Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Baker's Dozen of Conference Tips For Your Travel Day...

13 cookies make a baker's dozen!

To get the most out of your 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference Experience, consider these tips...

1.  When you get it, take the time to read your conference packet.  Don't wait till you're home, because you may miss something great!

2.  First time at the conference?  Attend Jolie Stekly's Friday Morning New Attendees Orientation in Olympic I at 7:45am.  Jolie's a member of Team Blog, a former Regional Advisor, and SCBWI's 2009 Member of the Year.  She knows her stuff, and will help smooth your conference path! 
Here's one gem she's shared at past orientations:
If you're able to be yourself, then you have no competition. So don't feel as though you're in a competition with the people next to you. The SCBWI is a supportive tribe (with more than 22,000 members worldwide).

3.  Challenge yourself to attend one session that's outside your current focus (a plot talk if you're an illustrator, or a session on picture books if you write YA.)  Creativity sparks in mysterious ways.

4.  Don't just attend keynotes and workshops and then retreat to your room.  Hang out in the lobby bar and by the outside tables - even if you don't drink. Talk to your fellow writers and illustrators...  Lots of magical connections and moments happen this way.  Leave yourself open to that magic!

5.  Keep your nametag on.  Even at dinner, or drinks afterwards (see tip #4.)  Your conference name tag helps others know you're part of the tribe, and helps them remember your name, too.  You can even stash some of your own business cards in the back so they're handy.

6. Speaking of business cards, when you get one, or that evening, jot a quick note to yourself about who the person was and what you discussed.  It's not so much for your biographers, but there will be over 1,000 other attendees... and in a couple of months (or years), it will be remarkably useful to have something brief to jog your memory.

7.  Take care of yourself.  If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to take a break.  Chat with a fellow conference-goer by the pool.  Sketch.  Outline that new picture-book idea.  Visit the conference attendee hospitality rooms -  Bel-Air and Malibu (on the California Level) - to recharge and have a snack in a quiet place.  Remember that this is YOUR conference, your time, and you get to make it your own.

8.  Do your homework.  Particularly excited to meet a certain faculty member?  Read a couple of their books first (that they wrote, or illustrated, or agented, or edited), and you'll have something to talk about, and maybe questions to ask to make it a great discussion.

9.  If you're on twitter, tweet conference moments/quotes/shoutouts with the hashtag:


Even if you're not on twitter, you can follow along at this twitter search.

10.  When tweeting or blogging the conference, remember our Team Blog guidelines...  A taste but not a transcript.  It is not respectful to the presenters to share their material in its entirety, so let's all be respectful.

11.  Don't be afraid to go up and speak to someone - they're people, too! 

12.  Be able to answer the question, "What are you working on?" 

13.  Be professional ...and have an amazing time!

These tips were collected from previous Conference tip posts by Lee Wind, Jane Makuch and Jolie Stekly, as well as commenters including Beth Stilborn.  The cookie image is from this place in Atlanta.  Looks yummy!

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