You're excited. You're going to a conference. Yeah! I love networking.
Are you prepared? I’m not talking about what do I pack or what type of clothing should I wear? That is a no-brainer. Business casual. I’m talking about how do you prepare to make the most of the experience?
Well, first, relax. There is no reason to become stressed. Everyone going to the conference is riding the same wave you are. The ones who prepare will land on the beach more gracefully, that’s all.
Second. Determine what is your goal in attending the conference? Is it to learn about the craft of writing? Are you interested in learning more about the publishing world? Do you have an agent and editor appointment in hopes of gaining interest in your work? Are you looking to network, and make connections with other writers or industry professionals? Whatever your reason, you do need to prepare.
1) This item is important for all the reasons listed above. Business cards. You must have plenty of business cards. Atleast thirty. You don’t have to special order cards. You can buy printable business cards at Walmart. The cards should have basic information; your name, pseudonym, address, email address and phone number. That’s it. If you want artwork, fine. Just don’t let the artwork over shadow your name and make your contact information so small it will take a magnifying glass to see the information. Remember you want people to remember your name not oh, how cute the kittens were.
2)You’ve identified your purpose of attending and that is...
a)To learn about the craft. Conferences schedules are filled with valuable workshops. It’s like going to a smorgasbord of knowledge and we tend to say oh, I want to see this and hear her, and my chapter mate is speaking. The thing is, we can’t be everywhere and hear all. So you need to decide ahead of time, what are your writing weaknesses and attend specific workshops that will help you. Don’t worry what workshop your friend is going to. She might need help with POV. You’ve got that down pat.
Or if you’re craft savvy, attend the workshops which lay the industry out. Don’t burn yourself out running from class to class, because there is one. Which leads to the next reason. Networking.
b)Networking. Most writers are introverts. We spend long hours by ourselves. We like being by ourselves. Suddenly we’re surrounded by people. Remember they’re introverts just like yourself. Be yourself. Smile. Say hi. Start a conversation. Exchange cards. It’s that simple.
Note of common sense: When approaching people who are having a conversation, study their body language. If they open the circle to you, then they too are looking to network, but if they turn away, however slight, move on. Their most likely having a personal conversation that at that moment is not open to newcomers.
Ahead of time, practice reciting the blurb of your book. This is not just for the agent and/or editors. Practice conversations. What questions would you ask of an editor or agent or an author you adore? It’s easier to have a conversation with someone if you think about it ahead of time. If you don’t believe me, try it. Think of three topics to discuss with your spouse or a friend. Practice and then have it. You’ll see. The conversation will flow.
Over the years, I’ve made tons of friends. Each has brought joy to my life. So go get them.
c)Finally, the dreaded editor and agent appointments. Don’t sweat it. Practice your pitch. Know your book. Know your characters and relax. Editors and agents are just people. They’re there hoping someone will wow them. So do it.
Last bit of advice. Have fun.
Anyone leaving a comment will entered into a drawing for a 2010 Autumn Jordon Pocket Calendar, so please share.