Monday, November 4, 2019

Making Connections by Brenda

Bouchercon has just concluded. Networking is a vital component of our business, never more so than at a conference. How do you approach it?

The first book conference I attended was called Bloody Words, at that time Canada’s national conference) and it was being held in my home city Ottawa. I had my first middle grade book mystery in the publication queue but was entirely new to the book business. I was conflicted about going to this event where I knew nobody … or so I thought … until I met two other women from my circle of acquaintances who invited me to join them to sit in on panels and the banquet.  All my worries about not fitting in did not come to pass.

Since then, I've been to many more Bloody Words (now defunct), several Bouchercons and Left Coast Crimes and one Murder in Muncie. I've never had a bad experience because the attendees at these conferences, both readers and those in the business, have always been friendly and open to chatting with strangers. I've also been fortunate to be one of the Canadian contingent. Although we're usually small in numbers at the American conferences, we gather for meals with newly made friends always welcome. My fellow Canadian authors have generously introduced me to other authors, reviewers and publishers, something I return whenever I can.
Cleveland Bouchercon with some of the Canadian contingent - me, Anthony Bidulka, R.J. Harlick, Mary Jane Maffini & Linda Wiken

Signing up for a panel or reading or even sitting at the Crime Writers of Canada desk for a time slot or two is a great way to network. It's a good idea to have a bookmark with contact information or a business card to hand out after making a connection. The same people tend to go to many of the conferences and staying in touch through Facebook or Twitter keeps relationships going and can provide opportunities for cross-promotion.

Monterey Left Coast Crime panel with Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny, me &  Kathy Bennett

It's also a good idea to arrange to meet up before arriving at the conference since once activities get rolling, free time becomes limited. In the case of Left Coast Crime in Vancouver this past spring, some of the gang from 7 Criminal Minds prearranged to meet up for a photo with many of us going for lunch afterwards.

Susan, Terry, Jim, Cathy, me, Catriona &  Danny

Over all, my networking approach is to take every opportunity to meet new people and to socialize -- particularly in the bar, which as anyone who goes to these events knows, is the hub of the networking machine. I've also gone on some group excursions, which is a great way to meet readers and to see new parts of the country.

Monterey Left Coast Crime - on the bus sightseeing tour driving up the Big Sur

All in all, book conferences have allowed me to see some fabulous cities that I never would have visited and been a vehicle to meet many interesting readers and authors, a lot of whom I'm still in contact with. I look forward to the next conference where we can reconnect although I haven't signed up for any at this point in time.

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Dietrich Kalteis said...

You're right, Brenda, a great place to connect with readers, writers and anybody else in the business.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich - Conferences are one of the best ways to connect for sure. I wish I could go to more!

Susan C Shea said...

Canadians have two audiences to please, I think. Good at least that we Americans have also crossed the border into beautiful Canada a few time recently for big crime conventions. And it's so true: Published authors may not attend a lot of panels that are really aimed at readers, but we spend the bulk of the time catching up with each other - really important and soul-nourishing.