A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’d be speaking at the annual Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City in a post that included some tips for attending writing conferences.
I have to say it was a whirlwind type of weekend that included a lot of traveling, speaking, connecting, eating, and–I’m not sure how in retrospect–even some new writing. So I thought I might share what my experience was like and how well I followed my own tips.
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I Had a Plan
As soon as I was asked to speak at the conference, I jumped on Amazon and ordered a copy of the most recent edition of Not For Tourists Guide to New York City. It’s a handy little guide that breaks down Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs into sections with listings of local restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping, farmer’s markets, landmarks, and more. Plus, it’s got a nifty map of the public transportation routes.
Then, I started letting people know I would be in town–so that we could try to meet up when I wasn’t conferencing. And I started digging through the speakers list to see who I already knew, which sessions I wanted to try and catch, and figured out where I needed to be myself.
Believe me, I had a plan.
I Was Open to Changing the Plan
The week of the conference, Delta started having issues with their computers and many flights early in the week were grounded as a result. So I have to admit, I was a little worried that I was going to have drastic changes to my plan. However, everything was fixed by Friday morning, and I made it into Laguardia on time and ready to roll.
I spent Friday afternoon with my brother, who lives in Astoria and showed me around his neighborhood a bit. Then, we walked about 10 miles in the crazy New York heat wave and guzzled several bottles of water in search of an actual Mister Softee ice cream truck (according to my brother, there is a difference).
On Saturday, I introduced Richard Campbell, Cheryl Klein, and Donna Russo Morin; moderated a panel on effective marketing strategies with Fauzia Burke, Dan Blank, Caroline Leavitt, and Amy Quale; and presented “How to Find Freelance Writing Success,” a presentation I’d done a few times previously. Then, I watched David Baldacci give a kick-butt key note, and I was able to meet Linda G. Hatton, a Poetic Asides blog reader and Facebook friend, at our WD cocktail hour and signing session.
On Sunday, I introduced children’s author Debbie Dadey, who’s sold millions upon millions of books, before giving my final presentation: “How to Build an Audience and a Business With Your Writing.” So most everything that did happen, I had sort of planned for, but I did make one big change.
On Saturday night, after going out for dinner and drinks with co-workers, I stayed up until well past midnight tweaking my presentation for Sunday. And then on Sunday, I kind of went off script and spent more time in Q&A mode than I expected–mainly because I noticed that many of the attendees had already been in multiple marketing sessions; odds were good that they had specific questions they wanted answered.
I Connected With People
Fun fact #1: I love people; I love being around people; places like New York City totally energize me, because of the people.
Fun fact #2: I’m a total introvert and fail at small talk.
So I like to be around people, but I don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers. O, holy paradox!
That said, I do make new connections at these events, and these new connections become friends who I feel comfortable talking to when I run across them again in the future. In fact, that’s how I tend to do best is by making one friend, who then introduces me to someone else, who then introduces me to someone else, who then…well, you know where this is leading.
I connected in person, and I’ve already sent some friend requests out on Facebook to keep the conversation going in the future online. So yeah, I connected.
I Made a Post-Conference Plan
Before I went to the conference, I knew I would do a few things: send out friend requests to people I met, create a conference recap blog post, and send out e-mails to people who attended my sessions–with copies of my PowerPoint presentation and other information that might interest them.
While I was at the conference, I made few more “top secret” plans that will hopefully bear fruit over the coming weeks and months. And I admit, it’s hard to re-focus on the day-to-day tasks after an exciting conference, but that’s why you put together a post-conference plan in the first place.
The excitement of the weekend was great, but now it’s time to get back to the real work of writing and creating great things.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. He edits the Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market books, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, maintains the Poetic Asides blog, co-hosts a podcast for writers with Brian A. Klems, speaks at conferences, leads online webinars and tutorials, and so much more.
Robert is also the author of Solving the World’s Problems, a poetry collection published by Press 53. A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he’s been a featured poet across the country at poetry events in Austin, Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, and more.
Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.
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