If I have learnt anything from an uncle of mine it is the importance of networking. My uncle, let’s call him J., has a foreboding office that as a kid, if you ever snuck in unnoticed, the first thing you would do is look up and see a gigantic roller deck of names and addresses. He would tell us that he never lost contact with anyone! How true this is, I do not know, however as a career skill it is undeniable; especially in the historical or freelance game.
To this end I have also begun to create, or perhaps more accurately cement a network. But true to my Uncle’s advice, and not an idea given at university seminars on the topic, I have tried to keep a wider network of talent beyond those based in my immediate field. The best example that I can think of right now has to be two young, freelance illustrators who have kindly contributed to my website; Joe Ward (brilliant sketches) and Ben Mills (a fantastic painting). Not the sort of contacts you are advised to pursue in an historical network within an academic setting, but it should be noted that if you go onto any website that sells books (possibly named after a rainforest/mythical tribe of warrior women) and type in some history titles, scroll to comments, at some point you will come across the common complaint of limited, or down right poor, illustrations/images/pictures. So perhaps our network should stretch a bit further than we may first suppose.
Another person of great value is a computer buff, in my case a man by the name of Alaric King (an appropriately historical name!), who enabled me to set up this site, talking me through the entire process from start to finish. A very useful person to have in a network, and one historians will need to utilise as more demand is put on them for a wider outreach.
For me the network is an exciting thing to utilise, challenging experts or abilities in other fields to produce something that in your naivety you thought would be simple. And as part of the network I in turn expect to be called upon to contribute to their work when necessary, a worthy act to maintain such a strong web of talent I think.