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 attac...er...hug 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.
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.
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 nerds...er....writers. 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, but...now 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. ?