Networking events, at conferences or otherwise, are some of the most difficult things any professional attends. They are often a little bit forced, a lot awkward, and whole lot intimidating. But they don’t have to be. Networking events, if you prepare for them, can be fun, entertaining, inspiring, and give you a foot in the door. The key is in the preparation.
Having a list of questions on hand, other than what’s your major, can go a long way in making you feel ready and confident about your approach.
Here are five to get you started.
How did you become an agent/writer/editor? People love talking about themselves and this is an easy way to get the conversation flowing. It will also likely lead to other things. Most importantly though, you might actually learn something you didn’t know about the business.
What are you reading right now? You’re in a group of people who love to read. So do you. Ask people what they’re reading and you have the opportunity to learn a lot about them. It’s also a great segue into what you are writing which works if you’re talking to a fellow writer, but also works if you’re talking to an agent and want to pitch without, well, pitching.
What’s your biggest challenge as a writer/editor/agent? Again, by opening up the conversation to someone’s career you can learn a lot about them and maybe, just maybe, you have or can be the answer to their problem. I might say, for example, I am struggling to find a way to add more nonfiction to the BookEnds list. If you happen to be a nonfiction editor looking for a job well, look at that.
What’s your dream? This is a big question but imagine the possibilities. Wouldn’t you love to tell people your dreams of being published or working for a Big 5 publisher? I think this is a fun question with a lively answer.
If you weren’t in publishing/writing what would you do? I think this can be so telling. If the person you are talking to has a passion for restaurants you can bet that books with cooks and restaurants would be at the top of her reading pile.