How the Next Generation Networking event unfolded

The term 18-30 may have its negative connotations, but I wasn’t too concerned about ending up on a booze cruise or a bar crawl heading off to FESPA UK’s first Next Generation Networking event last month. Held at the British Motorsport Museum, there were over 40 young individuals from the printing industry set for a day of workshops and discussions.


The initiative, headed up by Jay Burfield, is intended for the younger generation within the industry to make valuable connections, share their knowledge and inspire them in their career paths. There was no better way to start the day than with a motivating talk from Mark Wright, a former winner of The Apprentice, packed with tips on how to excel at work. The irony of a successful digital marketer speaking for the print industry was not lost on anyone, although his enthusiasm and passion for business sparked some interesting conversations around the tables afterwards. The importance of goal setting, ambition, work ethic and networking were some of the key points Mark covered, life skills that are not unique to any industry. Whilst many of the audience are only in the early stages of their career and may not be the most experienced at their current company, Mark noted that they have just as much to offer to their older colleagues in that they have an unrivalled knowledge of the latest technology. Anyone who is over 30 and has spent time making an Instagram reel will know. 


A short break later and a panel Q&A session was held with the supporters of the event, who discussed how they came to be in their current roles, their career paths and backgrounds and their top tips for progression within a company. Lewis Evans, Gary Giles, Sarah Lees and Tiffany Parkin shared some insights into where landing your first role in the sign and print industry can lead you further down the road, and echoed Mark in that they are still learning from their younger colleagues every day. 


Colin Sinclair McDermott led the highly interactive afternoon session, where he helped the crowd to write their own elevator pitch before this was delivered to a small group. Public speaking, no matter how small the audience, is something designed to push people out of their comfort zone. There wasn’t a single person who didn’t participate, and as expected, we all got to know each other a little better through the shared experience. The elevator pitch was a warm-up to a series of different forms of networking, from round-table discussions to speed networking, giving everybody the chance to improve their skills and connect with those they wouldn’t have spoken to otherwise. By the time we started the speed networking, even the most nervous in the room had become more confident.


Networking with peers is an invaluable opportunity for any person in any industry and benefits both business owners and their employees. There was a sense of renewed enthusiasm in the room following the event, and people could be heard exchanging ideas and experiences throughout the day. It was particularly interesting to hear how the few attending that were over 30 continue to network with others in the same line of work, all to the benefit of their own organisation. 


If you’re looking to build confidence in your younger team members, as well as spark their creativity through active learning, I’d highly recommend booking them onto the next event.


Upcoming Events | FESPA UK


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