Posted on September 21, 2012 by Dan Blank
This week I am attending the Advanced Publishing Institute at NYU, featuring workshops for those working in publishing on how to better manage the many transitions we are going through.
Whenever I go to an event like this, I reflect on the value of taking time away from regular tasks to break routine, learn from peers, and meet passionate folks in publishing. Two days is a lot of time to give up, and often, the benefits you receive are not realized right away.
The information you hear is always overwhelming because it comes as a fire hose, speaker after speaker, hour after hour. But weeks, months, and years later, you find yourself pulling nuggets out that provide context and insight.
People often say these events are all about the “networking,” a word that sounds somewhat mercenary. I do find that inevitably, I meet folks at an event like this that signifies alignment – we are passionate about the same things – and the in-person nature of our chats builds trust immediately. I walk away with the feeling of: “We are in this together. We are dedicated to the same goals.”
Too often, I see conferences and events promoted based on star power. Some uber famous person was hired to give a speech. I don’t really get that. Sure, it is nice to see these folks in person, but I find that the thing I value most is meeting and learning from the “doers.” Those folks who are in the trenches, often at mid-levels in an organization, and figuring this stuff out day to day.
Do you remember Fraggle Rock? My favorite characters were the Doozers, funny little creatures that were always building. “Doozers Do” was the motto from them that I remember.
I like meeting up with the doers. Those within companies who don’t always get the glory, but are actively sludging through to figure out the future of publishing. The authors who work tirelessly to not just create great books, but build meaningful connections with their audiences.
They started the day at NYU by saying: “This is a course, not a conference.” There was more focus on hands-on work than just listening to lectures. I even had the privilege of teaching a session on web analytics for editors & marketers. Here are the Doozers I met this week:
Showing up differentiates you in your career. Too many professionals spend all day, everyday, working with the same 5 people. When they eventually want to move jobs or get laid off – they have no network. No one outside of their tiny group TRULY appreciates their skillset and value. Suddenly, they are a commodity on the market, another resume in the inbox of an HR rep. It costs time and money to get out and show up, but I feel that the value greatly outweighs the cost.
What I still think is needed more at all events and conferences is more reasons to work in small groups. To get to know names, to make connections. To put your brain to work solving problems, not just acting like a sponge listening to speakers.
A special thanks to the entire team at NYU Center for Publishing, especially Andrea Chambers and Jennifer Goodwin. And of course: thanks to the many speakers and attendees who made this event so worthwhile!