By Writer's Relief staff:
Many writers have to work hard to express confidence in their own writing, sweating through open mike readings, struggling with promoting themselves online, and—this may be the worst of all—introducing themselves at meet-and-greet events like conferences and writing retreats. The following tips will help you prepare for those encounters so that you can represent yourself and your writing to literary agents, editors, and fellow writers with professionalism and confidence.
4 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO Before The Event:
Research. Make sure you know not only what organizations or people are running the event but who will be in attendance. If the event has a website, make sure you visit it. After all, the idea is to make new contacts, so you’ll want to put your best—and most appropriate—foot forward.
Get in the zone. Get plenty of sleep, relaxation, and as much emotional support from friends and family as possible. It’s hard to make a good impression when you’re feeling tired or insecure. And remember to keep everything in perspective during the event—you won’t be blacklisted for life if you forget someone’s name or stutter while introducing yourself.
Prepare your outfit and accessories ahead of time. Don’t let a last-minute wardrobe snafu derail your otherwise well-thought-out plan. Get your suit dry-cleaned, shine your shoes, make sure your blow-dryer works, etc.
Make sure your business cards are ready! Unless everyone you meet has a perfect memory, they’ll appreciate your handing them a business card to remember you by.
4 Tips For Making A Lasting Impression (In A Good Way):
Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact, and smile, smile, smile. If you look distracted or unfriendly, people will remember you as the person to avoid.
Refer to people by name as much as you can (within reason). Using people’s names will not only show them that you were listening when they introduced themselves, but it might just be that something that distinguishes you from the crowd later on when they receive your submission.
Be memorable by being unique. Rather than introducing yourself as just a writer, say something more descriptive, like, “Nice to meet you. I write visual poems. What do you do?” By offering something more specific about the type of writing you do, people are likely to remember you better from the sea of writers in the room.
Make conversation by talking about more than just what it is you do or pitching your work. Discuss any lectures given, ask if he or she knows anything about the venue, etc. By offering some communication on a person-to-person level, you’ll stand out from the crowd and possibly even make some genuine friendships.
(AND IN CASE THIS WASN’T OBVIOUS) 4 THINGS YOU SHOULD NEVER DO:
Don’t spend all your time drinking cocktails. You’re here to make important contacts, not cash in on an open bar.
Don’t don an inappropriate outfit—nothing too revealing or casual.
Don’t text, tweet, check your social media profiles, answer calls, or even so much as glance at your phone while having a conversation. (In fact, try to avoid these things at all costs, even when not having a conversation. The more you look at your phone, the less approachable you become.)
Don’t crack jokes. You’re introducing yourself at a writing event, not making a wedding toast—no one expects you to put on a comedy routine. Just be yourself.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KEEP IN MIND:
The purpose of attending a writing conference or publishing-industry event is to network and make connections. When you get home, don’t toss all the business cards you collected in a drawer and forget about them. Keep them in view, and send some emails within the next few days. Make sure to mention as many specific topics of conversation you can to help that person remember who you are. You never know, one of those emails may just lead to establishing a writing group, receiving helpful editing advice from an expert, or even gaining literary agent representation for your book!
For more from Writer's Relief, click here!