Networking Opportunities at New Voices New Rooms

Can you really meet people at an online conference?

In the early days of planning New Voices New Rooms, organizers talked to booksellers and publishers about what they considered most important and valuable in a trade show. The answer was almost unanimous: The chance to talk to people you never see otherwise.

“That ability to run into people, over and over” said one bookseller, “sometimes, you’ll meet the same people by accident two or three times at different events. By the end of the show, you are friends.”

The New Voices New Rooms schedule was built to provide as many of those opportunities as possible. Here is a rundown of the “Networking” focused events in the program. Note that you can sign up for any of these events, but if you haven’t already registered for the show, you won’t be admitted until you do.

Office Hours

Every day from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. (schedule)

This is a space to meet one-on-one with exhibitors. Every exhibitor receives 1 hour and 45 minutes each day in their own breakout room. To meet up with someone, just attend the event and tell the host which publisher you want to visit.

The list of publishers available during that day will be added to the event description as they are confirmed. Be sure to also visit the virtual exhibit hall: many exhibitors have a place for you to make an appointment with them.

Roundtables

Tue Sep 22nd 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (link)
Wed Sep 23nd 10:00 am to 10:50 am (link)

Sometimes, the best ideas you get from a trade show don’t come from the presenters, they come from the people you’re sitting next to. Roundtables are a place to virtually “sit down” next to your colleagues and hear what they have to say. They are designed to dive into a topic quickly and get answers. Scheduled for 20-minute rounds, topics will include things like used books, newsletters, returns, consignments, subscriptions. As topics are confirmed they will be added to the description for that day.

Retreats

Every day from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

There are five “retreats” in the program designed for those of you who fill specific roles in your store. 2020 has presented dramatic and unprecedented challenges for bookstores, and altered how we do our jobs. Retreats are a place to have a deep discussion about the issues facing you, and to share your experiences about what is and isn’t working:

Monday: Owner’s Retreat
Tuesday: Event Manager’s Retreat
Wednesday: Book Buyers Retreat
Thursday: Children’s Booksellers Retreat
Friday: Store Managers Retreat

SIBA & NAIBA Annual Meetings

Thursday, Sep 24 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm: SIBA / NAIBA

The least “exciting” event in the schedule just may be the most important, especially in 2020. This is where you can talk to your Board and make your concerns and priorities known. Don’t pass up on the opportunity to hear the direction your bookselling organization is going, and to let your Board know what you think about it.

Cocktail Parties!

Monday-Thursday, from 5:30 pm to 6:00 pm

It’s been a long day of intense meetings, so take time to unwind with your book-industry friends. Some of the cocktail parties are being hosted by publishers and will have authors in attendance, others will be a chance to just get together with the people you’ve been virtually bumping into all day. Purposely low-key and relaxed, this is the place to trade all those jokes you’ve been sitting on and talk to your colleagues about your favorite moments in the program.

Monday: Cocktail with Your Pals
an NVNR get together to trade stories about the first day of the show

Tuesday: Sláinte!: Cocktails with Tin House
with Tin House authors Ruth Gilligan and Paraic O’Donnell, and everyone’s favorite impromptu “bartender,” Craig Popelars

Wednesday: Cocktails with HarperCollins
come say hello to one of NVNR’s major sponsors and meet three star Harper authors.

Thursday: Cocktails & Crime
Join true and fictional crime authors for a drink and some storytelling of the suspenseful kind!

Tips for making the most of a virtual conference

Five days of online events, an average of 10-15 events each day…there are going to be times when New Voices New Rooms will feel less like a gathering and more like a marathon. Here are some tips for making the most out of a virtual event for yourself and your bookstore without exhausting yourself in the process.

Before the event:

  1. Treat the event like you would any real world event: put it in your calendar, block out the time so you can really be present, focused, and able to get the most out of the experience.
  2. Check your computer/phone/tablet set up. Make sure your internet connection is good and your devices are fully charged. Check your earphones and microphone and your computer’s sound settings. Nothing is more distracting than being unable to hear or be heard.
  3. Be comfortable with the platform. NVNR events take place on Zoom. If you haven’t used Zoom, ask your Regional Association for help or watch one of Zoom’s handy videos for a quick tour of what to expect.
  4. Consider going with a group of friends. Even if you aren’t all in the same building (or state) you can agree to “meet” at an event and connect via a twitter stream or slack channel to chat with each other. Sharing your experience will make it more fun and memorable.
  5. Like a real-world conference come prepared. Have some concrete goals and pursue them: sign one new product line? Introduce yourself to that sales rep you’ve wanted to meet? Connect with an author who might come to the store.  Be sure to have digital copies of your store’s press kit ready to send to new suppliers.

