Monday, October 28, 2019

How Authors Can Maximize Attending A Conference

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How can one get the most out of attending a writing-related conference?

Let’s first define a few things:
·         Are you attending the conference or presenting at it?
·         Is the conference about the craft of writing, getting published, editing, book publicity, or book sales?
·         How big is the conference?  How many attendees?  How long will it last?
·         Is it online or held at a location?
·         What are your goals for participating?

If you are presenting at a conference, I would assume you are there to not only give back to those who attend but to commoditize the appearance.  Are you getting paid to speak?  Are you selling your book there?  Can you find clients for whatever service that you sell?  All good questions.

This piece is written for those who attend a conference, where their goal is to learn and have an action step taken, such as get published, sell more books, or discover how to be a better writer.  So what can you do to take advantage of whatever the conference can offer?

Look at it in three parts:
·         Pre-conference.
·         At the conference.
·         Post-conference.

There are plenty of things you can do before attending a conference that will position you to experience the conference more effectively. Start by consulting the website that’s dedicated to the conference. Look at who is going to speak.  See what they will discuss and determine ahead of time, if there are competing sessions, which ones to attend. Contact those who are giving a session after you’ve reviewed their biography.  Introduce yourself and tell them you look forward to hearing them present. For those whom you won’t hear speak, see if you can connect with them via social media.

Next, look at who, if anyone, is sponsoring the event.  Reach out to them and thank them for their support.  Invite them to connect with you on social media.  Share your blog or website with them.  They may be vendors who want to sell you something, but you want to sell them on who you are and to tap into their networks.

Reach out to those who are putting the conference on.  Ask if you can connect with them via social media. Compliment their organization. Look at their organization’s site and see what resources may be listed.  Ask them if you can submit a guest post to their blog or be considered, if relevant, to be a future speaker.

If emails are listed for the organization’s members or speakers, put them into your networking database.

If members of the media are attending the conference, see if a list of who is attending is available. 

If you have a book to promote, contact them. If there’s a newsletter that you can subscribe to via the conference’s organization, sign up for it.

If the event is in another city, see what else there is to do while you are there.  I don’t just mean sightseeing locations, but rather, are there publishers, media, authors, literary agents, or other members of the book publishing community that you can seek an appointment with?

Is there something you’d like to hand out at the conference – like a business card; gift, or special flier?  Find out how many will be in attendance and bring enough items.  Ask if there’s an opportunity to sell or showcase your book.

See if the website references the last time the conference was held and examine how the event is described.  What happened then and who attended?  Consider reaching out to last years participants and tell them you’ll be attending this year and welcome their advice on what to do or expect.

At The Conference
You are there to accomplish something, most likely to learn, sell yourself/book, and network.  Gather information by asking questions, attending as many workshops as possible, and socializing at meals or evening cocktails. Don’t be shy -- befriend someone. Always be ready to give your elevator speech and to ask people what they do.  Have business cards with you at all times.

Grab any handouts from anyone – you can filter them later.  Place your handouts, if it is allowed, so that others discover you.  Dress appropriately but seek to stand out, not blend in.  Be memorable in what you say, how you say it, how you act, and in the image you project.  

Be offensive minded.  That means reach out and say hello to strangers.  You have nothing to risk.  Staying on the sidelines as an observer is easy -- but not productive.

Follow-up on the email and social media introductions you had made prior to the conference.  Seek out people who had responded to you.

After a session concludes, walk up to the speaker and share words of praise, your card, and an offer to hang out later.  Again, you have nothing to lose.

Seek out the organizers and compliment their good work.  Tell them about your book and ask them questions about their group and why they got involved.  Exchange cards.
All of your hard work before and during the conference goes to waste unless you follow-up on the ground work that you set in motion.  If people contact you, respond quickly.  If you reached out to people who were previously, unresponsive, try them again.  If you met someone at the event, stay in touch with them.

If you enjoyed the event, plan on being at the next one. Even better, ask them if you can speak at it (if relevant).  Ask the organizers of similar events put on elsewhere that they know of. Look into attending those as well.

Post positive comments about the event on your social media, blog, or podcast – and share with those who attended or that you connected with. ?If there is a group hashtag, be sure to include it.

Who knows, maybe after you observed and experienced this event, you’ll want to put on your own conference.  Don’t dismiss such an idea.  Explore it and see what can be done.  Maybe you can pull it off by combining forces with an existing group.

Participating in conferences is a great way to be exposed to news ideas, acquire knowledge, test out assumptions, make great connections, and market your brand.  But the work of the conference, as you can see, starts way ahead of the event, and continues far beyond it.  Make the most of it!

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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