Have you attended a writers' conference this year? Plans to attend any in 2014? Hey everyone, Annette here. Conferences are a great place for networking and fellowshiping with other authors. Bonnie Doran is here to share advice for what to do with those contacts you make. Enjoy!
Cultivating Contacts from Conferences
by Bonnie Doran
You’re a published or pre-published author and you’re headed to a writers' conference. Here are some tips to cultivate the contacts you make:
Arm yourself before you go. Print some business cards that introduce yourself. They don’t need to be fancy. I suggest your name, head shot, email address, and links to your website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook if the thing doesn’t get so crowded you have to use an eight-point font. Your cell number is fine but don’t put personal information like your street address or home number. Keep the cards handy.
You’ll meet a lot of fellow writers at meals and workshops. Exchange cards. When you get home, hunt down those contacts. Send an email, “Nice to have met you.” Friend them on Facebook. Follow them on Twitter. Comment on their blog.
Confession here: I didn’t do this until September. The Colorado Christian Writers Conference was in May. Don’t do that.
You’ll also hopefully meet some editors and agents during appointments. Ask for their cards and explain you want to send them a thank you. Send a handwritten note. These professionals seldom get a thank you from writers, so make yourself stand out. Enclose your business card—you know, the one with your photo on it.
If you have a published book or one that already has a cover design, ask the publisher for bookmarks. They may not print them for you, but they should provide the artwork so you can print them yourself. Hand them out with your card.
If you’re self-published, design the bookmarks yourself. It’s not hard with the templates and options the printers provide.
Another contact tool is to hand out writing pens with your name and website engraved on them. These are a bit more pricey but well worth it. I’ve had people at conferences ask me for another pen because the one I gave them sprouted legs and ran away.
Be sure to order your stuff early. My bookmarks shipped to another customer. The printer rushed a new batch to me, but don’t put yourself through that anguish.
Building relationships requires more than handing out contact info. Talk to the people you meet. Listen to them rather than spouting off about your latest novel. Be an encouragement to others and let them encourage you.
I met a new friend at a conference because we didn’t just yak at lunch and go our separate ways. We spent the afternoon talking and laughing.
Remember, the purpose of connecting with people at conferences is to cultivate lasting relationships, not to build your career by adding followers to your Twitter account.
Pray for the people you’ll meet. You never know what divine appointment God has in store.
Prepare, connect, and follow up. It’s that simple.
Bonnie Doran’s heart is in science fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and Sudoku puzzles. Her husband of thirty years is a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet. They share their Denver home with two Siamese cats.
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