It’s that time once again for me to join 2000 other romance writers at the annual conference of Romance Writers of America. This year, it will be in beautiful Atlanta.
Every year, the conference is a whirlwind of parties, workshops, and very little sleep. It can be overwhelming to an introvert but it doesn’t have to be. As an introvert, I know the temptation to hide in your hotel room at times is huge, especially when dealing with all those faces. For me, it’s not the number of people that bother as much as the number of STRANGERS.
Personally, I’ve never known what to say to folks. While it’s tempting to go into wallflower mode in the throngs of thousands, I’ve learned it’s not a good idea. We go to conferences to learn, to make connections, and to get noticed.
So how does the average introvert thrive at a conference teeming with thousands of romance writers? Well, here are my top five tricks.
1. Wear unique jewelry. It’s a conversation starter. People will ask you about it and boom, instant topic of conversation. Suddenly, she’s asking your name and you hers and the conversation blooms from there.
2. Go for the shoes. I’d never been big on shoes; however, I’m not very big in general. So I discovered the more unique the shoes, the more people will notice them and stop to chat about them. And over the past four years, my shoes have gotten wilder and taller. When I wear my heels, I’m almost average height. 🙂
3. Volunteer. As an introvert, I need a reason to talk to strangers. I discovered if I volunteered for something like the registration desk or the Literacy Signing I had a purpose, that took all the stress out of talking to people. Plus, by volunteering you could win a conference registration fee, meet your favorite authors, or even get noticed by your dream agent.
4. If you see someone sitting alone and looking lost, offer to have them join you. I’ve made multiple friends by simply looking around the room during the luncheons. If someone is sitting at a big empty table, chances are, she’s new too. It’s tempting to stay silent, but if you don’t want to be the lone person at a table for 8, don’t let anyone else be that person either.
5. Don’t be afraid to laugh…at yourself. Out of two thousand people, it’s a safe bet that someone’s going to trip, drop their books, spill a drink or arrive at a workshop late only to have the doors screech loudly announcing your entrance to the entire room. It happens. Smile and go with it.
If you’re going to #RWA13, look me up. You can’t miss me. I’ll be wearing a purple LaLaLa pin, pink lanyard, and heels that elevate me to a whopping 5’5.5″ tall. 🙂