By Narelle Atkins
- Dress appropriately. Research the dress code so you’ll feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing at the conference. The dress code at a five star hotel venue may be business or smart casual whereas a country retreat may be more relaxed, for example jeans and a T-shirt.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You don’t want to be experiencing pain while mingling with conference attendees during the breaks.
- Advise the organizers of any special dietary requirements prior to the conference. At meal times, alert the wait staff if you’ve ordered a special meal. If the seating has not been prearranged, the staff will be looking for you.
- Remember your good manners and act like a professional at all the official conference events.
- Many writing conferences have etiquette and rules regarding children. Read the FAQ’s in the conference information that are applicable for you.
- Switch your phone to vibrate or silent at the start of each workshop. Never answer a call during a conference session.
- If you’re a first timer, attend the orientation sessions. Seek out others who are new to the conference. They may become your lifelong writing friends.
- Be friendly. Many writers are introverts and struggle with the social aspects of a conference. Make eye contact, smile and say hello. Most writers want to network and meet other writers at conferences. One of the easiest ice breaker questions is “What do you write?”
- If someone appears to brush you off, don’t take it personally. There are dozens of reasons for why they can’t chat that probably have nothing to do with you.
- If you’re by yourself at a meal, instead of sitting alone you can ask to join another table. Most writers are more than happy to talk writing with whoever is around.
- Sign up to volunteer at the conference. Conferences are often organized by writing groups. Volunteering is a great way to meet people and give back to the organization.
- Respect others. Treat other people the way you’d like to be treated.
- Don’t harass industry professionals. For example, pitching your book to an editor or agent in the bathroom is rude and inappropriate.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. Publisher parties and conference dinners often have liquor flowing freely. Know your limits, and remember you’re attending a work function. Professional courtesy is paramount, and you don’t want to be remembered as the badly behaved author who drank too much.
- Don’t wear fragrances. Be considerate to those who suffer from allergies and leave your perfume at home.
- Thank the organizers. You’ll come across many volunteers who have given their time to make the conference a special event. Take a minute to thank them for their contribution, and let them know they’re doing a fantastic job.
- Complete the post-conference survey. Provide constructive feedback to help the organizers evaluate the success of their event.
I hope my tips are helpful. I’ve also written posts on Writing Conferences: The Benefits for Writers and Author Etiquette 101. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Narelle blogs regularly with International Christian fiction Writers and Inspy Romance. http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/
She is also a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA).
Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins