A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)


A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

The ACFW conference is on the horizon and after two years it's going to be great to have the chance to see folks in person again. I'm super excited to get the chance to as many author and reader friends as possible. Readers, you say? Well, THIS year, ACFW is also having StoryFest so readers can join in the fun, so it's double the fun for authors. We get a chance to see our writing buddies AND hang out with the folks who love our fictional people!!
But conferences can be great for more than just socializing and aggressively hugging folks. :) They are also good networking and marketing places. In case you haven't heard this enough on Seekerville, let me say it one more 'gin. 

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

Visibility is important in marketing. 

Now, does that mean you need to spend all your time and money going to every writer's conference on the planet? No! I like people, but that sounds absolutely terrifying (and expensive) to me. However, if you DO go to a conference, then it's a great time to use your time well and engage in some friendly networking. 

1. Have a business card- for the newbies out there, this is a very good investment. It keeps you in people's minds longer than an introduction. It's also a good idea to have your photo on your card so that folks have both the auditory clue of your name/voice as well as a visual reminder of what you look like :)

2. Share the fun on social media - this is a great way for people who know you online to look for you if you're going to be at the conference. It's also helpful for those introverts who aren't as comfortable initiating contact with stranger, because you can find "your group" faster. In fact, the group may very well come to you if they know you're going to be present. (And, as always, social media is a great marketing tool anyway). 

3. Find your emotional support people - Like I said in #2, touching base with folks before you get to conference to let them know you're going to be there, sets up an opportunity for you to already have SOME people to hang out with. Plus, there's a good chance those people will know OTHER people, which then broadens your "visibility" within the community. You never know which connections will lead to the best connections. 

A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

4. Smile - yeah, yeah. This seems like a simple thing to share, but nerves can do crazy things to our facial expressions. Unless your smile is Joker-scary, then USUALLY smiles  are reciprocated AND have a tendency to make any face a little nicer. Smiles give off the vibe of approachable. I know not all of us may want to appear approachable, but you'll need to leave that side of you at home during the conference (or only pull it out when you're hiding in your hotel room after "people exhaustion". Bonus: ACFW is a Christian writer's conference, so we'd hope most people would be nice and approachable anyway. This is the time to branch out, put your best foot forward, and try to learn, grow, and build your community. I can assure you, most of the rest of us are there for the same thing and (don't tell anyone), but I still get nervous every time I go!

5. Being Prepared - sound weird to add this to visibility? Well, let me just say, folks who come in ready are more memorable. Ready to take advantage of the moment. Having those business cards, one-sheets, maybe a few first pages...those are great ways to show you've prepared to meet with folks. Also, preparing yourself by creating catchy elevator pitches is another. AND preparing your heart and soul through prayer and mutual encouragement is a great way too. 

Conferences can be crazy, but they can also lead to GREAT opportunities for you to network...and even build your own community of fellow I already knew some of the Seekers when I attended my first conference and immediately had a kinship with them. They introduced to other people. 

P.S. I support fangirling. That last photo is of me and Debbie Maccomber. I've also met Francine Rivers. I walked right up to them to introduce myself and tell them that I loved their books. (and I was nervous the whole time, I have this cool photo to share for visibility! LOL) 
Are you attending a conference soon? What would you like to learn more about as you prepare? Pitches? One-sheets? Business Cards? Etc. ?

19 Comments on Seekerville: The Journey Continues: A Few Thoughts about Conferences...and Networking :)

  • Erica Vetsch
    on August 16, 2022 | 08:34 Erica Vetschsaid :
    "Looking forward to seeing you, Pepper! I love your tips! It's been awhile since I attended a conference in person.

    My advice is to keep your agenda simple and short, and rather than "Get that Long Desired Contract" perhaps "Make a new Friend" or "Help Someone Out" would be a better daily goal while at conference."
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 09:04 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "GREAT tip, Erica! And I'm looking forward to seeing you too!!"
  • Sandy Smith
    on August 16, 2022 | 09:35 Sandy Smithsaid :
    "Great tips, Pepper. What should be on a business card? I have made them to use in my job as a substitute teacher, but what should a card for a writer say? Thanks!"
  • Beth Erin
    on August 16, 2022 | 09:50 Beth Erinsaid :
    "Pepper, what wonderful and practical encouragement! Knowing friendly faces will be present makes the people-ing more enjoyable for sure. I'll also be at ACFW StoryFest offering hugs, moral support, and other goodies 🥰

