We’re continuing today with our discussion of conferences. We began with Why Conferences Cost So Much, then moved to Learn Without Going, then, yesterday, talked about How To Choose A Conference. Today, we’re talking schmoozing - or Networking.
No matter what your reason for going to a conference, be it to find an agent, learn about writing, meet authors, or sell books, you’re going to be meeting people. I certainly hope no one reading this would go to a conference and be a total wallflower.
Step away from the wall, people!
Even if you’re the most shy person in the world, pretend you’re gregarious. Never hide at a conference. Walk right up to someone, stick out your hand (unless your hand holds a margarita, in which case, use the other hand or someone will snatch your drink), and say “Hi, my name is…” Especially do this to the person you see looking uncomfortable and sitting or standing by him or her self. If they look at you like you’re crazy, lean in close and whisper, “Helen Ginger told me you were very interesting and I should introduce myself.” They’ll either smile and offer their name or they’ll run screaming. In which case, move quickly onto the next person.
Each time you meet a new person, give them your card. You have cards, don’t you? If not, order them before you go. They don’t have to be expensive or custom made. Keep them on you in a place easy to reach and hand out. Ask if that person has a card. If they don’t, ask, at some point in the conversation, if they Twitter or blog or have email. Get some kind of contact for them. Write it down in your little notepad you’re keeping handy. Make sure you put their name down, as well. If they have nothing to give you and they don’t tweet, post or have a site, after you leave them, take out your notepad and at least note their name.
If they did give you a card, when you have a quiet moment, on the back make a note of when and where you met and the things you want to remember about that person. You may not have time to do this for every person you meet right after you talk to them, but do it in the evening before you fall into bed.
Networking is more than just meeting people and listening to them. It's keeping track of all those encounters. All right, I admit, it can be a pain and time-consuming, but it could also pay off big in the future. You meet not only experts, but authors who might provide cover blurbs, other writers looking for critique partners, business people who might give you personal attention when it comes to printing your business cards because they know you, people who can give you the inside scoop on upcoming workshops or up-and-coming agents, and more. All these people are out there. You just have to meet them.
1 month ago