At the meeting:

  1. Wear pants. No, really. Yes, if you are logging in from home, you can attend NVNR in your pajamas. But chances are, you’ll be running into other colleagues online, along with your account reps, media people, and authors you want to come to your store.  Dress for the occasion. Also, find yourself a comfortable place to sit with your computer for the event. You wear comfortable shoes to an in person conference when you know you will be on your feet for a long time. Give the same consideration to your back and your backside!
  2. Make sure when you log on to an event that your handle shows your name and your bookstore, at a minimum. Include a profile picture if you have the option. Your avatar is the first thing your fellow conference goers will see about you, and it is what they will see the most often. Don’t leave them thinking your name is “Mom’s iPad.” Make sure that your camera is pointing where you want it to be, and keep yourself muted unless you are speaking.
  3. Minimize distractions. Turn off all those automatic notifications your computer keeps sending you. Ask your family to stay out of the room while you are in your meeting. Avoid the temptation to multitask or try to work while you are attending. You won’t be as engaged, and you will miss opportunities to make connections with other attendees.
  4. Take advantage of every networking opportunity you can: live chats, post-event hang outs, break-out-room meetings. Don’t participate passively, reach out. If someone makes a comment you like, respond. You are creating connections that will evolve into real-world relationships.
  5. Have fun! New Voices New Rooms is a virtual event because right now we can’t meet in person. It’s not the same, but it is a whole new kind of experience that we hope will be rewarding. Give yourself the time and the patience to explore. Don’t fret the occasional slow connection or occasional mic issues that are bound to happen at some point over the week’s events. Enjoy the people you meet and the presenters you would never meet if you were in a hotel conference room.

After the meeting:

  1. Make a point of watching some of the events you missed. In fact, schedule the time to do so in your calendar. Everything is recorded so unlike a real world event you can be in two places at once.
  2. Check the Edelweiss listings for books that you are especially excited about, and adjust your orders and purchasing plans accordingly.
  3. Share your experiences with your fellow booksellers, even if they didn’t attend. Do a post-event briefing with staff to discuss implementing what you’ve learned as soon as possible, while the ideas are still fresh in your mind.
  4. Share info about your favorite authors and speakers on your social media. Authors and publishers will thank you for the early buzz. Use the #NVNR hashtag
  5. Follow up on some of the people you “met” at the show. Follow their social media accounts and drop them a quick post so they can easily follow you back. Nurture those budding relationships.

NVNR Orientation Sessions Now Available

We had a great crowd for both our bookseller and exhibitor orientation sessions on Thursday. Over 60 booksellers and 80 exhibitors were logged on to get a tour of New Voices New Rooms. For anyone who was unable to attend their session, both orientations are available now to watch on Youtube.

The Booksellers Orientation:

The Exhibitors Orientation:

NVNR Orientation Sessions: August 27

At this point we are all pretty used to virtual events, but a virtual show is a whole other animal! NVNR staff will be available on August 27 for two orientation sessions – one for booksellers, and one for exhibitors & sponsors:

Booksellers: Learn how to navigate the program schedule, make appointments with exhibitors, download events to your calendar, and which events have special or limited registration.

REGISTER for Booksellers Orientation
8/27 at 1:00 PM EST

Exhibitors: Learn how to submit materials for your exhibit page, maximize your page potential, schedule online “office hours” to meet with booksellers, and add “in booth” events and signings to the program.

REGISTER for Exhibitors Orientation
8/27 at 3:00 PM EST

The NVNR Staff will be available at both events to give a quick tour of New Voices New Rooms, explain the different components of the show, and answer any questions you have.

Let us show you around…

Welcome to New Voices New Rooms: a virtual bookselling show produced by SIBA and NAIBA. This guide will give you a tour of the show and its different elements. The SIBA/NAIBA team has worked hard to create a rewarding and useful experience for its attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors, and we hope you will come away with many new resources and skills to help your business and new products succeed.

