5 Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Networking, At Conferences And Beyond

Ann GarvinThis week we turned our blog over to conference presenter Dr. Ann Garvin, an internationally published author, speaker and professor of writing and health. Her novels I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around, The Dog Year, and On Maggie’s Watch are each about women who struggle to find their way in a world that asks too much from them, too often. Garvin balances her literary pursuits with teaching in WI And NH while supporting other women writers and raising a family. To learn more and see her work, visit her website.

The Chicago Writer’s Conference is just a matter of days away. There is no time to lose. Here is some quick advice on how to get your money’s worth and meet the people you are interested in meeting.

1. Know why you are attending the conference. Is it for finding a writing partner, group, or person to commiserate with that values writing? Or, is it to observe others with similar interests to see if you fit in? Is it to meet an author or other professional and see if you can make this whole writing thing work? Whatever it is, figure this out before you go so that when you enter the building, you will have clear goals and confidence (see #4).

2. Do your research. Read about each session and presenter so that you can ask intelligent questions during the Q&A periods. Why is that important? You will position yourself as someone who does their research, is smart enough to ask a question that goes beyond what was talked about in the room, and it will add layers to your conference takeaways. Also, people will remember you and that is the beginning of real networking. Remember though, this is not a competition (see #3)

3. This conference is a Win-Win. Maybe you’re super successful in your “real” life, someone who demands attention and gets it. Maybe you’re one of those people who are always the head of the class, quarterback, Supergirl. At writing conferences, you all are on equal ground and that is the best news ever. At conferences there is no winning or losing, there is no competition, there is nothing but you, your desire to write the best story, and a chance to chat with others who like stories. This is your tribe so hold hands and stick together.

4. You deserve to be here. Hold this in your mind. If you believe this you can be confident that you are in the right place and confidence is a people magnet. Drop your insecurities about writing and own that you are at this conference for a reason, to learn and mingle. (see #1)

5. Take your meds. Now is not the time to wean yourself off your beta blocker, melatonin, or anti-depressants. Writing conferences can highlight insecurities faster than trying on swimsuits in February. If you’re nervous, take your meds, have a glass of wine or do a little yoga breathing. Whatever makes you feel human in your real life, will be a blessed relief while envisioning your future life.

I hope this gets you started thinking about how to make connections. We’ll be talking about these things and more in my networking session. Come on over, and maybe bring me a drink. We all might need one.

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