    (Beth has too many profiles to keep straight)"
  • Mindy Obenhaus
    on August 16, 2022 | 10:20 Mindy Obenhaussaid :
    "Great tips, Pepper. I can't wait to see you and everyone else that I've missed since 2019. I have a feeling this conference is going to be extra loud with all the squealing going on as we spot old friends in the hallways. It's going to be so much fun."
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 11:20 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "Sandy, if you have a tagline, you could put that on your cards. As well as what you write (mine say historical & contemporary romance). You will also want to list any relevant social media links. I need to get new ones made because I don't have IG on my current ones. A photo is important too because the people you meet may remember your face easier than your name. "
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 11:20 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "I'm definitely looking forward to those hugs!!"
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 11:20 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "HAHA!! I totally agree, Mindy!"
  • Karen Jennings
    on August 16, 2022 | 12:29 Karen Jenningssaid :
    "Hi Pepper, I love that photo of you and Debbie Macomber! Oh my goodness! I went to the ACFW website and the conference is in St. Louis!! That's only 4.5 hours away from me (I live near Joplin) I would LOVE to I'm praying and asking God what to do...I'm a widow now and going solo anywhere has been hard for me to do! I'm praying when I get off here and asking God to guide me. I'd LOVE to see all of you! I'd be like Mindy said above, squealing! P.S. Maybe I need to joing ACFW, too. "
  • Lee-Ann
    on August 16, 2022 | 13:32 Lee-Annsaid :
    "ACFW Conference is on my wish list of conferences to attend! After crossing the border a week ago, I wish I had've signed up for this year's conference. We didn't have any issues flying out or back into Canada. Next, I need to save my pennies (or would that be loonies now?) for an upcoming conference. :D"
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 13:34 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "Oh Karen, what an opportunity. I pray God gives you the best answer for your heart!! (But it would be great to meet you :) "
  • Anonymous
    on August 16, 2022 | 14:21 Anonymoussaid :
    "Pepper, I can't wait to see you and all the loveable, huggable, squeezable friends who attend the conference! If my hugs last too long it's because my catch-and-release button is broken and I have no intentions of repairing it before the conference, LOL!

    Thank you for all the great reminders to keep in the back of our minds as we attend and mingle. If you bring nothing else bring your phone and your smile. *Wear smile while taking a photo with all your favorite peeps*

    Good times will be had by all!!

    Audra (aka Anonymous)"
  • Debby Giusti
    on August 16, 2022 | 16:33 Debby Giustisaid :
    "Great advice, Pepper! I know this year's conference will be fantastic! I'll be there in Spirit!"
  • Jan Drexler
    on August 16, 2022 | 16:36 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "I wish I was going to St. Louis this year, but it just isn't going to happen. I'm cheering on everyone who will be there, though!

    My first tip: don't build all of your hopes and dreams on this one conference. This is not a make-it-or-break-it weekend for your career. If you're nervous when you're talking to an editor or agent, it isn't the end of the world. They've been there, too. Focus on one thing - making friends.

    Second: Even though it's going to seem like a burden to carry your conference bag around with you, do it anyway! Use it to carry your folder full on one-sheets, business cards, swag, or anything else you might want to give away. Who knows if you'll be at the same lunch table as an author you want to keep in touch with? Or even that dream agent you weren't able to get an appointment with? It's times like that when you DON'T want to leave your bag in your room "just this once."

    Third: take naps whenever you can. A tired author isn't always a fun author. :-)

    Have fun, conference-goers!"
  • Jan Drexler
    on August 16, 2022 | 16:39 Jan Drexlersaid :
    "Hey, Karen! You could try contacting your local ACFW chapter (the list is on the website) and see if you could join others who are driving up. Since you live so close, I'm sure there are others from your area who would be glad to split gas money with you!
    Let us know if it works out!"
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 19:18 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "Lee-Ann!! Oh, I hope you can come next year and we can meet!!"
  • Pepper Basham
    on August 16, 2022 | 19:18 Pepper Bashamsaid :
    "Can't wait to see you too, Audra. Hugs are so great!! Definitely good advice about bringing your phone and your smile! Memories are sweet!"
  • Dana R. Lynn
    on August 16, 2022 | 21:38 Dana R. Lynnsaid :
    "Love this, Pepper! I am so happy that ACFW is going to have Storyfest, too! I can't go to all the conferences, but I do enjoy this one. I remember my first conference. I was so sure that I'd get in trouble if I skipped a class I'd signed up for. Now, I feel that networking is as if, and sometimes more, essential at these events. I met my my best writer friends at ACFW in 2015, and we talk several times a week to this day.

    I have to say, I have a picture of you with that fabulous backpack in my ACFW album. It still makes me grin.

    Looking forward to seeing so many in September!!"
  • Ruth Logan Herne
    on August 17, 2022 | 05:51 Ruth Logan Hernesaid :
    "I know you guys will have so much fun in September! Enjoy! Wonderful post, Pepper... filled with joy. One arguable point via Ruthy-mode... Naps??? (SIGH...) Remember Ruthy's mantra via her old buddy Ben Franklin: "Plenty of time for rest in the grave." :)

    Naps are for old folks.

    Let's party! :)"
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