I admit it. I used to adlib at conferences. Planning for what is heavily a social event seemed over the top. But after missing a few opportunities, I’ve changed. Coordination before a conference saves time, improves your odds and possibly opens doors for your writing future.
When you decide to attend a conference, list what you hope to derive from the trip before you go. You’re paying serious dollars to participate, so get your money’s worth. Research the conference inside and out beforehand. Study the speakers’ and panelists’ accomplishments to better prepare for their presentations. Become familiar with the conference chairman and active organizers of the event. Tell them thanks and hand them your card. Who knows? Maybe the next year your might come to mind as they’re seeking speakers and panelists.
Have your one-liners ready. Ponder what you’d be inclined to ask another writer and prepare a one-liner answer. Of course there’s the one-liner for your book, but what about the ones that explain: what you write, what you’ve published, why you write, what’s your latest project, what your goals are for your writing career. Memorize those answers and jot them in your notebook.
Make a point of greeting and conversing with at least six people per hour–that’s one every ten minutes. Of course you’ll speak with one for five minutes and another for fifteen. Don’t worry about being precise; just work the room. As a shy person this is painful, but setting a goal gives me a sense of determination to accomplish the task. I’m always glad I followed through. Have your business cards, postcards and bookmarks on hand-and share them with the people you meet.
Have your notepad handy to jot down items to remember after you finish a conversation. Make notes during breaks. You will not remember those blinding flashes of brilliance by the end of the conference. Be sure to come equipped with your list of goals so you can make any impromptu additions.
Write on the backs of business cards to remember which opportunity goes to which person. At the end of each day, review your notes, jot down any scattered thoughts, and prepare for the following day.
Finally, plan your wardrobe carefully, packing with clear definition for each day–down to the shoes that are comfortable and the shoes that look good at a banquet. Business casual is fine, but make it crisp and sharp. The better you look, the more confident you will feel and the more memorable you will be.
TIP: The best source for finding writing conferences is Shaw Guides. Another is Writers’ Conferences & Centers.
C. Hope Clark is founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com, annually recognized by Writer’s Digest in its poll of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers. She delivers four newsletters each week to thousands with her specialty being grants and income opportunities for writers of all sizes. She’s published over 200 articles on paper and online. Those reluctant to promote their writing cherish her trade paperback The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. Find more hope for your writing career at www.fundsforwriters.com & www.theshywriter.com.