Tag: networking

How to network when you’re naturally shy

Networking is crucial in business. But what happens when you’re shy or feel overwhelmed at big events with new people? Stephanie Cox shares some valuable advice for networking when you’re naturally more introverted.

I understand completely if you feel anxious about networking events. Rest assured: everyone feels that way sometimes. The below are a few tips from my own personal tool belt (I’m sure others will have different ideas!) and they’ve helped me throughout my career – from an anxiety-ridden graduate with zero experience and an inferiority complex, to a Society of Young Publishers committee Chair who edits books for a living (and still has an inferiority complex)!

1) Be nosy online and find out who’s going to be at the event

There isn’t a publishing event worth its salt that is not advertised, announced, discussed, and enthused about online before it happens. Welcome to the digital age, my introverted friend! Where the super-confident and very shy alike can come together to discuss the hot topics in the industry, or the latest book causing quite a stir. So, if you find a guest list, great. Print it out, and research the attendees. That will make you feel more prepared. If there isn’t one, you can bet there’s probably a hashtag or Twitter conversation going on somewhere where attendees will be gushing about the event or meet-up. It always put me at ease to know who to expect at a networking event.

2) Start chatting to people online first

Once you’ve seen who’s attending, why not strike up a conversation with some of them online first?

The publishing world is a huuuuge fan of social media, especially Twitter. And we’re all great friends on there. Really. I have met and chatted with some of the biggest names in the business (including Laura Summers, the founder of Bookmachine; the amazing Samantha Missingham, the fabulous Suzanne Collier, and publishing legends Zara Markland, Seonaid McLeod and Karen Sullivan) before eventually getting to meet them in real life at networking events.

Twitter, Facebook and Bookmachine are all tools that you really should be using – not only so that you can recognise names and faces, but so you can start chatting to them online before an event and break the ice. Let them know that you’ll be at the same event, and that you’ll pop over to say hi. That way, you’ll feel a million times more comfortable when you go to introduce yourself, and you will have an existing conversation that you can elaborate on if your mind goes blank.

3) Remember that you’re not the only one who feels nervous or shy

If the person you want to network with seems confident (everyone gets nervous, remember) or clearly networks with a lot of people, then don’t worry. They will do this a lot, and so will be used to having nervous people approaching them to chat. They’ll know what to do; they’re not going to just stand there while there’s an awkward silence. No one bites. Publishing is an incredibly friendly and supportive industry. Everyone was once where you are: nervous at gatherings. Hell, a lot of them probably still are. They want you to feel at ease, so that they can feel at ease too.

A good conversation starter, if the networking event involves a Q&A or a presentation, is to ask them their opinion on what has been said, or if they know the speaker. That should get the ball rolling if you freeze or panic and can’t think of anything to say.

4) A fool-proof tactic (almost like with dating – not that I’m an expert!): ask the other person about themselves and their work

And be genuinely interested. Fake flattery is easy to notice; genuine interest drives enthusiastic conversation.

In a situation where you’re meeting someone for the first time, it feels good to talk about something you know. So the person you’re talking to will be happy to chat about themselves for a couple of minutes. It’s familiar, comfortable territory and it helps you get to know each other. They, in turn, will ask you about yourself and your job, or your aspirations. The conversation will go from there.

5) Seek out the other person in the room who looks as shy and nervous as you do

Perhaps they’re standing in the middle of the room, alone. Perhaps they’re clearly just fiddling on their phone to look busy and less awkward. Perhaps they’re looking around the room, and seem a bit daunted. Approach them! They will be very relieved! Admit that you’re a bit nervous too. There’s nothing more anxiety-relieving than knowing someone else understands how you feel. It can even be a good ice breaker!

6) Have a business/contact card at the ready

Don’t feel all that confident? Get flustered easily? Will you get sweaty or go red in the face if you try, with all the grace of a newborn giraffe, to juggle your bag, your coat, your glass of wine and your phone in order to grab a pen and piece of paper? Yep, you’re exactly like me then.

Not a problem. Get some business/contact cards at the ready and whip one out when the conversation naturally calls for it. (Don’t shove it in people’s faces unannounced.) If you’re not weighed down with bags and you get the chance, write a little note on it about what you were discussing with the other person, so that it jogs their memory later on (though this is not essential). Voila! You immediately look more professional and have a little bit more style than you normally would.

Stephanie Cox is Assistant Copy Editor at the mental health book publisher Trigger Press. Originally from Hull and now working in Newark, she is also the committee Chair for the Society of Young Publishers North branch.

The importance of networking for freelance editors

… or any freelancers really. Those of us who work from home and don’t get out much. You know who you are.

