In a couple weeks, I’ll be speaking at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City. It will mark my sixth appearance at a Writer’s Digest Conference, and they’re always so much fun and filled with success stories.
In other words, I can’t wait to get there, and I hope to see you there as well. Whether you’re able to make it out or not, I do want to share a few tips that I’ve gathered over the years for making the most of the writer’s conference experience.
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Have a Plan
Before you go to your conference, do as much research as possible and have a plan of attack. Conferences cost money, so don’t waste time and money figuring out what to do after you’ve arrived. Figure out what the sessions will be and who the speakers will be, and map out how you expect to spend the day. Know where you want to be at 9 in the morning, at noon, at 3 in the afternoon, and so on.
Be Open to Changing the Plan
A plan provides focus, but be open to changing the plan once at the conference. If a session isn’t going the way you expected, be open to checking out another one. If you make a connection with another writer, agent, or editor, be willing to bend your schedule to keep the conversation going. One of the great qualities of live events is that there are often times when unexpected opportunities present themselves; be open to taking advantage of them.
Connect With People
Let me get a little personal here: I am an introvert. I am shy. I have big issues with talking to strangers. I love to listen, but it’s so hard for me to summon up the courage to introduce myself. And I know other speakers on the conference circuit who feel the exact same way. Does this describe you? If so, I totally understand, but live events are both energizing and exhausting because of all the great people who speak at and attend them. Connect with these people in a way that you can keep up with each other post-conference.
Make a Post-Conference Plan
Conferences are an investment, and they provide a lot of value–but only if you take your experiences and connections from the conference and put them into action. As soon as you’re able, make a post-conference plan of action items (that is, a list of things you can do). Maybe it involves starting a new project, revisiting an old project, following up with people you met at the conference, preparing a query letter (or sample chapters) for an agent, or something else. Use the conference experience to inspire you, and put that inspiration into action.
Do you have conference tips of your own? Or do you want to write a guest post on this or another topic of interest for writers trying to further their writing careers? Then, send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Maybe you’ll end up quoted in a future post, or heck, the author of one.
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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