might feel like you haven’t got much to offer yet.

Contacts are really important in publishing. This is because a big part of securing a job is being able to demonstrate your commitment to a career in books. A lot of what employers are looking for at the moment is experience and skills, not necessarily your degree award (although don’t fear, this is still important). If someone interviewing you recognises you from industry events, they’ll know you’re informed and that you’re genuinely passionate about publishing.

So here’s some tips to ease your mind and feel a bit more confident about meeting new people.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere 

Everyone you meet with a job in publishing was exactly where you are and they remember what it’s like to be at the beginning of your career. My experience is that people in publishing have a lot of time for new talent and are keen to help make your break into the industry a bit easier than theirs was.

Don’t underestimate the value of just showing up

Just going along to an event and showing face is an important form of networking. You might not be ready to approach anyone yet, but people will start to recognise your face and that goes a long way.

More confident online? Great!

There are a lot of important conversations about publishing happening online, especially on Twitter. It’s so easy to get involved and people will start to recognise your handle if you’re active. Following the right people on Twitter is also a great way to keep up to date with the industry and you will start to recognise people from your feed at events.

Try and establish your interests

A great way to break the ice is to talk about your areas of interest in publishing. Do you want to publish YA? Why? What YA book do you most wish you had written? What do you think of the New Adult genre? These are all much more interesting questions to ask you than ‘what are you studying?’

Go easy on yourself

Making one really meaningful connection with someone in publishing could be all it takes to move your career forward, so don’t worry about collecting business cards. Just showing up to events really is a big step in the right direction, so set yourself little goals for each event.

When you first start attending events, it can feel like everyone in the publishing world is in a big club you haven’t quite been invited to yet. But everyone in publishing is there because they love books and they love what they do and they’re more than happy to share their wisdom and help foster new talent in the industry. You might not be the publicist of a best selling author yet, but you could be one day.

Thanks to Charlotte for these very helpful tips. For lists of potential employers to network with see a previous post on the Publishing industry from our Careers Consultant Janet Forsyth and a post on top tips for getting into the industry from Craig Phillips

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