Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Networking at Conferences: Great Opportunities for Building Your Networking Web

By Connie Cox

Pretend you’re a solitary spider, trapped in a web of your own making, eating the same old flies in the same old way. Pretty soon, your spinning looks the same as it did yesterday and the day before.

Meet and Greet
First, little spider, be well groomed. Yes, those appearances do make an impression. Different conferences have varying levels of formality. Contact the conference coordinator before packing. Throw in something distinctive, even eccentric, if you’re so inclined. It keeps the myth alive that spinners of tales are a bit different. (What’s that? We are a bit different? Why don’t we save that for another article?)
Arrive early enough to shake hands and chat a bit. It’s okay. Spiders rarely eat their own kind during a public conference. Introduce yourself to at least three writers you’ve never met. (Hint: Pick the spiders hiding behind the plants. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.)
Ask questions, i.e., What do you write? You will immediately endear yourself and gain interesting information. Your new acquaintance might even return the favor and ask you the same question. Make sure that you listen more than you talk. Absorb the anecdotes and advice that your fellow spinners share.
Beware the sticky strands! Clumping, pairing and mobbing are frequent deterrents to meeting and greeting. Two spiders moving through the throng are seen as companionable as long as they are doubling their efforts to meet and greet.
Three spiders constitute a clump and are often seen as intimidating. Only the bravest of individual webslingers try to add a clump to their webs at one time.
More than three spiders are a mob. There’s not a solo spider alive who willingly walks into a mob with hand outstretched. While hanging with your friends is comfortable, you can do that at home. Don’t give in to shyness and waste a great opportunity.

Raise your hand, and you’ll find that you’ve just been elevated to the ranks of the movers and shakers. When you volunteer, you’ll be invited to scurry along the foundation strands of the network web. You’ll pick up threads for your own web that ordinarily you’d never have the chance to know about. Whether you keep the speaker’s water glass full or stuff the give-away bags, you are doling out your silken thread by helping others, who will be grateful. Soon, your name will be bandied about by all those high-profile webslingers. You’ll be offered another opportunity, and then another, until you’ll have your choice of the plumpest flies, err, tasks. And look how many spiders you’ve met along the way.

Beware the sticky strands! Volunteering, then failing to follow through, will damage your network web greater than if you had never let out your thread. Those gaping holes are difficult to weave over and spiders have long memories.

Connie Cox sold her first book through networking at a conference. That’s right! She pitched to a visiting editor, and nine months later, the editor bought the book! Check out Connie Cox’s debut novel, TAKING FLIGHT by Avalon Books to see what can be sold through conference networking. (available through Barnes and Noble, Hastings, and Connie has been writing for about ten years and loving/hating every minute of it! Visit for the inside scoop.

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