Personally, this is my favorite part of Nationals and also what I think is the most important aspect, especially for you PRO and PAN members out there who have already spent a considerable amount of time developing and honing your craft, or at least I hope you have if you've reached PRO or PAN status lol.
Now the question some of you may be asking is: why is networking important to me? Chances are, if you're not a published author, or you're not trying desperately to become one, you haven't thought much about it. But networking is an absolute must for everyone. Whether you're a New York Times Bestselling author or you're working on writing your very first manuscript, networking is important to you.
Here are three reasons
1. Friendship--As juvenile as the idea of 'let's go make friends, everyone!' can sound, this is truly something every writer needs. Every writer needs other writers to connect with. Let's face it: family members and friends who aren't writers just don't understand. Who can blame them? We spend hours and hours staring at our computer screens, creating fantasy worlds and talking about the voices in our heads--only another writer can truly understand that. We need a support network. We need support for those times when we're down; when an agent has rejected your full manuscript or a publisher has said no to publishing your novel. We also need other writers to celebrate our joys. Who understands the feeling of getting a full request after someone reads a partial than another writer? Whether close friends, distant friends, critique partners, or what have you, having other writers to commiserate with is a must.
2. Valuable Connections--While some of the connections you make at conferences seem invaluable, you never know when you will need someone's assistance. Who cares if the woman in the elevator is a writer who has never completed a manuscript and lives out in the boonies of Iowa! Stick out your hand, say hello, and introduce yourself! You never know when a connection can become valuable to you. Two years down the line, you may decide to set one of your novels in Iowa, or make your characters travel there, and who better to get inside information from than a resident of the area? That's when you whip out your trusty card holder, look up the writer you met and reach out and make that connection all over again.
3. Future Opportunities--This is of major importance and perhaps the reason I most love networking. You never know what opportunities you will be presented with. Be friendly and outgoing, even if you're not normally that way. Force yourself into it. Because I was being friendly and introducing myself to everyone, I managed to meet three literary agents and two editors (all individually, they weren't traveling in packs lol)--most of which I connected with on the hotel elevator of all places! Now I have an introduction if I choose to query those agents. Now I can connect with those editors if they're ever the ones evaluating my manuscript for publication. Those sorts of industry connections can be invaluable. Connections with other writers can be invaluable in this way as well. You might run across someone's client or be introduced to someone in the industry through your friendship with another writer.
Whether or not you're a veteran publishing your tenth book with a major house, or whether you just started writing, reach out to other conference attendees. You never know what good may come of it.
Don't forget to check back on Wednesday for part two of our RWA Nationals talk! Til then ;-)