Card Exchange Opportunities
One of the great benefits of attending a conference is the opportunity to form new relationships. Normally I sit in my office and quietly work on different writing and editorial projects. At a conference, I’m away from my phone and in a completely different environment with the chance to interact with new people, hear their experiences and learn from them. I tend to pick up a lot of information in these short interactions. Last week, for example, I met another speaker at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop where I had recently sold two magazine articles. This editor told me about the massive changes in their magazine (not a good sign if you ever hear these words and you can almost anticipate what is coming next). Then she said the special issue was potentially going to get pulled and not printed—and she quickly reassured me that I would be paid for the writing. This bit of information is just a glimpse at what you can learn through face to face interaction—even with someone you have never met. I’ve learned the importance of exchanging business cards at these conferences. Some times you don’t get a card from the other person and in that case it is a one sided transfer.
Most writers and editors have a quiet and introvert personality (and I include myself in this category most of the time). For some of you, the thought of creating a business card and exchanging it might be threatening. If you are going to a conference, please get over it and create a business card to exchange. As you exchange information, it gives you an opportunity to follow-up or at least know how to reach a particular person.
At these conferences, it always surprises me when someone does not have a business card to exchange. It happens frequently and the person apologizes and promises to send me their information when they get home (and it rarely happens). If you are going to invest in a conference in terms of your money and time, do make the effort to create a business card and have it readily available to exchange. Don’t be caught unprepared.
Here’s the other irony when you exchange business cards: Some people don’t include enough information on their business card. At the Bombeck Workshop, I exchanged cards with another speaker. Her full-color business card was beautiful and included her photo but didn’t have any specific contact information. I’ve learned the hard way to glance at the card and see what information it contains. If I don’t read the card, then to my chagrin I get back to my room or home and don’t have the specific contact information. This author claimed her contact information was on the card. The only bit of information was her website address. She explained at the website you could find all of her contact information—and she was insistent about this detail. Later that night, I went to her website and looked at her contact information (an email address). For whatever reason (unclear to me), this person was controlling who reached her after the conference. Especially since I’m an acquisitions editor and collect information, I thought the lack of exchange was interesting.
I have created different business cards for different settings. At my workshop in particular, I passed out a card to each person attending. You never know how they will use it. Maybe they didn’t purchase Book Proposals That Sell at my workshop (even if I gave each one a great opportunity). At a later time, they may make a decision. I’ve made certain my business card contains the information they will need to make such a decision. Also the information gives them a mailing address and email means to easily reach me.
Don’t miss those opportunities at a conference to exchange information. You never know when the information might come in handy.