At this time of year when it’s cold and wet here in the UK, it’s tempting to bundle ourselves up in blankets, scarves and fingerless mitts, and get down to work without giving the outside world a thought until it’s time to do the school run / buy more coffee / go to bed. And that’s fine a lot of the time. But if you do that for weeks at a time, and possibly longer, things might start to pass you by and you can start to miss out on events, industry developments, and opportunities to take part in a bit of CPD.

Which is why, as a work-from-home, self-employed freelance editor and project manager, I’m a huge advocate of a bit of networking every now and then. This will give you the opportunity to get dressed in clothes other than your comfy trousers and meet others with the aim of developing contacts, both professional and social, promoting yourself and possibly your business, and exchanging information.

Don’t stop reading! I’m not just talking about the type of networking meeting where you go and collect a pile of business cards from people trying to flog you services you’ll never need. I know that because I’ve been to a few of those meetings and never need to go to another one. There are other ways to do it, so read on.

1) Start small

Contact another freelancer in your local area and invite them round to your place for coffee, or meet in a café. A good opportunity for a social chat as well as finding out what each other is working on, and a chance to ask for tips or help.

2) Make it slightly bigger, but keep it informal

Invite a couple of freelance contacts for lunch, and suggest that they each bring along another freelancer. Expand your network, share knowledge, and maybe hear some industry gossip.

3) Join a networking group, but make sure it’s right for you

I live in a rural part of Wiltshire, but there are at several networking groups within easy reach. I’m a member of two of them, and one in particular really suits me. It’s held in a local café once a month, its members are mostly self-employed people who work from home, and although they all work in different fields, the group is friendly and welcoming, and a valuable source of contacts and information. There’s no cost for attending meetings other than what you eat and drink in the café, and I always go away with something to think about or follow up on. Can’t find a group you’re comfortable with? Set one up yourself. It could be the only way you get a work Christmas lunch this year!

4) Try netwalking

If the weather’s good, gather a few people together, plan a route (maybe with a café at the end), and prepare some business-related questions/points for discussion as you walk. A third of the way round the route, encourage people to walk with someone new and discuss another question, and then change again for the last part of the route. Over coffee at the end, share anything interesting you’ve learnt.

5) Join a publishing industry group and go to one of their meetings

This is where you’ll pick up more targeted tips and make new contacts for work opportunities. Essential. Try BookMachine, Byte The Book, your local SfEP group or the Society of Young Publishers.

6) Join a group related to the area you publish in

For me that’s ELT (English Language Teaching) and I’m a member of IATEFL and a couple of specialist groups within that. Going to their events, whether small and local, or on a larger scale like an annual conference, gives me a chance to find out about the latest methodologies and technical developments in the classroom, see what all the publishers are putting out, as well as meeting in-house contacts and reminding them that I’m here if they’re looking to resource new projects.

Once you’re there, follow Justine Solomon’s tips from the recent SYP conference.

Of course, there are time and cost implications for all of the above, but I think these should be seen as an investment. If you’re at an event and meet someone who is looking for a new editor or project manager, the cost of a few hours away from your desk and a train ticket will be repaid many times over. Likewise, if you’re looking for an accountant and you hear of a good one through your network, they might save you £££s in the long run. Or the new invoicing app you hear about over coffee that turns your monthly invoicing nightmare into a quick and easy hour. And think how good you’d feel if you managed to introduce a couple of your contacts to each other and they could form a new working relationship. Very satisfying.

If none of those ideas grab you, you can of course continue to network online via Facebook and LinkedIn, but I honestly think that getting out and having some face-to-face contact with others is important – as an excuse to change out of your comfy working trousers if nothing else.

Karen White is a freelance ELT project manager, editor, and trainer. Realising that networking opportunities for ELT freelancers were limited, she organised an Awayday in 2015 with another freelancer. The third ELT Freelancers’ Awayday will be held in January 2017 and will be a chance to network, discuss the issues of the day, and have a good lunch. Full details are here if you’re interested in taking part.

grow traffic

5 tips for growing traffic and engagement for your content

Getting a new blog or social media platform noticed can be difficult. It is important that you are effective and systematic when you engage with the publishing community. Follow this step by step guide to get you closer to your target audience and increase traffic to, and engagement with, your content.

1) Follow big influences

Image credit: @demelzagriff95

Big names in the publishing world won’t necessarily follow you back but repeated, and meaningful, engagement with their content will eventually get you noticed. You need to get your name and brand out there for people to come to you. Start with @samatlounge, @jobsinbooks @publicitybooks and @SamEades.

2) Network

Finding like-minded bloggers is half the battle, but next you need to engage with them to form relationships. The beauty of the internet is that you can meet new people without even needing to attend industry events. Make sure you follow, like and comment on content written by similar bloggers on your platform. Engagement is what you want, so you need to reach others first. Why not offer to host a guest post to advertise their blog? Many bloggers are happy to reciprocate.

