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15 Tips for Navigating Writing Conferences

I love writing conferences and book festivals. These are good ways for authors to network with readers, writers, fans, bloggers, and others in the publishing industry. I learn so much at each one. Here are some hints that I've picked up along the way that can help you navigate events and networking.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. My Fitbit always gets a workout.

  2. Look into the dress code. Most conferences are business casual, but there are often award ceremonies that are more formal.

  3. Keep emails about events (with the contact information) that you're scheduled to attend. I always keep a folder with emails and receipts. It makes it easier if you have to remember a name or a time.

  4. Plan out your day of panels, workshops, and activities. Know where the rooms are. I went to one conference where the events were in two different hotels.

  5. Wear layered clothes. Conference centers are often too hot or cold.

  6. You're going to get a lot of books and swag. Make sure you have room to get it all back home. Many have mailing centers to ship items.

  7. Carry bookmarks and business cards with you. You'll network everywhere, and it's a good idea to have items to share.

  8. I have pins from several of my writing organizations. I usually pin these to my name tag. This helps when you are networking, and you often meet folks from your group from other chapters.

  9. When you do panels, workshops, or signings, bring a copy of your latest book. It creates a visual for the audience. I bought some portable book stands, and they work great to showcase the latest novel.

  10. Have your supplies handy (e.g. bookmarks, give-aways, business cards, pens, etc.) I have an emergency box with extra pens, scissors, and tape.

  11. Take lots of pictures for social media posts. I learned years ago from a social media guru to post regularly during conferences. Use the event hashtags and tag people that you network with.

  12. Bring a notebook or paper. Even if I'm on a panel, someone says something that I want to jot down. These events are a great exchange of ideas.

  13. If you're doing an event, make sure you have give-aways. Candy is always good (especially chocolate)! Many conferences have hospitality rooms where authors can leave bookmarks, postcards, or other goodies.

  14. Many conferences have silent auctions. If you're able, donate a basket or partner with several authors to create one. The proceeds go to a good cause, you made a donation, and your name appears on all the marketing material.

  15. Use your conference program. It's a great way to remember names of people you met. I thumb through it when I get home and follow new friends on social media.


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