In today’s installment of Get Pumped for Nationals! we’re talking all about the exciting networking opportunities available at the 2016 RWA Conference.
If you’re looking to connect with fellow romance writers and rub elbows with industry professionals, there’s arguably no better place to do so than the annual conference. Over 2,000 people from all corners of the romance world are expected to converge on the San Diego Marriott in July. According to the RWA website, past conferences have seen over 800 published authors, more than 50 agents, and an average of 150 industry experts.
But the only way to connect with these people is to put yourself out there. Here are some tips to help increase your chances of making new friends and establishing business contacts.
- Say hi to strangers. In my experience, romance conference attendees are super friendly and genuinely eager to get to know fellow writers. Whether at the buffet breakfast, the Keynote Luncheon with award-winning, bestselling author, Beverly Jenkins, or one of the two general speaker sessions with Dr. Valerie Young or author Sherry Thomas, take the opportunity to sit at a table with people you don’t know. Share your stories and experiences, including all the ways in which the speakers have educated and inspired you.
- Take advantage of the fun. The conference isn’t just about workshops and speakers (and food). It’s also about relaxing and having a great time! To that end, there are several events planned which will allow romance writers to put down the pens and let loose. Avon will be sponsoring a trivia Happy Hour to celebrate their 75th anniversary; there will be a screening of the romance industry documentary, Love Between the Covers; and the Killion Group will be putting on a mock photo shoot – complete with a live cover model! These are all great ways to connect with people in informal, lighthearted settings.
- Indulge in some swag. Promo opportunities abound at the conference, and exchanging promotional materials with other writers is a great way to help get your name out there, as well as to learn about other authors. The Goody Room will be open daily from 8AM to 5PM. Stop by early and often, both to drop off your swag (space is limited, and first come, first serve!) and pick up some others.
- Pitch to an agent or editor. If you’re pursuing a career in traditional publishing, you might just meet your future representatives at the RWA conference. Face-to-face pitches are a great way for industry professionals to put a face and a voice to your name before they read your work. Signups for agent and editor pitch appointments are open now, and filling up fast. (If you’re looking for some tips on perfecting your pitch, check out our post from a few weeks back.)
Above all, make sure you’re wearing your extrovert hat. The conference is a fleeting three days, and will go by in a flash. Take advantage of every opportunity you get to make a friend, share a smile, hand out a business card (don’t forget them!), and learn from other authors.
Make sure you come back to the blog for our next installment, which will dive into the amazing reader-focused event taking place at the conference, “Readers for Life!”