3) Don’t hashtag randomly

Hashtags are one of the best way for similar people to find your account. Whether you’re using Twitter or Instagram, make sure you are taking notice of the official and trending hashtags that the majority of people are using. Don’t exclude yourself from the conversation by simply using the a less popular ones. Both Twitter and Instagram have useful features to highlight the most commonly used hashtags. Instagram can even tell you exactly how many posts have used a certain hashtag.

4) Think outside the box

There are thousands of sub genres of book that your blog or social media platform may cover. Once you’ve followed big names in publishing and started networking with similar bloggers, it’s time to get specific. If you aren’t writing about YA, there isn’t always a well-established community to join. It’s time think creatively. Are you writing about politics? Follow journalists or relevant magazines. Writing about lifestyle books? Follow beauty, health and cookery accounts. Search Facebook for relevant groups and events.

5) Create your own community

If you are still struggling to engage in your online community, there is a chance that there isn’t an established community already online. Why not start your own? Creating a Facebook group or blogging hours on Twitter are a great way to bring like-minded people together.


demelza griffithsDemelza Griffiths is an English Literature finalist and social media enthusiast who can’t wait to escape the ivory towers of university to seek a career in book publicity. Her blog, Books feat. Politics covers the latest and greatest in political non-fiction and literary fiction. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and WordPress.

Feature Image Credit: mkhmarketing, CC License


3 reasons why you should volunteer at literary festivals

I believe that my experience as a volunteer at various literary festivals over the last four years has greatly enhanced my publishing career and my writing skills. Volunteers have access to a lot of educational and enriching events, as well as a chance to network with publishing folks in a relaxed environment. It’s the best place to talk shop without any structural constraints and here are my top three reasons why you should volunteer at literature festivals.

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On 23rd February… BookMachine is back

It’s been said, that it’s the most fun you can have in publishing with your clothes on.*

It’s been said, that if you can talk books, digital publishing, politics, haircuts, music or… anything, then this is the place to be.**

You can sign up here:

BookMachine @ Porter’s Bar (The Green Man), 383 Euston Rd, London, NW1 3AU

23rd February 2012, 6.30pm

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Finding work in Publishing

At the last BookMachine event we were pleased to meet Sam Coleman from Atwood Tate. He’s certainly a man in the know if you’re looking for a job, as he speaks to recruiters in the industry every day. Here he shares some tips for finding work.

Times have certainly changed since I started work as a Production Assistant for a distinguished publishing house only a decade ago. Now, rather than massaging strained biceps from carrying piles of carefully packaged proofs from desk to desk, we harp on about carpel tunnel syndrome and ponder deep thoughts about metadata. The era of Digital publishing is upon us and, like a towering Galactus it’s going nowhere.

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Nattering NOT networking

Nick Coveney, Marketing maestro for the SYP, found himself at the BookMachine party last week, and has some mighty fine things to say about us. Aw shucks.

Last Thursday – whilst the media was busy prophesying doom and gloom (pretty accurately actually) in light of Britain’s perennial “surprise” freeze, a group of intrepid individuals decided to defying the elements by attending BookMachine.

But what is BookMachine? Well it’s quite possibly the best thing to happen to networking events in a very long time. 

The mix of people was hugely diverse despite the terrible weather many brave souls had crossed several counties to attend this fun and funky event. Admittedly, I wasn’t among them as I only had a five-minute stroll down the fabled Euston Road wind tunnel to contend with.

The drinks and the conversation were free flowing but the best thing about the @Book_Machine was the brilliant atmosphere. It was relaxed, friendly and completely open and whilst there were people from all aspects of the publishing industry we spent most of our time nattering rather than necessarily “networking” in the conventional sense.

It was a great night to meet and chat with like-minded folk (it transpired that we were all into Books shockingly). I’d happily recommend the BookMachine to anyone looking for a fun evening and I am looking forward to attending their next event.

Funky badge and a glass of sparkly wine

Elizabeth Warren, Subject Editor at Hodder Education came to her first BookMachine party and wrote a great review (*blush*), so thought we’d share!

If you’re looking for a friendly and interesting bunch of people who work in publishing, like you, then you needn’t look any further than BookMachine. I went along to their drinks event on 2nd December at The Albany on Great Portland Street and was struck both by the very welcoming atmosphere and by the sheer number of people who had trekked out on a snow day!

BookMachine is a fantastic way of meeting like-minded people, but without the feeling that you have to network. There’s no cliques, no pressure, and you just end up talking to interesting people purely by chance. There’s obviously a bit of talking shop, but mostly the conversations I had revolved around the snow and the Wikileaks story (discovering that nobody really seemed to understand it…!) There is a huge variety of people – editorial, PR, even those running their own internet start-up – and Laura and Gavin have done a wonderful job in creating such a lovely social environment for a fairly diverse bunch of people.  Plus, you get a funky badge and a glass of sparkly wine, so really, what more could you ask for?

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