Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Making the most of con connections

So you went to a conference and met so many amazing people. Maybe you reconnected with your tribe, came face to face to social media pals, or even discovered new voices you didn't realize you were missing. Making new friends and industry connections is one of the best parts of a conference and a big reason I think we all should attend live conferences.
Opening Ceremonies from UtopYA 2015

But now that you have a stack of business cards and phone full of blurry pictures, what do you do? Because connections don't mean anything unless you keep the conversation going after you've left bleary eyed and craving coffee. Here are a few tips for making the most out of your new connections.

1. Follow
Pull out that stack of business cards, bookmarks, and swag and start following all the new folks you met. The best way to stay connected these days is on social media, but that doesn't work if you aren't actually connected. You don't need to create new accounts to do this, just follow your new friends on whatever platforms you already belong.

2. Share content
Following isn't enough, if you aren't a part of the action. As authors we love it when people share our content and posts. So when your new friends post something great, share it with your tribe. That doesn't mean you want to fill your own feed with nothing but shared posts and retweets. Consider your own audience and then share content that you think they'd enjoy.

3. Engage
Social media is a place for wallflowers to dance in the middle of the room. That means you can't afford to stalk the feeds silently. Remember, social media is meant to be social. When you see your new pals out there chatting it up, say hello and join the conversation. Get to know each other outside of the tequila fueled convention nights.

4. Post about them
Did you read the book of your new pal? Show them a little love with an honest review. Then hit the airwaves with links to your review. Remember, your audience is full of readers who like to read books. That includes books that you didn't write, too. Book recommendations are a great way to provide your audience with a new read and show your connections some book love. Bonus points if you include a picture of yourself reading the book.

5. Make yourself available
You have a platform, now share it with your new friends. Obviously, this means keeping your own platform consistent. If you don't review books on your blog, you don't need to do a book review. But I'm sure there are other ways you can help. Maybe you can invite them to write a guest post or use their book/platform as an example in your own post. Whatever the platform, there are always ways to share.

6. Ask
Hopefully you talked about more than the quality of the hotel rooms and the latest season of OITNB at this convention. Just because the con is over doesn't mean those conversations have to end. Ask your new friends their thoughts on other bookish things. Don't have any questions right now? Ask them about other conferences they are planning to attend. Then you can go together and keep the party going.

You'll notice that none of these tips include asking your new buddies to pimp your own book. Because that is a surefire way to turn your new relationship sour. Focus instead on ways that you can help your new friends. But don't be surprised when they return the favor, because, authors, in general, are awesome.

4 comments:

  1. I really need to get to a conference soon. It's been too long and I always have a blast at conferences. I miss it.

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  2. I have never been to a conference, but I am dying to go!! There are so many choices... Sarah, Kelly, or any of the other blog readers, do you have any advice for a first time conference? Should I start with a 1 day or go all out to 3-4? Also, would you suggest a specific genre conference or just an overall writing conference?

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    1. There are so many different types of conferences, so it really depends on what you want to get out of it. Do you want to be able to pitch agents and editors, attend workshops, go to author signing? Decide what you want and then find conferences that offer that. I would recommend starting with a local conference if you can since cost can often be a big consideration. You can also check for local conferences offered by national organizations such as RWA and SCBWI. These can be great, more affordable options.

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    2. What great things to think about! I think pitching would be so fun....nerve-racking, but fun! Maybe for my first though, I will focus on a local one with interesting workshops offered by one of those organizations. Thanks for the info. I knew you'd have great advice!

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