#SNDSF: Jon Wile shares 5 tips for networking and sharing inspiration in San Francisco

Wile_JonSND is looking forward to welcoming journalists, innovators, students and advisors to San Francisco next month for SNDSF: Evolving our Craft. The complete schedule of speakers is posted and you can still register for the conference here. To continue our preview of what to expect, we’ve asked a few frequent workshop attendees to share their tips for making the most out of the weekend.

Jon Wile is the Director of Design and Research at American City Business Journals. Here’s what he had to say:

“I owe a tremendous amount of my professional success to the Society for News Design, largely through the connections I made at annual conferences or regional quick courses over the past two decades. As a young designer I spent time at workshops learning from others by attending sessions, receiving portfolio critiques and making connections to designers and managers across the industry.

Now, as Director of Design and Research at American City Business Journals, the annual workshop is more important than ever, although I’ve changed my approach and how I spend time at the conference. The personal connections I make through the Society are the most valuable asset SND gives me, so here are some tips for managers — and non-managers — attending this year’s conference in San Francisco.

1. Networking

It’s great to step into the opening night reception and reconnect with so many other SND members, many of whom we only know because of the Society and only see at this event each year. Comparing notes and catching up with industry veterans helps us all better understand trends and happenings, as well as makes us feel connected to something bigger. And to the young designers coming to the conference for the first time, don’t be afraid to approach managers or other top designers so you can start building your own network.

Tip: As Julie Elman said in a previous post, no one will bite so don’t be afraid to approach folks you don’t know. I guarantee the personal connections you make in San Francisco will pay off.

2. Searching for Talent

Keeping tabs on people is a big part of the conference for me. I’m constantly recruiting and trying to figure out who might be a possible fit for ACBJ. I utilize connections to get introductions to students and professionals that I don’t already know. And even though I don’t always have openings at the conference, I’m searching for folks who could be possible fits later in the year when openings occur. Since arriving at ACBJ nearly four years ago, I’ve hired more than a dozen designers through connections made at the conference or known through the Society.

Tip: As I learned from a previous manager, collect business cards and enter information into a spreadsheet to create a database of possible hires for your organization. This also helps show ROI to your superiors and justifies why you should attend the conference each year.

3. Rewarding Top Performers

Sending someone from your design team to the annual conference not only shows your newsroom’s investment in that person but it rewards the individual with a few days away from the daily grind. Getting away and being amongst peers offers a recharge and perspective, and oftentimes, that individual will come back to your newsroom filled with ideas and re-energized.

Tip: Find a way to send your star to San Francisco! Get creative if you have to worry about cost. For example, see if he/she can room with someone else to cut down on expenses.

4. Giving Back

The Society has helped so many of us leaders, so it’s our time to give back. Take the time to talk to students, offer portfolio critiques and share the wisdom you’ve gained in the industry. Every connection you make has the potential to pay dividends for both sides, and you never know when or where you’ll find your next great designer.

Tip: Volunteer for the student critique session or buy someone a drink and chat about his/her career.

5. Having Fun

For many of us, most of the year is spent producing web sites, print pages, infographics and other visual awesomeness. Being in San Francisco allows us all to step back and take a breath, so take advantage of the chance to gain some perspective. And, most importantly, have some fun away from the office.

Tip: Come to SND Karaoke on Friday night, which benefits the SND Foundation, and watch everyone laugh as well as embarrass themselves.

To register for the 38th Annual Workshop & Exhibition, which runs April 7-9 in San Francisco, click here. Check back at SND.org for more program updates, interviews with #SNDSF speakers and previews of what to expect at the workshop next month.

Featured photo: Carlos A. Gonzalez/San Francisco Chronicle

About Courtney Kan

is a designer at The Washington Post and the editor of SND.org.

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