Monday, January 28, 2013

Networking: It's Why You're There

You just flew into town and put your bags in your hotel room. Your fee into the writer's conference was paid months ago, so now that you're on the conference floor, it's time to relax and enjoy the conference. Right?  


Networking: It's Why You're There
Networking... the real-life Game of Thrones
As I discussed in an earlier blog, regardless of whether you're attending a conference, workshop or retreat, the networking opportunities are high at all three. But an amazing amount of work takes place before you even get there. You have to do your homework first, so let's go over exactly what needs to have done before you arrive. Then I'll cover what you should do once you get there and afterwards.

Before The Conference
Before the conference is where you do your homework and make your battle plan. I recommend that you have the following networking preparation done before the conference.
  • Research attendees & plan interactions
  • Order business cards
  • Prepare your log line & elevator pitch
  • Plan 'must-see' presentations
  • Set conference goals
Research Attendees & Plan Interactions
On the conference website, they'll provide a list of the publishers, editors, agents, and authors that are attending the conference. Make a prioritized list of who is from where and what you want to talk with them about.

Order Business Cards
Business cards are critical because this is how everyone you meet will remember you. You want a professional looking card with multiple ways to contact you.
  • Mailing address
  • Home & cell phone numbers
  • e-mail
  • Website
  • Social networking sites
Your card says a lot about you, make sure it says what it should. You can go with a specialty design, just be sure it doesn't hurt your cards readability. Check out the following sites for design suggestions:
How To Design Your Business Card
11 Tutorials for Business Card Design
Business Card Design
Prepare Your Log Line & Elevator Pitch
Preparing your log line and pitch is information I'm not sure I'm the one to teach. But if you're going to network, you need to have these ready. Learn how and be prepared!

Plan 'Must-See' Presentations
Meeting Author J. Scott Savage
Your main task at a conference is to network, not joy ride. That said, there may be some very good information being presented at the conference, especially by authors and publishers you want to schmooze. Pick which presentations you need (like that one on blood spatter) from the conference schedule and let the others slide.

Set Conference Goals
I recommend prioritizing your goals by setting nine: three 'A' goals, three 'B' goals, and three 'C' goals. Nine is only a suggestion and you could have more or less depending on your needs. The 'A' goals take precedence over 'B' and 'B' over 'C.'
A #1 - Pitch to Susan Chang, YA Editor for TOR Books
A #2 - Pitch Lou Anders, Editorial Director - Pyr Books
A #3 - Sign up for Kaffeeklatch with Susan Chang
B #1 - Invite J. Scott Savage to lunch with writing group
B #2 - Pitch to Lee Harris, Angry Robot Editor
B #3 - Host meet & greet with other aspiring authors
C #1 - Attend blood splatter workshop, Sat. 4pm, room A204
C #2 - Talk to Shaun Ferrell about advertising on Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing
C #3 - Attend TOR room party
At The Conference
Now that you're at the conference it's time to attack! You know who you're there to meet and who you want to pitch your book to. You've got your goals (task list), so get going and make it happen!

The morning walk, next to Pyr, Editor, Lou Anders
I know it seems pretty intimidating, but remember that the people you want to talk to are there to talk to you too. To find the next big thing, they have to talk to a LOT of people. Just don't make yourself a nuisance to the nice folks. Remember that there are a hundred other aspiring authors who set the same networking goals you did. Don't monopolize the nice people's time, they won't respect you for it. If you ask an editor to listen to your pitch and he says to give him your elevator pitch, you have thirty seconds, no more. If you take two minutes, he'll stop listening to you at thirty seconds and ignore you after forty-five.

While you're at the conference, look for additional opportunities. You may meet a comic artist that has a great lead on a cover artist. Or maybe that elusive podcaster you've been looking for will be at the conference's morning walk across town.

LOOK for opportunities.

After The Conference
Now is the time to refresh the contacts you just made and show how gracious you are. But, again, don't make yourself a nuisance.
  • Send a quick e-mail or card thanking the individual for their time
  • If someone requested something (like your first five chapters), get it to them quickly
  • Take all your writer buddy's business cards and link-up with them through social networking and blogs
After that, there's only one thing left to do...
Get ready for the next conference!

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Anthony. Love the Game of Thrones pic!


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