Jessie: In New Hampshire where the birds are singing up a storm
Some of the highlights for the Wickeds each year are the conferences we all attend. We’ve mentioned some of our favorites here on the blog like Crime Bake and Malice Domestic with a great deal of affection. But even the best conferences are most enjoyable if you employ some conference-going skills. Today I’d love to hear about your tips and strategies for getting the most out of the conferences you attend!
Edith: One strategy is to give yourself permission to skip a session or two. When I get maxed out on crowds and delightful panelists, I let myself head to my bed for twenty-minutes of quiet. Maybe I’ll check email, maybe just close my eyes. Either way, being out of the busyness is very restorative. Another thing I like to do at sessions is to sit by people I don’t know. I greet whomever I land next to, ask if they are a reader or a writer, and get to know them a little. Sure, I hand over a bookmark and maybe make a new fan, but it’s also fun to branch out and meet new friends.
Jessie: Take a wrap or shawl in your bag. The temperature from session to session or room to room fluctuates wildly and it is no fun to have all of your attention focused on keeping your teeth from chattering.
Sherry: If you can afford to stay at the conference hotel. I think just as much happens in the unscheduled hours of a conference as they do during the scheduled events. Smile and talk to lots of people — that’s why you are there right?
Barb: I usually find it hard to talk to strangers, but the beauty of a conference like Malice or Crime Bake is, you already know you have something in common and a ready topic–crime fiction! Always introduce yourself, especially at meals and to seatmates at sessions. It’s easier than you think. Even the “big dogs” are accessible at these types of events. Tell someone how much their books have meant to you. I guarantee, they’ll enjoy hearing it.
Liz: Agree with all of these and would say definitely mingle! Take advantage of cocktail hours and times when people are gathering in a common space and go meet some new friends. The social/networking aspect is just as important as learning from the sessions.
Julie: Such great tips from my friends. I agree with them all, and will add a couple of more. First, provisions. I have a conference bag that I bring. I include a couple of copies of my book, bookmarks, business cards, Tums, cold medicine, ibuprofen, mints, and tissues. I bring a water bottle with me. I find out where the closest Starbucks is. Second, smile. Always smile.
Readers, do you attend conferences in your own areas of interest? Do you have a favorite tip to share?