StokerCon 2017 was a great experience and I learned a great deal of wonderful information from the panels and workshops. But not all is to be gained from just panels and workshops.
These 14 tips may just help make the next conference you attend-the best ever.
1. Challenge the Panelist.
Don’t be dick about it, but voice your opinion. It can lead to lively discussions and a host of differing views.
During one particular panel I attended, the panelist and the audience got into a very informative discussion all because one person in the back of the room stood up and offered an opposing view. She did it in a completely complimentary way. Yes, it was a challenge to the panelists but it wasn’t a confrontation.
2. Don’t write while at a conference - write at home.
The conference is for networking, meeting and forming new business friendships.
While sitting at the bar one night I mentioned to a fellow writer that I brought along my tablet but I hadn’t gotten in a word of writing during the conference. His response, “Write when you get home. Conferences are for meeting, networking, sharing and learning.”
3. Go to the bar.
Even if you don’t drink, hang out, walking around, introduce yourself - it’s the best place to meet new folks in a casual, no pressure atmosphere.
4. Some of the best advice is to be had while standing in line.
While standing in line for a book signing, the folks ahead of me were have a conversation about characters and what is the best way to introduce them to the reader and how to describe them. The guy behind me interjected “Don’t tell the characteristics of the characters in your story, ie: he was tall, dark hair built as though he could bench 350 with ease. Instead describe them in ways they make you feel. “He was 6 foot 6 and looked as though he would beat the shit out of you just because he was having a bad hair day.” That presented the reader with a mental image of his/her own, one that they would carry throughout the story.
5. Go to panels that DON’T interest you.
It’s amazing what you can learn from something that you think you’re not interested in.
I discovered this by accident. I went to a panel and found that I was in the wrong room. I thought about quietly getting up from my seat and heading for the door, instead I stayed and glad I did. It wasn’t a subject that I had any interest in, but I left that panel with great interest.
6. Find your alone time.
It’s great to be going from early morning to late at night hobnobbing with wonderful writers, agents and editors, but it is equally important to find your down time. Don’t be afraid to forego a panel or workshop and take a nap, or a walk.
7. Bring the right business cards.
I always have business cards with me but at StokerCon 2017 all I had was the business cards from the company I work for. Sure it has my information, but it associates me with the company I work for and not as a writer. As soon as I got home I was online to order business cards that represented me and my writing.
8. Invite others to join you.
While I was with a small group hanging out on the deck, a guy took a seat at a table a few feet from ours. I noticed his StokerCon badge dangling from his neck. I got up and introduced myself to him and asked him to join us. I introduced him to the “gang” and his face light up… thrilled to be sitting with a couple of his favorite authors. As it turned out, he was a movie producer looking for content.
9. Go it alone.
Wander out of your comfort zone. Instead of hanging all night with those folks you know. Meander away and stand off by yourself, or walk around the room, I’ve meet so many new people that way.
10. Compliment someone.
You may have seen them at one of the panels or workshops or sat in on a reading of their book. Let them know how much you enjoyed it.
11. Sit out with the smokers.
I don’t smoke, but some people do, go and sit outside with them for a few minutes of conversation. It’s often quieter and the conversations are more relaxed.
12. Go to the gym.
I exercise regularly, but even if you don’t. Hit the gym for a quick run or workout. You’ll energize yourself and release any pent up negative energy and you just might meet a fellow writer or two.
13. Smile and say hello.
You’re going to be seeing these people for the next few days. Smile and say hello on day one and you’ll be surprised that by the last day, you’ve actually had great conversations with them.
14. Talk to people or at least be polite to people you don’t like.
I’ll admit it. I need to be better at this. There will always be people, be it fellow writers, an agent who turned you down, a publisher who rejected you, a editor that hated your work, or just the guy who’s an asshole, that we will inevitably run into during a conference. I learned that it’s easier to be polite, say hello and go about your day, rather than avoiding eye contact and skirting around them as though you don’t even know that they are there.