This weekend, RWA San Diego will be co-sponsoring the California Dreamin’ Writers Conference in Brea, California. Conferences are a great opportunity to learn, network, make friends, and pitch your manuscript. I’ll be there myself, and as a first-time attendee, I’ve been scouring the Internet to find tips on how to make the most of my conference experience. Here are some of the tidbits I keep reading over and over again:
What to Do
- Attend workshops. Conferences offer a plethora of educational seminars and interactive sessions. Try to attend as many as possible to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available and gain insight into the industry.
- Practice your pitch. It isn’t very often that you have a captive audience with an editor or agent. That time is precious and fleeting! Know what you’re going to say, and make sure you’re comfortable actually saying it. (For those attending CDWC, Beth Yarnall and the team will be leading a Pitch Practice on Friday night at 8PM!)
What to Bring
- Business cards. You’ll be handing them out at all those awesome networking events. For some great advice on how to design an author business card that’ll work to your advantage, see this post.
- An old-fashioned notebook and pen. All that great information you learn in the workshops won’t mean a thing in the long-term if you forget what was said. Make sure you take notes! And if you’re attending CDWC, log onto the Yahoo! group to download and print out all the useful handouts that go along with the workshops you plan on taking part in.
What to Avoid
- Pitching to agents and editors in the bathroom. Seriously. Apparently, there are people that do this. Don’t be one of those people.
- Clamming up. There are so many fantastic opportunities to network at a conference. Many of us writers tend to be introverts — socializing can sometimes be a little draining, right? But now is the time to let your inner extrovert shine through! Chat with your tablemates at dinner. Strike up a conversation in the elevator. Attend all the mixers and social events, and be ready to participate in discussions. I’ve read countless tales of writers who’ve made lifelong friends at conferences. Who knows — maybe you’ll meet your new BFF at the “Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Bar” during Friday night’s dessert reception!
Do you have any advice for conference-goers this weekend? If so, please share in the comments.
See you on Friday in Brea!