I love attending conferences every year that celebrate my love for reading. I especially enjoy attending author conferences because I make so many great connections. I have met some amazing women that I now consider friends from attending book conferences.

As you may have read in our recent newsletter, we asked a couple of authors to share their wisdom about how to make the most out of author conferences. I wanted to take a few moments and share my thoughts on when you attend a book or author conference. Overall, I would say that my advice is “quality not quantity.” Don’t go for the shotgun approach of meeting people. Develop a plan to maximize your experience.

Take care of yourself

Conference venues can often be cold, but in other places, you might get too warm! I recommend dressing in layers so that you can change your attire easily based on the air temperature at the moment.

Also, wear comfortable shoes. These conferences always involve a lot of walking, even if you spend most of your day in sessions. Another way to take care of yourself is to make sure you bring hand sanitizer (and use it!).

This may not sound like a “self-care” item, but I assure you it will help you feel better! It’s important to remember to smile at these events and try to be open and friendly. I know for introverts that can be tough but remember, you’re among people who are very similar to you! Keeping an open mind and friendly demeanor will make it easier to connect with like-minded people.

Prepare ahead of time

This goes beyond just knowing when and where you need to be. If you’re a blogger, you need to determine your goals for the conference including who you want to interview and what kind of information fits your blog.

Not all interactions will be instant connections, and that is ok.

Research the authors and speakers who will be at the conference and seek out those who best fit your audience and interest. I use a cheat sheet to remind me of who I want to meet and what interview questions I want to ask. That helps me stay on track and stay organized.

When I interview people, I like to ask specific questions about their bio and books so you will want to be somewhat familiar with that information ahead of time so that you can ask personalized questions. I also always ask authors for advice on who to meet at the conference or any advice they might have for my More Than A Review audience.

From a professional standpoint, whether you’re an author selling books or a blogger promoting the conference, you need to make sure you have plenty of business cards and have your “elevator speech” planned so you can quickly introduce yourself. This is especially helpful for introverts who might not feel comfortable making small talk right away. Also, make sure you share about the event ahead of time on social media, especially if you will be doing any kind of live streaming. You want people to pay attention!

Once you’re at the event

Once you’re at the conference, seek out the authors you would like to meet and schedule a short interview with them (if you didn’t get a chance to contact them ahead of time). If you feel like it’s a good mutual connection, you might even find that you can do an interview or later blog on each other’s sites, or that you could collaborate on a book or blog hop once the conference is over. But be aware that not everyone will be an instant connection, and that’s OK!

Be aware of the schedule and make sure you block time to attend sessions. You’re there to meet authors, but also to learn! This is a great time to learn something new either for your personal or professional benefit.

Well, those are my biggest tips. What tips do you have that might help others in the community?