By Michelle Waitzman
The new year started with a bang for the Toronto branch’s monthly program. The first event of 2017 dispensed with the usual presenter–audience format and devoted the evening to speed networking.
Nearly 20 participants paired off to get acquainted for seven to eight minutes at a time. Icebreaker questions were provided for anyone who was uncomfortable striking up a conversation out of the blue. At the end of each session, everyone found a new partner and began again. This cycle repeated six times, and participants were then invited to stick around to continue their conversations after the official networking ended. I spoke to some of the participants at the beginning of the evening about what they were hoping to get out of the session.
For University of Toronto student Rosie, the event was an opportunity to explore editing as a career option. She is not yet an Editors Canada member, but she has been doing some editing work for her fellow students and may want to continue editing after graduation.
Adrineh recently joined Editors Canada on the recommendation of one of her editing instructors at Ryerson. Adrineh currently works in corporate communications and she’s taking courses to hone her editing skills. She wanted to meet people who had made the leap to full-time careers in editing.
Some of the participants at the event were writers/editors who are trying to find the right balance in their clients and their careers. Others were established editors interested in expanding the areas they work in. There were people working in a variety of editing areas including academics, websites and blogs, magazines, non-fiction, fiction, and corporate publications.
Although newbies outnumbered veterans at the event, it seemed everyone found the experience beneficial. The participants shared experiences, tips, and fears about the editing process and discussed relevant career paths.
I spoke with Toronto branch chair Kerry Fast about why the executive team decided to dedicate the first meeting of the year to networking. “We normally have a professional-development type of program,” she said. “We bring in great presenters to talk about different subjects. But attendance was falling, so we wanted to try a different approach. We wanted to make the monthly program more interactive.”
The branch executive felt that it was important for members to get a chance to know each other better. Networking is one of the benefits of Editors Canada membership, so they are exploring new ways to facilitate networking opportunities. Last November’s coffee-shop meeting at Boxcar Social was another example of how Toronto-branch members are encouraged to gather in person and pick one another’s brains from time to time.
Judging by the buzz at the speed-networking event, they may be onto something. In a room full of seemingly quiet and reserved editors, the biggest challenge was to get everyone to stop talking at the end of each session. Clearly, they were enjoying the chance to find out more about their peers.
Michelle Waitzman is a freelance non-fiction writer, editor, and proofreader in Toronto. Before she became a freelancer, Michelle survived careers in TV production and corporate communications, after which she ran away to live in New Zealand for seven years.
This article was copy edited by Vanessa Wells.