Justine Solomons is the founder of Byte the Book – the monthly networking event for both publishers and authors. While social media has made networking easier than ever before, there’s nothing like face-to-face communication to cement connections and meet the right people for you.
Justine founded Byte the Book two years ago and within a matter months the number of attendees at the meetups went from single to triple figures – all made possible through Justine’s truly admirable networking skills. As Publisher-in-Residence at Kingston University, Justine recently spoke to MA Publishing students about networking for publishers. Here are her top 10 tips:
1. Plan ahead
Keep a note of upcoming publishing and book related events, or use Byte the Book’s handy calendar. Focus on what you want to get from the events and decide which ones will be best for you.
2. Go prepared
Research the event, speakers and who’s going to be there. Identify the people that you want to talk to and prepare questions in advance. And don’t forget your business cards – or at the very least a pen and paper.
3. Stay sober
4. Work the room
Avoid spending more than five minutes talking to any one person; if you get on well, swap details or even arrange to meet for a coffee. If you’re worried about how to end the conversation “it was good meeting you” should do the trick, and you could always introduce the person you’re talking to someone else you may know with shared interests.
5. Practise your pitch
You don’t have long to connect with this potential future contact, so how you introduce/pitch yourself is key in showing what experience, interests and goals you have. This way, you’re on the same page and you’re both more likely to find the connections you need.
6. Accept that nerves are normal
Many people feel nervous or awkward talking to new people at networking events. Remember that’s what you’re there for, so find people on their own or add yourself to a group.
7. Ask questions when you’re lost for words
Most people like talking about themselves – so ask a few questions, and follow up on things they mention. They’ll feel engaged with you, and you’ll learn lots of interesting things.
8. Consider how you can help
Think of ways you may be able to help people: connections, known vacancies or even an interesting blog/website you could recommend. You don’t have to think of something on the spot – just forward it on in an email/tweet.
9. Follow up promptly
If someone gave you their contact details then follow up with an email the next day – you can save time by having a standard template that you can tweak for each new contact. And if you have a blog, subscribe them (no this is not illegal, as long as you tell them you are doing it and they have given you their contact details) – they can always unsubscribe!
10. Keep a contacts database
As your contact list grows, it’s a good idea to keep a list of the contacts you’ve made. Create a database/spreadsheet for names, contact details and a reminder of where and when you met them – just in case! You can then sync it to your phone and have the info to hand.
Justine Solomons founded Byte the Book and is a freelance Business Development Consultant. To put your networking skills into practice, and to see Justine in action, come along to Byte the Book’s next event at The London Book Fair. To contact Justine, or for more information on Byte the Book, go to www.bytethebook.com.
Post written by Samantha Perkins, a part-time student on the MA Publishing at Kingston University.