Are you preparing for an upcoming conference? ‘Cause I am. I’ll be crashing the Southern Breeze SCBWI 20th Annual Writing & Illustrating for Kids conference in October (and I’d loooove to see you there!). This’ll be my first conference EVER, so I’m a bit nervous, and because of said anxiety, I’ve been lurking on the Internet and collecting conference tips. Here are some that I’ve wrangled for your prepping pleasure:
1.) Dress Appropriately. This might sound like a DUH moment, but if this item is almost always number one on all the conference prep lists I’ve read, so someone, somewhere, is not getting the memo. A conference isn’t prom. A conference isn’t the gym. Business casual. To me, business casual screams slacks, a shirt you’ll probably have to iron (boo!), and you’ll probably have to wear makeup and comb your hair and stuff.
2.) Dress Comfortably. I know, I know. Which is it, right? How about we keep the slacks and the makeup, but we add layers to our outfit, in case it gets too hot/cold. Also, the conference is not the time for breaking in new shoes or wearing stilettos, unless you’re particularly good at wearing stilettos (if so, email me and give me a few tips). You’ll be walking to workshops and hopefully mingling, so comfy shoes will be a necessity. Also, leave the perfume/cologne at home. People are allergic. And there’s this one kind of perfume that makes me vomit instantaneously, and no one wants to see/smell that.
3.) Bring Stuff. Stuff like a notebook with pockets so you can take materials home and take notes during the workshop. Bring a pen, people. Don’t be that person. The conference will probably supply some of these things, but bring them just in case. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to bring some business cards, even if you’re not yet pubbed. It should include your name, your mug shot, and your contact info. You never know who you’ll meet. You just never know. 🙂
4.) Be courteous. To the volunteers. To other attendees. To the hotel staff. To everyone. Why should I tell you this? Because it’s listed on other people’s conference lists, so again, someone is still violating this basic rule.
5.) Agents/Editors. Don’t pitch to them in the bathroom. They attend conferences to mingle and find new talent, yes. But pitching to them mid-stream is bad. Very bad. If you’ve scheduled a pitch appointment, then prepare for it. Practice your presentation until it sounds natural. Have material ready in case the agent/editor asks for it on the spot. (Not the whole MS. Just the first few chapters). This is also where a business card comes in handy. It will help them remember you when you send them your material.
These are but a few of the tips I’ve found. Do you have anything to add? 🙂