My last post focused on networking, basically how inept I am at that task.
With a new event that promised networking possibilities, I asked for help. And when you ask, people answer. I learned good tips and felt prepared to tackle the networking once again at the AWP Book Fair.
Website Up? Check.
Professional email? Check.
Brand spanking new business cards? Check, (they arrived the day before – that new).
Pep talk prepared to encourage myself mid-way through the day? Check.
Even though I felt ready, that little niggling of anxiety tickled at my core. So when AWP tweeted: “Ask questions now.” I jumped. “What’s your best networking tip?” And answers came. Bless the people who responded.
Here are some tips I received:
@awpwriter “Best places to hang out are the hotel lounge/bar to network.” and “Creative business cards are always a plus.”
@AaronGilbreath: “Don’t think of it as networking.”
@girlinblack: Said she made connections at past AWPs by tweeting on the conference hashtags.
@bethbates: “Be you and go to the dance.”
@kristinvanNamen: “Let your nerdy-self rule. See a literary rockstar? Jump up and Down, Clap your hands, do a little dance.”
Guess what? All the advice was helpful. Even though I wasn’t able to participate in the whole conference, the book fair was everything, and more, that I could have hoped for in an event. Aaron’s advice rang through my head the whole time and when the opportunity presented itself, I handed out a business card. But, it wasn’t because I was focused on networking, it just happened in the course of discussion. Apparently, I needed to let go of the pressure to ‘network’. Beth and Kristin’s advice was a great reminder and I was my all starry-eyed, nerdy self. I fawned over books, I sniffed rare books (yes, I love the scent of old books), I stared googly-eyed at editors of literary publications I’ve only heard of, and I lost my breath over at the Gotham Writer’s Workshop and The Writer Magazine table. These are my celebrities. I could care less if Brad Pitt walked into a room, just let me meet the people who write, edit, and publish the words I love.
If you are attending an event and nerves shiver down your spine and freeze your blood cold, take a breath. Take Aaron’s advice and don’t think of it as networking. Just let it happen.