I can attest that Avery Flynn is no wallflower. She can work a room and make friends everywhere we go -just try to quickly get anywhere with her at a conference. So, I think she me might be the perfect person to give great tips about making the most of conferences.
Big Mouths Not Needed
Conference season is almost upon us. The fun! The drinks! The talking to people you don’t know. Here’s how extroverts react to this situation:
My friends who are introverts seem to have a very different reaction. Often it looks like this:
Still, you invested the cash to go to one of these shindigs so you could meet other writers, make connections and further your career. Doing the whole meet-and-greet thing may not be your favorite, but often it’s a necessary evil.
Think you have to be an obnoxious big mouth like me to survive a conference, workshop or event full of strangers?
I may be loud, but I still have to psych myself up. Example: Cocktail parties make me nervous enough that I want to puke every time I have to go to one. That’s when I fall back on some of the lessons I learned every time I ended up being the new kid in school. Hopefully some will come in handy for you.
1. Don’t sit by yourself. This is hands down the best advice my sister ever gave me. When you walk into the room find someone who is also alone. A quick hello and you’re good to go.
2. In a workshop, sit in the middle of the room. The middle is your friend. People tend to gravitate toward the middle of a room when they’re picking a seat so instead of you having to make a move, most often someone will come sit by you.
3. Go for instant gratification. The line at the women’s restroom/buffet line/bar/Starbucks is an easy win. It’s the perfect spot to engage without being stuck trying to have a whole conversation. You can go with a quick compliment (cute shoes!) or observation (the line’s long but at least it seems like it’s moving fast). A few minutes later and there’s one less complete stranger in the world.
4. Find a commonality. At a writer’s event you have the bonus of knowing you at least have writing and reading in common. Most people love to talk about themselves so start there. Ask what you write and go forward from there.
5. Retreat when necessary. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Half the reason why I will run to the bathroom/take the long way around at an event is because it gives me a couple of minutes when I can take off my game face and take a deep breath. If you need the space, take it. Just don’t stay in the bathroom stall too long. People will talk and that’s not the kind of chatter you want.
So there you have it. My top five conference/workshop/event survival tactics. I’d love to hear some of your survival techniques so share them in the comments.
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Do you have any tips for making the most of conferences? Spill!
Christine Pride lets us in on a ll the editor’s secrets.
Avery Flynn loves a hockey-addicted husband, has three slightly wild children and is desperately wishing someone would invent the coffee IV drip. Find out more about her on her website (www.averyflynn.com), Twitter (@AveryFlynn) or Facebook (facebook.com/AveryFlynnAuthor). She posts all sorts of fashion, reading and hero inspiration pictures on Pinterest (pinterest.com.AveryFlynnBooks).