If you’re an introvert, you have finite social energy. Here’s how spend sparingly while widening your professional network at busy, bustling conferences.
If you’re like many writers, you have an introverted side. You might like to stick to yourself or a circle of close friends, shying away from social events with strangers — especially when small talk is inevitable. How does an introverted writer work in an extroverted world where you’re expected to make connections to further your career?
It’s easier than it sounds: Network in a manner that’s fits your style. It’s even easier at writing conferences, as some of your fellow attendees will share your hesitation to self-promote. You’ll find yourself looking forward to attending writing conferences — instead of avoiding them — if you follow a few steps.
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Keep a Positive Attitude
If you’re an introverted writer, you might discourage yourself from participating. You might worry writing conferences are composed of bad writers in hotel conferences room talking about their lame novels or how the weather has been surprisingly hot, cold, wet or dry.
Drop those preconceived notions. There are a number of intelligent, sincere writers who attend conferences. The more open you are to fellow writers, the more deeply you’ll engage and gain valuable insights and advice.
Step Outside Yourself
One of the best ways to establish a relationship with your conference colleagues is to offer a sympathetic, supportive ear. After showing yourself to be a careful listener and knowledgable writer, you’ll have created a real personal connection instead of feeling the need to self promote. Inevitably the conversation will turn to meeting your concerns.
Plan for Success
As an introvert, you might put pressure on yourself to be highly presentable and knowledgable. Take the pressure off yourself by conducting some research on the speakers and notable attendees — use what you learn as an ice breaker.
Find out what types of writers will be attending. Are they fiction authors? DIY experts? Poets? You’ll be able to make conversation easier if you’re in the same field. It also won’t hurt to have read some of the work written by other attendees.
Go For the Close
The best way to turn a conversation into a relationship is to change the setting. If you strike up a great conversation with someone at a conference, ask them to have coffee or lunch to continue talking. Spending time away from a crowd to talk about writing both flatters and greatly increases the likelihood of establishing a real relationship — especially if your interest in their work is sincere.
See also: Top 5 Ways to Promote Your Book
Keep In Touch
Silence is the easiest way to end any relationship. Once you’ve made a writing friend, don’t be a stranger. If they’re local, ask them out to lunch, if they’re distant, make an excuse to follow up, whether you solicit advice or send a warm email.
Even if you find networking to be exhausting, remember that, like any skill, it gets easier with practice. Beyond any professional advantage that expanding your writing network gains you, it’s also a terrific way to make friends in a notoriously difficult field.