Tips for Getting the Most from Writing Conferences and Conventions

Let’s face it. Writers conferences and conventions can be pretty intimidating–especially for new authors. 

You might feel like the little fish in the pond. Well, that’s how I felt at first anyway. I mean, you’re in attendance with some of our industry’s best and brightest. So is there anything you can do to ensure that you stand out and form positive connections? 

Luckily, there are a few strategies, and they’re pretty simple to implement. 

Let’s go over 5 different ways you can become a professional attendee at your net convention or conference.

Take Care of Yourself So You Can Be Energetic and Alert

You’ve probably heard it before. Healthy body, healthy mind. And there’s a reason for that…. It’s because it’s true!

Writers conferences are notorious for providing great information, facilitating networking opportunities, and wearing you out in the fast-paced process. While often being super-beneficial to your career, a convention can seriously take a toll on your body. 

This can be a problem because most of us don’t make our best impressions when we’re tired, hungry, and grumpy. To make sure you’re at your best for meeting new people, you need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Also, most of us aren’t very good at learning new things when we’re feeling sluggish. So it really is important to make your health and energy a priority. 

First, you need to pay attention to what you’re eating. At many events, there’ll be tons of sugary snacks or quick bites served to keep your hunger satiated. But are those really good for you or your conference outcome? No.

The best way to ensure you get what your body needs is to pack your own fuel. Bring healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, or healthy carbs. These snacks won’t just fill you up — they can provide the energy you need to make it through the day without a heavy crash. 

And watching your food intake isn’t the only way to maintain your body. Be sure to get some rest! As tempting as it may to stay out all night pushing your network, you still need to sleep. Or else you may end up useless the next day. Set a bedtime, and stick to it.

Choose Wisely which Breakout Sessions to Attend.

Most conferences are not like a timeshare pitch. There isn’t just one super long presentation. There are often many different lectures going on at the same time. 

You just need to figure out which ones are the most beneficial for you. 

It’s okay to skip sessions that don’t pertain to you. If you have no interest in starting a podcast, there’s no need for you to attend a session on that topic. Your time may be better spent elsewhere, such as a talk on how to build your author brand.

Conference burnout is a thing, and it will happen so much faster if you don’t manage your time properly. The best way to avoid this is to plan ahead. Get your hands on a copy of the conference’s schedule and create your own roadmap.

You’ll find yourself much more relaxed and able to absorb more info. Remember, when it comes to conferences and conventions, it’s always quality over quantity.

Go to your convention prepared and armed with objectives.

When you head to your conventions and conferences, go as a boy scout.

Be prepared.

If you’re looking to gain anything from an event, you need to have a battle plan. And I don’t mean just what sessions you’ll attend. 

You need to figure out just who you want to try and get one-on-one time with. Or what questions you want answered during Q&As. And even who your primary networking targets are. The whole point of attending conferences is to learn and grow your network.

This can be accomplished through a number of methods. First of all, reach out to those you’re really looking to meet ahead of the event. Send a simple email to an individual or speaker asking for a quick ten minutes of their time. It may seem trivial, but speakers normally have very limited time. If you can get penciled in…That’s awesome!

Also, if you don’t have your author business cards ready, start working on them now. Sometimes all you’ll have time for is a quick card swap for later discussion. Don’t be that guy jotting down number on a napkin you swiped from the snack table.

Take notes. And lots of them.

Going to conferences can be super valuable, but they can actually be a huge waste of time and energy if you don’t retain anything from them. 

Carry along a journal or ledger and jot down everything that’s important. The more detailed, the better. And don’t just take notes on presented subject material either. New network connections, inspired business or writing ideas, and even ideas for future conferences are great to have handy.

Just remember, going to a conference can be overwhelming. But you’ll be able to get your money’s worth and have a great time if you properly prepare and take care of yourself while there.

Cheers!

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

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