The dreaded term that instils an immediate sense of unease… While chatting to like-minded people may seem like the easiest thing in the world, the actuality of approaching someone unknown and introducing yourself is nothing less than daunting. Is it the age-old fear of rejection? The inadequacy of being surrounded by successful people in the industry? Or perhaps just the general anxiety at the thought of making conversation with a stranger. My first encounter with networking was to be at Magfest 2018, the international magazine festival held in Edinburgh. As one of the first publishing events I had ever attended, I was filled with equal parts excitement at learning more about the magazine industry and apprehension at meeting new people and networking.

magfest panel
Magfest panel

Thankfully I wasn’t going it alone, many of my new publishing class would be at Magfest which served as a relief – we always had each other. While our aim was to branch out and make publishing contacts, it was also nice to get to know our cohort. Looking around my new classmates, I suddenly realised we were already making contacts. As the new age of emerging publishers, we were important assets to each other. We are (hopefully) going to be successful components of the publishing industry so the networks (and friendships) we make now are just as significant as those all-important industry contacts. I had started networking and I hadn’t even realised it.

Magfest proved to be a thoroughly thought-provoking and worthwhile day. The various panels and presentations allowed me to gain an insight into the publishing world and think about challenges to publishers that had never crossed my mind before. As well as the wealth of knowledge to be gained just by attending, I managed to make some of those all-important industry contacts. It wasn’t many, but it was definitely a start.

Magazines on display at Magfest

As it turns out networking isn’t that bad at all. As I return home and proudly tell my parents I’ve been ‘networking’ all day, it suddenly dawns on me that I’ve got a new excuse for going out for wine and chatting to other like-minded people, all under the pretence of making contacts. Networking can be intimidating but it definitely has its perks. There’s an abundance of interesting people out there and a lot of networking to be done.

Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for. – Christine Comaford-Lynch

As Christine Comaford-Lynch suggests, networking is a way to market yourself and show others who you are. In essence, its a chance to be yourself and talk with people about things you are interested in, whilst making important contacts along the way. As intimidating as it sounds, networking is just chatting to other people, you’re probably doing it already.