Conferences—you learn cool stuff, you meet swell people, you stalk industry pros. Today, I’d like to help you stalk with STYLE. There are really only three strategies you need to know to get the most out of your conference networking experience.
Strategy 1: Be Omniscient
This strategy works best if you have a specific target (or maybe two) that you really want to network with. Maybe it’s the dream agent that you absolutely know is your agent-y soul mate, or the famous author you want to someday blurb your book. If this is the case, your goal is simple. Before the conference, learn everything you can about them.
I’m not talking Google, here, folks. You need background checks. Maybe even a private investigator who can report their every move to you before they get to the conference. This provides you ample opportunities to learn important things like their bathroom habits so you have a better chance of catching them somewhere you can chat.
And make sure they know just how important they are to you! Show them the cute, telephoto-lens shots you got of them at their favorite coffee place, and impress them with how much you know about their personal history. If you really want to prove to this person that they’re your soul mate, it takes THIS level of dedication.
Strategy 2: It’s All About You
This strategy is perfect for the person who aims for the broader goal of meeting as many high-powered writerly people as possible. Here, you’re aiming for quantity, so you don’t have time to go to Strategy 1 depths.
So just don’t bother at all. In the end, this is about you and your book and not these lovely people you can use. You’ll want to make sure you stand up before each class ends, so you can get to the front to rush the presenter the minute they finish talking. Make sure you have a detailed synopsis of your book memorized, and have some tidbits of your life artfully embellished so you come across as someone THEY want to know.
You’ll also want to make sure to interrupt any conversations important authors, agents, and editors are having if you happen to see them as you walk by. This will ensure they remember you. You can’t pass up any and all opportunities presented to you, no matter what else the person may be doing.
Strategy 3: Kill the Competition
When it comes to meeting other writers at conferences, never forget that they are the ENEMY. You are coming face to face with the competition, and this kind of networking requires delicacy. You want them to understand you and your book are better, but you also want other writers to think you’re their friend, just in case you need them for something later.
Let them talk first—but not for too long. Be sure to interrupt to tell them how your book is the same genre (but better), you love blogging too (and your blog is better), and you’re also a plotter (but you plot better). This way, they relate to you on all the ways you’re the same, but they understand YOU will be the one to reach publishing fame first.
So there you have it, my friends. Three strategies to meet any and all networking needs. Honestly, it makes you wonder why conferences even offer classes at all, instead of simply lining up industry experts at the front of the room for us to mob at our leisure.
After all, it’s who you know, not what, right?
Shallee McArthur originally wanted to be a scientist, until she discovered she liked her science best in fictional form. When she’s not writing young adult science fiction and fantasy, she’s attempting to raise her son and daughter as proper geeks. A little part of her heart is devoted to Africa after volunteering twice in Ghana. She has a degree in English from Brigham Young University and lives in Utah with her husband and two children. Her YA sci fi, THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE, debuts from Sky Pony Press in November of 2014.