- Try not to take heavy luggage with you. Cloak rooms are few and far between, often with long queues and small fees for the service. If you are able to, leave all of your luggage at your accommodation.
- Wear sensible shoes. This may seem like an insignificant piece of very cliché advice, but it makes a huge difference. After three days of wearing ankle boots which I thought were professional looking, my feet were so sore that I was walking extremely slowly, a difficult predicament to be in when seminars are tightly scheduled yet often extremely far away from each other.
- Take lunch with you. The queues are tragically long and the prices are extortionate. It will save you time and the pain of handing over most of your cash.
- Use the maps provided. Really. As a very proud and stubborn individual, I assumed that I would pretty much figure out the layout on my own. I was wrong. Save yourself a lot of time and grab one of the fold out maps.
- ATTEND SEMINARS. It is extremely surprising how few people actually attend the seminars which are on offer at the event. From engaging YA readers to the impact of the Ebook, the seminars are hugely beneficial and have a large range of content. Among the most popular talks were “How To Get Into Publishing”, “Creativity, The Internet, and Politics” and “Journalism and It’s Dangers”. I attended both “How To Get Into Publishing” and “Successful Social Media Strategies”, and I am so glad that I did. Not only were the talks concise and eye-opening, but the speakers were bluntly honest and willing to answer as many weird and wonderful questions that time allowed. Furthermore, the speakers for both provided clear advice along with the emails of professionals to send any enquiries to, useful websites and beneficial groups to join.
- Make the most of their slightly stranger events. For example, my colleague and I managed to grab a spare spot in “Publicist Speed-Dating“, where we had ten minute meetings with different publicists, where we could pitch event ideas and get advice on how to improve our relationship with these individual publishers.
- Ask for proofs. Obviously, do not be too pushy, as this could give you or your company a bad reputation. However, if the reps at the stall seem friendly enough, the worst they can do is say no. If they do reject the idea, bow out gracefully and thank them for their time.
- Do NOT lie, exaggerate or keep quiet about your position in your company or who you work for, and try to always explain your position when you first introduce yourself. My colleague and I were the subjects of poor miscommunication, with many people that got in touch with us after the event thinking that we were much more influential than we actually are (FYI, not at all). How this occurred, we are still unsure. We had badges which shouted our positions and where we were based, but it seems as if many people simply notice which company you work for, not what you do for them. Perhaps this is because those that run the stalls simply aren’t used to dealing with anyone so low down in a company, and therefore assume a certain status upon anybody there, but we mere booksellers were mistaken time and time again for regional buyers. The resulting emails are, at best, extremely awkward. Introduce yourself with a good handshake, your name, your company and your position within that company. Explain what you are doing at the LBF to begin with, and hopefully no misunderstandings can arise.
- Introduce yourself to other attendees. By approaching others who are also interested in the same seminars, you could well be making very useful contacts for the future. Swap emails or even phone numbers with anyone who seems friendly and wiling to help, you never know when they may come in handy.
- The main thing that I took away from the 2015 LBF was this: MAKE BUSINESS CARDS. – No matter how unimportant you think you may seem compared to everybody else attending the fair, not having a business card to leave with those you speak to will immediately put them off. It makes you seem unprofessional and gives the impression that you are not fully dedicated to the networking you are doing. Give business cards to as many people as possible and vice versa, you never know when they may get in touch or when you may need to email them for advice.
The most important point of all is: GO.
If you have the slightest interest in the publishing industry and you are able to attend, do it. Even if you do not manage to get a space at one of the strange networking events, or if you miss that particular seminar you so wanted to hear, it will still be beneficial. On my first day I only made it to one seminar and I was too shy to approach many people, but at the end of that day I still realised how lucky I was to be there, because you learn a lot simply by walking around the event. You will see strangely formatted books in a number of different stalls, and realise that they may be the next big thing. You will hear what the publishers are focusing on, so that you are aware of the newest trends and focuses throughout the industry.
You will meet people from similar or shockingly different backgrounds, you will gain good connections even if you do not realise it at the time, but most of all, you will enjoy it. If you are passionate about the field, you will never forget it.