Last week, members of the Silverchair and Hum teams travelled to Chicago for the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) meeting, the first in-person conference for most attendees since early 2020. The meeting achieves many goals for Silverchair in one fell swoop, serving as a prime event for community building, client meetings, discussing problems and opportunities with prospective clients, learning more about changes in our industry, and of course, catching up with friends and colleagues we’ve known forever but only seen lately in a Zoom box.

Here are some of the takeaways from our team:

ssp 2022 collage or people having dinner, exhibit booth, and certification of appreciation

Hannah Heckner – Director of Product Strategy

The SSP meeting was both energizing and exhausting (but in all the best ways!). This meeting feels to me a lot like summer camp because I’ve been attending them for about five years now, across a lot of different stages of my career, and while the first year it was a daunting event with new faces, experiences, and rituals, this meeting is now a fixture in my summer calendar that serves as a happy reunion with colleagues and connections (and also includes some lanyards and other souvenirs).

As someone on the Product side of things, I was most excited about participating in conversations regarding our expanded support for new content types, namely digital meeting content. There were some great sessions focused on how to best support the increasing number (and value) of enduring digital meeting materials, and it was great to hear so much of what we’re building be validated by market stakeholders. One incredibly well-moderated session discussed how rather than a unilateral approach to hosting + productizing meeting artifacts, there should be a sliding scale of modalities for kind of content. While some sessions should be made into enduring, revenue-generating products and should therefore have extensive resourcing to be as well-prepared and captured as possible, there may be others that could still provide a member or attendee benefit, but should possibly not last forever, and should therefore not have extensive resourcing as far as hosting/lighting/AV.

Another high point for me (and many attendees) was the opening plenary delivered by Shermann ‘Dilla’ Thomas—an electrician by trade but a TikTok historian and tour guide by passion. His talk was engaging and informative as well as a call to action to make research as accessible to as many as possible. While it may not lead to all scholarly publishers in attendance tearing down their paywalls, I think his talk was an indication that the at times slow-moving, traditionally academic industry of scholarly publishing is opening itself to new ideas, faces, and perspectives, and I’m here for it.

 

Walker Swain – Business Development Manager

As a member of the Sales team, I've been on quite a lot of Zoom meetings with both current and prospective clients in the past several months, trying both to ascertain where we can further help our current clients and what opportunities exist to grow our community. The conference was, simply put, a huge reminder that when building these types of relationships—especially as the new guy—there's just something lost when not in person. Hybrid work has many advantages that are worth maintaining in my opinion, but for me SSP was a reminder that at least some business is better pursued—and more fun—in person.

 

Sarah Heid – VP, Customer Success

SSP is always a delight for the Customer Success team because there are few places where so many of our clients are in one place, together, and IN PERSON. It's been hard the last couple of years building and maintaining relationships from afar. It's no wonder you could feel the energy of the conference from a mile away. Even with talking to clients regularly, being able to see them and HUG them was perfection! I definitely left with a full and happy heart.

 

Paul Sanders – VP, Delivery

SSP was such a wonderful exposure to the industry, our clients, and Silverchair's place amongst them. The industry is really working through what it means to be accessible and relevant to wider audiences; particularly younger demographics with new and exciting perspectives that technology and innovation will be at the core of. I return prouder than ever to wear the Silverchair name after seeing how we fit in to this important work.

 

Craig Griffin - VP, Solutions Engineering

The 2022 SSP meeting was particularly remarkable in a number of ways. I’ll go light on the angle of ‘it was good to see everyone after 2 years’ and talk about other aspects that this meeting was different than years past, in The Before Time.

The one biggest takeaway by far is the contrast in effectiveness of talking to prospective clients in person vs. remotely. In terms of building new relationships, in-person meetings have a 100x factor of effectiveness vs an email. The meeting was high energy and we walked away energized and brimming with new connections.

My second takeaway was how strange it was to see ‘the rest of the person’ that I had only met on Zoom before. Meeting someone I’d been talking to for a year, I quickly discovered that he is 6’7”. On screen everyone is the same size talking head. Combine ‘virtual-only’ interactions with masks in person, and it makes for some awkward interactions. I was looking for an industry colleague for a while and inadvertently followed after people who might fit bill, but in actuality were not. So awkward.

Overall, SSP was a great meeting this year and, I’ll say it, it was good to see everyone after 2 years.

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