How to Put Your Best Foot Forward at Conferences

Navigating conferences can be rather tricky.  I collected five tips to help you get noticed, meet the right people, and make the most of your conference.

When I participated in the Tom Joyner Family Reunion Expo, my author friends asked how I got an invite! The truth is… I’m not really sure. It may have been the flyer I posted on their online community board or one of the connections I made during my book tour.  Either way, I decided to brainstorm on how I could capitalize on this opportunity.

1.     Prepare. Research what went on during prior conferences, find out the vendor table configuration, and what other authors are doing. I’m not real fond of business cards. To me, it’s more effective to have postcard-sized advertisement to hand out. Include your latest work, contact information, and social media information.

2.     Make the most of your visit to a new town. Contact local radio shows in the area and send your media kit and press release. Since I write inspirational fiction, I contacted some of the churches in the area and let them know I would be nearby and would love to give away some free books.  Yes, you must be willing to give something away.  Some of them posted my flyer on their website, while others wished me the best. 

3.     Stand out. Amongst a sea of authors or products, brainstorm how you can stand out. Stage time is key. Contact the organizer and let them know you would love to sit on a panel discussion (for free).  Communicate your expertise and be flexible on what they may ask you to do. 

4.    Step outside your circle. Resist the urge to stick with people you already know. Have dinner with new people, offer advice, assist in any way you can. My philosophy is give unto others and it shall be given unto you.  I once helped my neighbor with setting up his booth. Little did I know, he was a popular author and vlogger who had hundreds of thousands of followers. When he gave me a shout out from his twitter page, that meant all of his followers learned of me and my books.

5.     Strategize your schedule. Map out what sessions you want to attend.  Arrive early so you can grab the attention of the speaker. Don’t forget to exchange cards and let them know how you could assist them.  Maybe they are looking for someone who can take over their social media or respond to emails. Perhaps they need connections on how to have an event in your city. Either way, lead with how you can help them and they in turn will want to return the favor. 

Most importantly, relax and be friendly.  Be conscious of your expressions and the energy you give off.  Jump in there and meet all the people you can at your next conference and you’re sure to be a big success.

-Terri Whitmire