The Program

The NVNR program uses Zoom to host and broadcast all of its events. You can find individual events posted on the schedule. In September registration links will be added to all the event listings. Because we know you will be dropping in on NVNR during your own regular work day, each event can be added to your own calendar, and shared with colleagues.

The schedule is easily searchable if you are looking for a specific author or book, or you can click on any of the tags (“#authorevents, #networking, #education, etc) to see the events related to those categories.

The Exhibits

The NVNR Exhibit Hall is less a “hall” and more of a gateway to awesomeness. The exhibitors you find there are the reason New Voices New Rooms exists — they believe strongly that independent bookstores are vital to the success of their books. They have invested in the show to get their books in front of booksellers and foster relationships with independent bookstores.

Return the favor by taking a stroll through their listings. Every “booth” is as unique as the exhibitor who created it. You can find featured titles, links to Edelweiss collections, information about show specials, and places to request review copies. Leave your virtual business card to be entered in a raffle for prizes.

Even more importantly, exhibitors have their own dedicated time in the schedule during “Publisher Office Hours” where they can schedule meetings or have “booth signings” with authors available to meet booksellers. Publisher Office Hours are held every day between 9:00 am and 12:30 pm. The times when exhibitors will be available will appear in the schedule and on their exhibit page as they are confirmed.

The Booksellers

One of the great benefits of a show is connecting with your fellow booksellers. It is often the things you learn from your colleagues chatting over dinner or in between sessions that turn out to be the most useful for your business. At NVNR, those potential connections are doubled — not only will you meet up (virtually) with old bookseller friends from your bookseller organization, you will also meet booksellers from the sister organization to the north or south. What can a New York bookseller learn from a Florida store? What can a bookseller in Alabama learn from a shop in Pennsylvania?

The Attendee Directory will give you an idea of who you can meet at the show. There are over 900 bookstores in SIBA and NAIBA’s combined territory, so the opportunity to meet someone new is almost unavoidable!

And note, especially, the events in the schedule tagged “Networking” — those are designed for booksellers to interact with each other.

Registration

Everyone who wants to attend any NVNR event must register for the show first. Think of registration as the equivalent of having a show badge. If you don’t register, you won’t be allowed into Zoom events, and you won’t receive important updates.

When you register be sure to fill out the form as completely as possible. Include your job title: the schedule has time booked for buyers to get together with other buyers, owners with owners, event coordinators with other event coordinators, etc. NVNR needs to know your role at your bookstore to assign you to the correct networking events.

Also let us know if you want to be included on the Attendee Directory. This is not mandatory, but publishers like to see who they will be meeting. The attendee directory does not include emails or phone numbers, but it will let publishers and other bookstores know who they might run into.

New Voices New Rooms is a five-day show packed with author events, round table discussions, editor and rep picks, and seminars and workshops. No one can attend every event, so get your whole staff involved to make the most of the show. This is a great opportunity for your front-line booksellers.

The Directors’ Dialogue

On the art of creating a virtual booksellers trade show

2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. But if there is a silver lining to be found it is perhaps that so many bookstores have risen to that challenge, finding new and creative ways to stay in business and serve their communities.

Organizations like SIBA and NAIBA have also had to become creative and innovative in order to serve their member bookstores. Creativity and innovation are the driving forces behind New Voices New Rooms: the joint SIBA/NAIBA virtual show.

Eileen Dengler, the Executive Director of NAIBA, and Linda-Marie Barrett, the Executive Director of SIBA, joined forces to harness the resources of both their organizations to produce a virtual event that would go above and beyond in meeting the needs of their member stores. They recently sat down together (on video, of course, from their own respective offices) to talk about New Voices New Rooms, its challenges and some of the hopes they have for the event.

Dengler/Barrett
(l) Eileen Dengler, NAIBA Executive Director, (r) Linda-Marie Barrett, SIBA Executive Director

What are your roles at New Voices New Rooms?

Eileen: Linda-Marie and I are working (virtually) shoulder-to-shoulder to create the programming, fill the exhibit hall, and dream up fun events for all who wish to be part of this great bookselling community.

Linda-Marie: We want to create programming that’s compelling and meaningful for everyone involved: booksellers, authors, publishers, and vendors. We intend to curate each event carefully to make some virtual magic. Just you wait and see 🙂

What are some of your goals for this event?

Eileen: I want this virtual event to reach the booksellers and publishers who felt an in-person meeting was either hard to attend because of time or money constraints, or who didn’t know about this community of booksellers and publishers. A community that champions and cheers each other, and lends a helping hand and sage advice so everyone succeeds.

Linda-Marie: To that end, we are crafting events that offer booksellers things they expect and need from a tradeshow and things they might not have thought of or expect from a virtual show: A fun and productive experience that inspires. Insider info about books and gifts that they can use to handsell with great success. Education they can take action on immediately. Connections with publishers and vendors that enhance their businesses. Opportunities to engage with each other and network. Meaningful communication is a high priority for New Voices New Rooms.

What have been some of the challenges to creating this event?

How can we make this easy, safe, responsive, engaging, and worthwhile?

Linda-Marie Barrett, SIBA

Linda-Marie: Running a virtual trade show is new to SIBA and NAIBA, though we’ve both been running online events for years. We’re learning new things every day, and challenging ourselves to consider every angle of our programming from an attendee’s perspective. How can we make this easy, safe, responsive, engaging, and worthwhile? We have a great team in place that’s tech-savvy, very experienced with running a trade show, and focused on doing this expertly.

Eileen: The technical side of hosting a virtual event has been a challenge. It is not as simple as sending out a zoom invite and sitting in front of your screen at the appointed time. It is complicated, time consuming, and intricate, and we are fortunate to have the skills from the great staff at SIBA and NAIBA to guide us, research options, and create a platform that is user focused and friendly.

What are you most excited about?

Eileen: Through this virtual conference, the doors are going to open wide to so many more booksellers and publishers, and these new connections, friendships, and business relationships are so exciting for me.

Linda-Marie: One of the upsides to a virtual show is that geographic barriers are less important, and we will be able offer presentations from writers who would probably not be able to come to an in person event. So we’ll see more presenters from other countries, or who are usually in such high demand their schedule is very limited. And perhaps people who normally wouldn’t be attending a show. I’d love to see more editors at the shows. And because virtual means you get these little windows into people’s living rooms, offices, and lives, you get to “meet” writers in their own environment, so to speak. Imagine talking to a cookbook author in their own kitchen! (I really like to cook).

What do you hope booksellers will take away from New Voices New Rooms?

Eileen: These new voices in new rooms will give us all more ideas, contacts, and a stronger sense of belonging in our community.

Linda-Marie: Community is vital! It’s always been a goal of these shows to give our booksellers skills to help them make their businesses successful, and access to new books and products that they will want to sell. Those goals haven’t changed, but this year I think there is an added one: to bring our bookstores through the pandemic and begin feeling excited about the future. It seems like a long way away right now – everything is so volatile and uncertain. But we also need books and literature more than ever. That hasn’t changed, it has become more important. And I think our bookstores know it and want to be there for their communities.

Do you see New Voices New Rooms as a model for future events?

I think we are all learning and appreciating new ways of doing business and getting together.

Eileen Dengler, NAIBA

Linda-Marie: I do. It has been really rewarding working with Eileen and Kit at NAIBA and seeing their perspective on things, and I think it is a natural partnership. We seem to give each other lots and lots of great ideas! So we intentionally built New Voices New Rooms with the potential for future programs in mind. The “infrastructure” of the event is stable and ready to be used for more things if we decide we want to.

Eileen: I think we are all learning and appreciating new ways of doing business and getting together. As we plan and imagine the future, virtual events for bookstores and the associations will be part of our formats. New Voices New Rooms could very well live on. We shall take the good and move forward from there to a better place.

REGISTER HERE

Virtually Amazing!

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) are coming together to produce a combined virtual conference and trade show. In a nod to Truman Capote, the acclaimed writer with roots in both territories, this year’s theme is New Voices New Rooms. Booksellers, publishers, authors, and other industry partners will gather in intimate and larger virtual rooms offering creative, customizable programming not possible at in-person shows.

New Voices New Rooms will feature a fresh format spanning five days, crafted with care to answer the community’s call for shared spaces, networking, discovery of new titles and bookselling best practices, and plain old fun.

Attendee Registration for Booksellers
Sponsorship Information for Publishers
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