This is a very simple post. The Top 8 Conference Etiquette Tips everybody should follow. See, it’s even apost that can apply to any conference–not just the ACFW conference coming up at the end of September! (Are you going to be there?)
Ralene’s Top 8 Conference Etiquette Tips (in reverse order because I save the best for last!):
8. Star Struck!
One of the great things about almost any conference is that there is bound to be somebody important there. I remember walking into the hotel for my first ACFW conference, and who was standing RIGHT THERE? Brandilyn. Collins. O.M.W! Yeah. So what does any self-respecting, aspiring writer do? Go ga-ga of course! I rushed up to her, screaming like a twelve-year-old girl. I think she understood what I was trying to say as I shrieked my admiration of her. Really. It only took two secruity guards to haul me away…definitely not a record.
7. A Dab Here, A Dab There
Over the course of four days or so, we’re all going to be crammed into rooms together–whether it’s 30 people in a workshop or 600 in the mess hall, there’s a lot of bodies. So, it’s bound to be a bit warm at times. How do we prevent the distasteful issue of body oder? With perfume and deodarant! Duh! Now, this has to last ALL day. From your seven o’clock breakfast to your late night chats. All. Day. Please de-oderize appropriately. I want flowers, people! (Fruity smells make me hungry.)
6. The Perfect Roommate
These are the traits of a fantastic roommate. Make your room your home–set your stuff on the desk, fill the closet with your clothes, spread your stuff all over the bathroom counter. Mutual respect comes with middle of the night phone calls and computer time (even though the other roommate[s] have turned out their lights). Of course, in line with #7, you don’t want to smell, so make sure you get your hour in the bathroom–that’s one hour at night and one in the morning. Last, but not least, you want to talk up your roommate to the people you meet–be sure to include fun tidbits like how loud they snore or the fact that they wear a retainer…oh, and if they have some dirty little secret, EVEN BETTER!
5. The Job Interview
One of the perks of several writing conferences is the opportunity to meet one-on-one with an editor or agent to pitch your writing. Let me give you one piece of advice. Be yourself. There’s no need to practice some crazy pitch or prepare a one sheet or polish your first couple of chapters. If you over-prepare, you’ll psych yourself out–and no one wants you to be staring at them for fifteen minutes. Seriously. Unless, maybe your novel is about a deaf mute who can only communicate through visual telekinesis. Yep. Then you’re good.
Workshops are a great opportunity to learn from a professional in the industry. Even though they may be an expert, it doesn’t mean they know everything. If they misspeak or deliver some false information–by all means, let them know immediately! Also, they know that we’re not there JUST to see them, so they’ll understand if you have to get up several times throughout their seminar. That means, if you know you have to leave for an appointment or for volunteer time, you can still sit in the front row. Oh, and all those normal annoying activities–pen-clicking, sniffling loudly, etc–don’t get on anyone’s nerves.
3. Hello? Can You Hear Me Now?
We all have a life beyond writing–at least we should (if you don’t, go get one now!). Our phones are a way to stay connected, even when we’re away from our lives for something like a conference. From surfing the net, to being social, to checking on the kids–our phones are our lifelines, and they are important! Make sure to keep your phones with you at all times. Answer it whenever you need to–in the middle of a workshop, during an appointment–we all understand. And hello, the ringers are almost a necessity! You can’t really be expected to “hear” a vibrating phone, right?
2. Make the Most of Your Time
Any conference is only so many days, and only so many hours are available during that time to get to know people, make connections, and create a good impression. But no one will know who you are if you don’t put yourself out there. One thing agents/editors look for, in new writers especially, is platform. So what better place to network than at conferences. And, oh the opportunities! Mealtimes-always set at a table full of new people (if they’re business professionals, even better!), introduce yourself, and then tell them everything about yourself, your background, and your writing. This is YOUR time to shine. Now that’s an obvious choice–but what about the bathroom? Yeah! I mean, everyone has to visit the restroom at some point, right? They won’t be surrounded by other people hogging all the attention. Perfect! Other not-to-be-missed opportunities include: when they first arrive or right before they leave, late night or early morning (stop by their room), and right when they get off the phone.
Everybody loves a good laugh. From jokes to pranks, there’s no harm in brightening someone’s day. So, don’t be afraid to stand up in the middle of the guest speaker and yell, “Fire!”. I dare ya. Oh, and I found a ringtone that sounds just like a tornado siren. hehehe…
In all seriousness, of course, the opposite of most of these rules actually apply. Respect those around you and their time. From the people who devote their time to teaching to those who offer their services, to your roommates and those you share meals with. You may be fighting the pack to come out on top, but you’ll see a better response from others when you are humble, charitable, gracious, and friendly.