Aside from experiencing the exciting program and fabulous opportunities on offer at Love Gone Wild, many of us will have another common goal: networking with our peers! While social media allows us the chance to ‘meet’ and engage with other writers, Conference about coming together as a collective and passionate community as well as enjoying the stellar professional development opportunities crafted by our dedicated Conference team.
Networking is an essential part of a developing writing career. Meeting people who write in your sub-genre, or who are at the same level of their career as you are, or who just understand what it’s like to be awake at 2am with a coffee and uncooperative characters jumping from mind to page is a valuable experience. But how do you make the most of it if you’re a little on the shy side, or don’t have a great memory for names and faces?
Planning ahead can help you be prepared to tackle Conference like a networking pro. Here’s how!
1. Crush the introduction
Introducing yourself to people can be daunting, particularly if you’re an introvert. You have the advantage in that the people you’re going to meet at Conference will be friendly and welcoming, but little ice-breakers can make all the difference. Strive to keep an open posture, and smile whenever possible. This will indicate that you’re happy to be approached. Another good rule of thumb is to wear a ‘conversation starter’ – a cute watch or a striking ribbon in your hair can work wonders, and may even help you stand out in the crowd. When in doubt, open with a compliment (“That t-shirt is so cool! I’m Louisa, nice to meet you.”) and always shake hands respectfully. Make it a goal to introduce yourself to at least five friends-you-haven’t-met-yet each day at Conference.
2. Be present
Listen carefully to the person you’re speaking with, and ask thoughtful, leading questions. Making the most of the chance to meet and talk with new people is very important – you will be surprised at how inspired you are by what others have to say. Focus on how the person you’re speaking to should feel when they’re conversing with you, and how great it was making a new connection. Don’t scan the room idly (you might come off as ‘disinterested’) or abandon the conversation to connect with someone you might deem to be ‘more important’.
3. Know your goals
Making a good first impression is important, but so is knowing your purpose! Think about your networking goals before the event, and ensure you’re armed with the knowledge to see you through. Research key attendees, including looking at their bio and pictures in the Conference program. Plan a list of people you’d like to meet in person – perhaps they write in your genre, or are part of an online writing group you’re part of – and set out to hit those goals.
4. Know yourself
Ensuring that you have your elevator pitch ready to go is a sure-fire way to be professional put-together at Conference. The ‘So, what do you write?’ question will crop up fast and be repeated many times throughout the weekend, and practising what you will say will ensure you can give people the 101 quickly, and in a memorable way. Unless questioned however, try not to focus too much on what you do. Networking may result in business opportunities down the track, but being ‘salesy’ will mean you’re remembered for all the wrong reasons.
5. Continue the connection
Have you ever had to hastily find a pen and scribble your email address or Facebook details down for a new friend? Ensure that your social media links are updated, refreshed, and have interesting new content in the lead up to Conference. Have business cards with your details printed, or even print little ‘contact strips’ at home to give out to people so that you don’t interrupt the flow of your conversations. If you make a commitment to connecting further with someone, it’s good to do it as soon as possible. Better yet, do it while they’re present. Not only does it show that you’re interested in them, but it lessens the chance of you forgetting to do it later.
If you’re the journal sort (like me!) then keep a record of your time at Conference. Jotting down ideas, things that have inspired you, or things you’d like to do or follow up on after Conference will help you remember and be prepared for the post-Conference catch-up when you get home.
Registrations for Love Gone Wild close on 15 July 2017. Register now!
About the Author
Louisa likes Pina Coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain. She lives in Mandurah, Western Australia, works in communications and PR by daylight, and drinks more coffee than is good for her. When she’s not writing or researching projects, Louisa enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her Great Dane, Harriet. Hobbies include playing video games, watching copious amounts of tv, and various craft-related initiatives.
She strongly believes that the truth is still out there.