Friday, May 13, 2022

Tips to Make Valuable Connections at Your Next Writing Conference

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

If the past couple of years taught us anything, it was how to Zoom. 

Meeting together online became normal for a huge part of our population and the writing conference landscape has radically changed because of that. First, because there was no other option. If we wanted to offer a writing conference or attend a writing conference, online was our only option. While we lamented the fact that we couldn’t be together—in person—we also discovered the ease and money-saving value an online conference can offer. 

Enter 2022.

This year more and more conferences are back to in-person events. But our in-person skills may be a little rusty. So here are my thoughts on preparing for an in-person writing conference—post-pandemic style.

Before the Conference

1. Cover your attendance in prayer. Anytime we take a step of faith and follow God’s leading we can expect push back from the enemy. It’s critical that we cover our plans with prayer. Here are some things I pray:
  • Prayers for protections
  • Prayers for a listening ear to the nudging of the Holy Spirit 
  • Prayers asking God to open the doors He wants me to walk through and close the ones that He doesn’t plan for me
  • Prayers for those planning, teaching and organizing the event
  • Prayers for technology to work—in my home and everywhere else

2. Do your homework. Every conference has a website. Study it. Learn who is coming and what their specialties are. Look at the class offerings. Discover whether or not they have social media accounts—follow them. Do they have a conference blog or an online group? If so subscribe and/or join. Learn everything you can beforehand and you’ll get so much more out of the event once you’re on site.

3. Read the fine print. And under the thought of doing your homework . . . Many conferences offer contests, opportunities for critiques and even mentoring. But each of these opportunities comes with an end date. Mark those dates on your calendar so you don’t miss out. Beyond that, notice how long you’ll have access to the classes and recordings. Don’t let time slip by without taking advantage of these valuable resources.

4. Follow faculty. When you see who’s teaching, investigate them further. If they’re an agent or a publisher, visit their business website. Follow the social media attached to that business. If it’s another kind of industry professional, do the same thing. You can find out all kinds of valuable information with just a little effort. 

NOTE: Do not stalk a faculty member. Sending a friend request or following on social media is fine. Private messaging them steps over a line. 

5. Prepare Your Own Material. Begin early and make sure you have up-to-date information on your website. Reorder or order business cards. (Here’s a post on Business Cards For Writers). Polish your one sheet or proposal if you’re pitching. 

At the Conference

1. Sign up for appointments with faculty. Many conferences provide the opportunity to meet privately with faculty. Take advantage of this. At our Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference we have signups on site. Some conferences offer them early. Do your homework and sign up when they’re available.

2. Make the effort to make connections. For those of us who are introverts this can be tough. But if we begin with simple questions, the connections flow more naturally. I like to ask, “What do you write?” This question takes the focus off me and allows the other person to share about themselves.

3. Keep your business cards handy and give them to people. Don’t just focus on exchanging cares with people higher up on the food chain. Some of your most valuable connections will come from fellow attendees. (Here's a great post on Organizing Business Cards for Marketing)

4. Connect with the people you meet online. As soon after as is possible, look the people you meet up on social media. Follow and friend them. This helps you by adding to your connections and making sure you’re following the “right” person online. It also helps them because you’re fresh on his or her mind and they’re more likely to reciprocate.

5. Take plenty of pictures. I have never—in almost a quarter of a century—regretting taking pictures with others at a conference. I have always regretted NOT taking them.

6. Post the pictures & tag those in them. Go the next step and don’t be a picture hoarder. LOL. Instead, post them on social media and tag the other people in the picture. This is a great way to cement connections. 

After the Conference

1. Rest. You are going to be exhausted—mentally and physically. Give yourself time to recover before you jump in. Also realize that Post-Conference Blues are a real thing. It’s only natural to feel down after an event. Watch and plan for this and you won’t be derailed by the emotional fall-out. 

2. Follow up with new contacts. When you connect with someone—fellow attendee or faculty—be sure to follow up after the event is over. Solidify the connection through social media or through email (if an email address has been provided). 

3. Follow up with what was requested. Less than 30%. That’s the percentage agents and editors see after requesting material at a writing conference. So often we return home and decide not to send something that was requested. Don’t be that person. 

4. Edit the work before you send in what was requested. Yes, send it in. But realize the editors and agents aren’t watching their inboxes and waiting for your manuscript. They expect you to take time to apply what you learned at the conference. 

5. Re-listen/watch to the workshops that fit your needs. As you’re attending, make a separate list of specific workshops you’d like to listen to again. I’ve found that if I don’t, but the time the conference is over, I’ve forgotten the specifics of which ones I’d wanted to delve into deeper. 

Now it’s your turn, what tips would you add to my list and what do you think about online conferences?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Featured Image: Photo by Jodie Walton on Unsplash


  1. I absolutely love writing conferences. I love meeting people and reconnecting with friends I haven't seen in a while. I get so excited about conferences. I put on a smile and try to greet everyone. :-) I enjoy online conferences, too. There are times when online works better for me.

  2. Thank you for these tips, Edie! I'm looking forward to getting back to one or two conferences in 2022, and I love your advice about making connections. "What do you write?" is a great opener. Best wishes for a wonderful conference this year!

  3. i make a short note on the business cards I am given as to who they were, what we talked about, things to note. This comes in handy when I get home. You think you will remember each person, but you won't!

  4. I LOVE these great tips!!! Great info here!! I love going back over my notes fairly soon after returning from a conference. Sometimes, a speaker will either make a suggestion I want to follow up on or they'll say something that gives me an idea I want to act on upon returning and I'll jot that down in the notes. If I don't read back over my notes soon after I return, I forget those things I wanted to do!!

  5. Thank you for these helpful tips! Can't wait to meet the conference attendees and faculty at this year's conference.

  6. Great ideas Edie, thank you! On the way home from a conference I write the top 10 things I learned, using the course scheduler as a reminder. This helps me to organize what I want to further work on or retain because there is so much incredible information. Looking forward to my first BRMCW Conference!