Well, I’m still reeling a bit from the incredible response to my discourse on networking. I’m not accustomed to having a large number of visitors to this site, and suddenly my traffic has jumped from piddling to respectable! Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and also to all of you who linked to the posts. Also, Nancy Fulda has blogged about the other side of the issue, i.e. the response of pros/semi-pros in the industry to struggling newbies. It’s a great post and definitely worth reading.
From comments on this site–
Mark Evans wrote:
Speaking as a con organizer, a good way to meet folks is to offer to be on the program. Sitting on a panel with established writers is a good starting point for conversations. Don’t try to dominate a program item, listen more than you talk, and don’t insist on free con admission or special consideration. Just see if there are any openings you can be slotted into. Contact the concom in advance if you can. And try to stick to topics you know something about.
Dave Klecha wrote:
Oh, and business cards are also a nice touch. Gives people something easy and handy to take with them that has your name, e-mail, and URL on it. They’re obviously not something to hand out like candy at a parade, but when you’re in that position to leave before they get tired of you, it’s a good way of saying, “Hey, let’s talk more on your terms. Here’s my info.”
Sandra Taylor wrote:
One thing that has really helped me a lot is practicing. I practice my conversational skills every time I come into contact with someone. Several months of chatting in grocery store lines, school hallways, or anywhere else you happen to be, ingrains the “making friends” skills so that when you’re finally faced with that editor or agent or author, you can let the skills take over. This is an extension of #7. No one is unimportant, even away from conventions. I’ve had the most fascinating conversations in unexpected places.
Nayad Monroe wrote:
The easiest thing to do when being friendly at conventions is to be prepared with some not-too-invasive questions to ask people, if you’re ever stuck in a conversational pause. Asking about a person’s favorite author, or what they’re working on now (and *not* as an excuse to talk about your own work, btw), is a nice way to show interest in the people around you. Then the way they respond will show you whether they want to talk for a while, or not, and you can go from there.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden wrote:
SF conventions are full of interesting people, most of whom fall on the “fan” side of the (vastly overrated) “fan/pro” divide.
The one thing I would add is: if you live in an area with an annual local con, consider volunteering to help with some of the scutwork. Large karma points are to be had for being a Local Pro who’s happy to stuff envelopes or help set up the art show. And you’ll meet much more interesting people than you’ll encounter in the SFWA suite.
Kent Brewster wrote:
In line with #7: if you happen to be standing in a small circle talking to a person-of-importance and you see someone outside the circle who’s clearly too shy to approach, be the one who opens up the circle and makes the introduction for the new guy.
You will simultaneously win the undying admiration of the guy on the outside and come off to the people already on the inside–including the person-of-importance–as someone who is confident, professional, and generally aware of how social situations like these should go.
And from the Codex forum–
Laurel Amberdine wrote:
My best success at networking was almost accidental. I never mentioned my writing (until asked). I simply read all the GOH’s books and had some compliments and questions.
Tom Pendergrass wrote:
Probably the single greatest key to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. Remember, for most people, their favorite topic of conversation is themselves.
Nora Fleischer wrote:
One thing that helps me, as a shy person, is to have some set parties that I’m going to attend. For example, I did a podcast for Podiobooks.com, so now I know the people over there. If some organization you’re attached to is giving a party, that’s a great place to go. Now you have something to talk about, when you’re there.
It also helps to try to meet extroverts who will introduce me to their friends. I may not be outgoing, but like Tom says, I try to be a good listener– and I always come home with a good story or two. If you go in with the attitude that you’re there to hear about the interesting stuff that other people are doing, you’ll have fun. (For example, I recently heard about how you bribe librarians in Cuba to bring you your research materials.) And, like Diana says, also know when to say bye-bye to these nice people and find some new ones.
The other thing to remember is that being introverted is not a sin. It doesn’t even mean that you are a misanthrope. All it means is that it takes much more energy for you to engage in social events than it does for extroverts. Go ahead and recharge your batteries after a particularly social period– hang out in the dealer’s room, or in your room, or in a panel until you feel better. It’s not a waste of time, it’s what you need.
Spencimus Prime wrote:
Let me add: don’t ask an agent to look at your new query after you’ve already had a pitch session with them. It’s no fun saying no to people’s faces, and I really hate saying it twice.
Again, thanks to everyone who commented, linked, or just stopped by to read. And if you’re going to World Fantasy Con next week and you see me, please say Hi!