Surviving RWA 11

21 Jun

Next week RWA is having it’s yearly national conference in NYC. I’m excited for a heck of a lot of reasons (travel, friends, bright lights/big city, stalking local celbrities… ignore that last one)

But, as I get ready for all this excitement, there’s a couple lists I need to glance over to get ready and not forget anything.

List One: The Packing List (odds and ends)
Everyone knows they have to pack clothes and shoes, but what about things you might forget?

  • Band-aids
  • Safety Pins
  • double-sided Tap
  • Ibprofen
  • Breakfast Bars/Snack
  • Gum/Mints
  • Trash bag for dirty clothes
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Sunglasses
Not a bad start. But, have you considered what you’ll carry everyday?

Personally, I don’t use the conference tote. My first year at RWA someone grabbed mine by accident and it took a few hours to get my bag (not to mention wallet and cellphone) back.

If you’re going to carry the tote, it doesn’t hurt to bring something visible to attach to it… Something big enough so you can spot it easily. A great suggestion is to tie a small scarf around one handle. Or a bright luggage tag or ribbon.

But, what about what you put in your tote? This list looks long, but in truth, most of these things fit in little pockets if you carry your own bag. If not, bring a small makeup bag to throw a bunch of stuff in so it’s not floating around the bottom of your bag.

List Two: Your Tote. Trust me, with a little makeup bag or ziploc, this fits in easily.

  •  A sweater or wrap — it gets really cold or hot in there. Layers are your friend.
  •  A bottle of water – something you can refill easily
  • Chap stick – it’s dry
  •  Hand lotion – yeah, it’s dry
  • Eye drops if you get dry eyes…. did I mention it gets dry in there?
  • Notebook
  • Pens
  • Pens you don’t mind giving away as someone nearby will always ask if anyone has a pen
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Snack
  • Gum or Mints
  • Travel size deodorant – um, yeah. seriously.
  • Your pitch cards
  • Business cards
  • Your best friends cards – yes, i hand out more cards of other people than of my own
  • RWA workshop guide thingy 🙂

So, you’re there and things are all ready to go…but now what?

My first year going to nationals, I knew ONE person. Yes. One. I vaguely knew a couple of well-known writers from my home chapter, but of course you’re not going to be like, “Hello Famous Author. I don’t know anyone else, so can I tag along with you all week?”

Ok, you might. But I highly recommend not doing that.

There will be tons of people there alone. You’d be surprised. Last year I was early to meet a friend. One of the couch areas had three woman, all of them sitting alone. I sat down in the middle and introduced myself and then introduced them to one another. They were a ball. I got to have a meal with them later in the week… where I found out they were already sharing baby pictures, exchanging emails, and planning on trading pages when they got home.

BTW, I totally met one of my lifer bffs at a RWA conference.

Don’t be afraid. If someone else is alone, they’ll just be happy someone  is talking to them. If you don’t hit it off, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “It was great meeting you. I’ll keep an eye at for you this week.” And then it will be great to bump into someone you now know.

Also, I know you don’t want to miss anything… but get some sleep… even if it’s during a workshop 😉

Take advantage of the meals. They’re “free” (in a I-already-paid-for-them-anyway way) and they’re a great place to plop down with more people to get to know.

Don’t take it personally if the people on both sides of you are turned to talk to someone else. Remember, you could meet your next best friend and only get to see her once a year… at your NEXT nationals 😉

Do pre-plot out the workshops that are a must. Make sure you mark which ones aren’t being recorded. Most of them are, so if you miss something, you can always catch up later. And sometimes, getting to network is better than sitting in a class. Sometimes.

Do ENJOY YOURSELF – Yes, this is business. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in front of your boss (which is 100% of the time since you’re your boss) – but, it’s also a place to kickback and enjoy yourself while getting to know other writers. Don’t let yourself get so uptight that it flies by in a fit of anxiety.

Do trade cards… and write on the back who the person was. I write something to make me remember, maybe a descriptor and why we traded cards. Was it just a friendly chat, was it something one of us was going to follow-up on?

Do stay in touch! People always think other people don’t want to hear from them… but you do, right? So reach out and say hi. 99% of the time the other person will appreciate it.

Have a wonderful time…and if this is your first nationals, maybe I’ll be at that table you come sit at!

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