Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Importance of Networking?

Sarah Frances and I are about to fly to Los Angeles for our second annual SCBWI conference. In fact, just today I had to buy a new LARGE suitcase because the airlines have changed their luggage policy to allow one suitcase (that you have to pay to take?!). I am a two to three suitcase kind of girl. How do you fit all your shoes in one? Anyway, I digress. So last year we were told that we really needed to *network* and *meet as many people as you can.* We even received a document from SCBWI giving advice as to how to effectively network.

Therefore, we were not surprised (although horrified) when we got on the elevator the first day in LA, and a woman shouted out to the entire packed elevator that her name was Nellie McNetwork, and she had a fascinating blog. She then whipped out several hundred business cards and forced them into the hands of everyone between floors one and four. All of this, while wearing a glittery costume resembling the kind of gaudy pageant attire commonly seen on Circus of the Stars. Talk about a nervous breakdown. We got off the elevator and SF said, "Dang! Are we supposed to do that?" And I replied, ''What the heck was that? I'm not doing that." To which SF brilliantly replied, "Whew! It's a good thing we don't have one of those blog things."

That single event however, caused us to rethink our networking strategy. Our mantra became, "We must not fade into the background. We must get noticed!" Too bad we left all of our sequined tube tops back home in Mississippi. Not to worry though. We stormed into the conference the next day and became the newly formed Name Tag Nazis. As luck would have it, the "Faculty," otherwise known as "important people with whom to network," all had purple stripes on their name tags... which made them easy to find (if you were comfortable walking around only staring at people's chests). I went with the flow staring down chests until I felt like a complete creepster. Things went from bad to worse as I eventually got up the nerve to *network* with two GIANT editors (giant in fame, not size) in order for them to remember me. As you can imagine, they were rather put off by my timing and stupid comments and the only remembering that happened was them remembering not to get coffee if I was nearby. After the second of these unfortunate incidents, which ended with the editor literally pushing another button on the elevator and getting off several floors before his intended stop, I had a full blown panic attack, which led me to skip all the classes that day and go to the gym, (btw, it is AMAZING!).

A little more than an hour later, I had shed my mantra and embraced a new one, namely "networking is for the birds." The new plan involved just going to the workshops and simply meeting whomever I sat next to. SF had come to this conclusion on her own after watching me humiliate myself. And guess what? The rest of the conference was awesome! And we DID meet quite a few people, some of whom we still keep up with and will see again in two weeks :-)

So don't stress people! Forget networking. Just listen to the excellent speakers and if you feel like it, chat up your neighbor. Who knows? Maybe we'll sit next to ya.


Hardygirl said...

Great advice Katie!

I literally saw smoke coming off Arthur Levine's heels at last year's conference when Katie stalked, I mean, approached him on the escalator.

Most editors meet so many people at these conferences that they don't remember anyone anyway, so predatory tactics are pointless. We had a great time when we finally relaxed into the groove, sat by the pool, and waited for people to come and join us (which they did).

Katie said...

Oh good gracious! I did NOT stalk him :-) Just mentioned that he was funny....and he should be my new best friend. ha! ha! (just kiddin'!)

TAA said...

Love, love, love it. I can't wait to hear your L.A. stories. Girls, this does mean you may have to take your macs poolside so we can all get the low down about the conference scene and who Katie is stalking.
I suggest big hats, tall drinks and bikinis - screw the Circus of the Stars lady, you gals will have the editors lined up! TAA

Lindsey said...

Have fun girls! Wear the red shoes. Red attracts editors :)

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Laini Taylor said...

Oh yeah, good advice -- that kind of aggressive networking is so NOT the way to do things! BUT I have to add that if not for a conversation with a wonderful editor at that conference a few years ago, I would surely not have finished my book -- she let me send her early chapters, and she liked them, and asked for more. That right there was the starting point of my road to publication. Call it gentle networking!

I'm really sad not to be going to LA this year! It'll be my first time not to go in four or five years. Wah! Have a ton of fun, and post photos!

Jeannie said...

You are two colorful and talented authors whose blog should reflect your artistry. It does! Bravo! I will be looking forward to reading about your upcoming trip to LA and seeing how having one writer's conference under your belts helped you navigate number two! Jeannie

Katie said...

Okay...wear red and "gently network."
got it.

Laini, we will miss you and all of your wise advice. And you may not remember it, but I sat next to you and your cute hubby on the last day :-) Which led me to your blog... and all of YOUR great posts!!

So thanks!!

Disco Mermaids said...

I have a feeling your conference experience this year will be filled with lots more FUN! Can't wait to meet ya!


barbara said...

SF and Katie -- You've made my morning! Not only do I share your dreams, but the thought of having fun and adult conversations with creative women (or men!!) makes a Monday seem downright attractive! I have a couple of links I want to look up to share with you. Any connections I have in the field are ancient, but, hey -- they were connections at one point!

e said...

LOL!! Love your kick-off post gals! I had so much fun hanging with you guys in LA last year, sorry to miss you this time around, but good to see you in the blogosphere.
(And gads, I hope that wasn't me in the elevator - I don't think I own anything with sequins . . . )

SF and Katie said...
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SF and Katie said...

Barbara and Jeannie, Thanks so much for your kind words!

Lindsey, great to hear from ya! and best of luck with all your books!!!

TAA, Thanks for the advice and be sure to check back in and look at our post conference pics :-)

Robin, We can't wait to meet you too! and you might wanna read our next post...cuz you just might be mentioned :-)

Just sayin'

E! We are gonna miss our pre-game breakfasts with you!!! But we'll be in touch. Love ya!


Anonymous said...

What a cool blog....I can honestly say that's the first blog I have ever visited. Take some sweet tea out there for good luck....that will make a friend out of any of would a veggie plate from Ajax.......or breakfast from BBB.....or a snowcone from Snowbiz.....or the chicken at zaxby's. There is so much good food in Oxford!!! Oh - sorry, got distracted....good luck and have fun.


Colorado Writer said...

Can't wait to meet you in LA!!!

Katie said...


You are too cute! You're right! I should pack some food. Although it might be hard to pack fried dill pickles. But I have already made sure that Starbucks knows how to make my tea :-)

Colorado Writer,

See ya soon! Only another week or so! Woo Hoo!

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