Thursday, July 27, 2017

Conference Networking IS NOT Just About Selling

Right now, there are a lot of authors in Orlando at the Romance Writers of America conference. This yearly conference is a chance for authors, editors and agents to get together and talk about the business of publishing and romance. It is, unfortunate, however, that many authors are making a huge mistake while at this conference and it all comes down to the concept of networking.

As I said, this conference is about a lot of people getting together and chatting about the business. This is a chance to learn about new projects, hear about great new approaches for writing and so forth. It is all about networking.

Networking is defined as...

to interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career

And yet, what are authors doing, they are trying to sell. They are trying to get people to buy their books and their latest lines. Sure, these writers will say that if they can sell that book to the editors and agents, they are going to advance their careers. But this approach is not building that relationship with the editors and agents.

I recently heard a business specialist on NPR talk about this. He noted that this is a huge mistake most people make when they go to conferences. He noted that at one conference, he asked a ballroom full of attendees, how many people planned on selling something at the conference. 900+ people raised their hands. He then followed up with how many people out there were planning on buying something. The room was silent.

Networking, he noted, was about building relationships with other people in the industry. It was about creating a presence and then demonstrating accountability and trust. Once that was done, THEN the selling could happen.

Yes, I fully get that these larger writing conferences hype up the fact that they have opportunities to pitch stories to editors and agents. RWA cycles editors and agents through a ballroom creating those chances. And yet, I have heard, time and time again from other editors and agents that they are not likely going to find stories there. I have spoke of this here on the blog in the past. This is due to a lot of authors pitching when they were not ready, or simply pitching to the wrong person.

When I attend conferences, I do hope to find some new project, but the real focus is about making those connections. It is about sitting down with editors and other agents to hear about their latest projects and ideas. It is about advancing the business.

So, if you are at the conference now and reading this, rethink what you are doing. If you do sell something, great. BUT if you build a new relationship, you can walk away feeling much more accomplished and successful.

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