Attending a conference or convention, if you do it right, is both highly fruitful and a ton of hard work. When you put in the effort you’re likely to have at least one or two of the following benefits and maybe more.
I just returned from the four-day Netroots Nation Conference in Philadelphia. Although I went as COO of Democracy Counts, I’m way too much of a writer not to be aware of how a conference or convention can benefit those of us who are freelance writers. Netroots is a progressive political organization but it doesn’t really matter what kind of conference or convention you’re attending. Here’s what I mean.
A conference or convention can lead to one or more assigned articles
Once you know you’re scheduled for some sort of meeting – regional, national, international or even city-wide – ask yourself who would benefit from an article about that meeting. That answer can range all over the place, from small-town local newspaper to big international magazines. Don’t overlook industry trade magazines.
Put together a list of likely suspects and using email, see if you can’t get an assignment to provide coverage either of the meeting as a whole, or some, narrow, well-focused portion of it. Contact them, letting them know you’ll be there and would like to write for them. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover you can make back some if not all your expenses, plus get a nice byline.
Try one or more articles on spec
Again, you may find you can get paid for writing after the conference or convention. It’s worth a shot.
Meet a ton of new potential clients
One of the best things from a writer’s point of view about a conference or convention is that like minded people are gathered in one place. If your specialty is left-handed widgets, a conference on the same will put you in touch with the major players in left-handed widgetry, lined up and ready for you to meet and interact with.
Bring plenty of business cards and if you don’t see someone you know, just walk up to someone and say ‘hello.’ Chances are you’ll be talking with someone whom you can help or can help you… or both, or who knows someone, etc. etc. etc.
Meet many new sources
In much the same way, a conference or convention is the ideal place to meet potential sources in your favorite field. Some will be able to give you missing information, others introduce you to folks who may need your services. You simply never know.
Again, this is not a place to be shy, but to practice being charming and open to new people… okay, maybe not charming, but at least open. Remember everyone loves to be listened to and most also want to help. All they need is a question or two to get them started.
With these tips in mind attending a conference or convention is a real career builder. And a whole lot of fun too. Remember, even writers are allowed, even encouraged, at least b me, to have fun.
Write well and often,