I’m back from vacation and can now continue to share my adventures at my first Romance Writers of America conference. Here’s the first post, in case you missed it.
After the orientation, my roommate and I went to the Goody Room, a designated area where authors leave promotional material for others to take home. This can be books, trading cards, bookmarks, chocolates, lip balm, business cards, and all kinds of other treats. We grabbed as much as we could, then stopped for a quick visit at the RWA Online Chapter party—since I’m the chapter’s newsletter editor, I couldn’t resist—before heading back to our hotel for the night.
The next morning, I went to the Opening Session with guest speakers: Steve Berry, Diana Gabaldon, and Tess Gerritsen, who answered questions on the fly. Books and coffee were provided by Ballantine Bantam Dell. This session was fantastic! Not only did the speakers answer the questions, they interacted with each other, making the whole experience seem less formal and more fun.
I had a break in my schedule, so I met with my friend, author Virna De Paul. We chatted about our stories, writing, the business, and conferences. She also introduced me to a friend of hers and the networking began. This really opened my eyes because I realized networking doesn’t have to be done with complete strangers. You can often meet many people through the people you already know. Okay, should’ve been obvious, but the thought hadn’t crossed my mind until then.
One of the things RWA tells you to do (if you went to the First Timers’ Orientation) is to sit with strangers rather than your friends and force yourself to make new friends and/or contacts. With that in mind, I ventured to the Broadway Ballroom for the Keynote Luncheon. On the way there, I met a woman on the elevator and we decided to eat together. As it turns out, she’s self-published and looking for a freelance editor. How lucky for her (wink) I just happen to be a certified copyeditor. We moved toward the front of the room, even though it was packed with people. I didn’t see how we’d find a table with two empty seats, but we did. We introduced ourselves to the others at the table and chatted for a bit while we ate our lunch.
I should mention every time you sit down at a luncheon, there are books waiting for you at the table. Free books. Gotta love that, right? Madeline Hunter was the keynote speaker for this session and was wonderful.
If you’ve ever been to a conference before, how did you go about networking with other writers?