Conference Tips, Bradley Cooper, & Daggers

Song of the day: Savior by Rise Against

Here is a quick list of do’s and don’ts and a bit about conference etiquette. Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we?


Do bring a camera. Don’t just bring it, take it with you everywhere. You never know when you’ll want to snap a picture. Great photo ops will constantly arise. Besides, what if on your way to a workshop you happen upon Bradley Cooper in the hotel lobby? Who’ll believe you without the evidence?

Do pack light. Let’s face it, we’re women. We have clothes for every situation. Not only that, the time of day for which that situation happens makes a difference to what we wear, too. Add to that all the salon products we use to make ourselves acceptable for facing the outside world.  It’s easy to get carried away, but I strongly suggest mixing and matching outfits and shoes. You’ll not want to schlep the extra luggage.

Do pack snacks. There are many meals not provided by RWA and you’ll be on your own. Bring nutrition bars, trail mix, crackers, small boxes of cereal, packets of tea or Crystal Light, or whatever packable foods you like to munch on. Bonus! You’ll save tons of money if you don’t step out to delis and restaurants for each meal.

Do budget for shipping costs. With all those free books, you’ll likely want to ship a box or two home. Or, bring an empty carry-on suitcase. Fill your books and other souvenirs in your bag and check it in at the airport.

Do have business cards handy.  Give them out freely.  Carry an empty business card holder for the cards you collect. Write pertinent information about the people you meet on the backs of their cards. Your mind will be mush when you get home and this will help you remember who they are later.

Do wear comfy shoes. Got a new pair bought just for the conference? Break them in now. You will be doing a lot of walking. It never fails. You will have a room on the far side of the hotel and most hotels do not have those nifty moving walkways. Trust me, no matter the care you take or how trusty your footwear is, you’ll need band-aids, so bring lots of them.

Overall, BE CONFIDENT. When you are confident, people gravitate to you and respect you as a professional. I’m not saying that to scare the introverts. Even an introvert can display confidence and be seen as professional.  In a way, this is part of branding yourself.



Don’t get slobbering drunk.  This should be self-explanatory. No lamp shades on your head, professing your love loudly for everyone in the room, or dancing on the tables.

Don’t be rude, bad mouth, or complain, even among friends. What comes around, goes around. You could be overheard, or your words taken out of context. People may not always remember those who are kind and polite, but they never forget someone who is ugly.

Don’t dress inappropriately. Another no-brainer. No stripper clothes. No Cher or Lady Gaga outfits. No Daisy Dukes. You get the picture.

Don’t stalk the pros. Keep in mind they are there panning for gold, too, but they are talking with hundreds of people.  Approach them if they seem receptive. Pick up on their cues. They are just like you and I, they like their personal space and may be tired. If they seem uninterested, be gracious, offer a business card, and move on.

Don’t line cut. Yes, people do this, and if daggers could be thrown from dirty looks, it would be a crime scene writer’s conference.

Don’t crash parties. There are many parties that are open for all conference attendees. But some are not. It’s bad form. Remember those daggers?

Don’t try to sell your book. You will not walk away from the conference with a contract in hand no matter how great your novel. Pitch your book, yes, but sell yourself!

There you have it, my do’s and don’ts for conference. And complimentary pictures of Mr. Cooper.

One last thing I’d like to add. No matter what type of conference you attend, you won’t be able to do it all, so relax, and most of all HAVE FUN!

Got anything to add? Let me hear from you.


17 Responses to Conference Tips, Bradley Cooper, & Daggers

  1. Berinn Rae says:

    Love it! Thanks for the great tips!


  2. jbrayweber says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Berinn. 🙂


  3. Tess says:

    Do bring a jacket…and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people!

    Great blog, Jenn! Wish I was going.


  4. jbrayweber says:

    Yes, a jacket or wrap is a must. I’m the type that is freezing while others feel like its warm. Those hotels are dry and they pump in tons of air to make sure you are ‘comfortable’ , in other words, chilled. 🙂

    Wish you were going, too. Tess.


  5. Marie-Claude says:

    Really really great tips Jenn!

    I’ll add one on the business card thing. If you have a book out, instead of a business card, have some book collector cards made (business card size with your cover on one side, other side with your info: website, social media site). Pass those around instead of cards. I keep running out of collector cards at conferences!


  6. jbrayweber says:

    Very good point, MC.

    This year, I have romance trading cards that I will be giving out with my business cards. Collector cards seems to be hot, hot, hot, right now.


  7. Melissa says:

    Awesome tips, Jenn! 🙂 Packing snacks is a big one! I know I can’t function at all if I’m hungry.


  8. jbrayweber says:

    Oomph, Stacey and I learned this lesson the first year we attended the RWA conference. We kept missing breakfast and it was becoming costly to go out. It was convenient a CVS store was nearby. We stocked up on snacks and Band-aids!
    Thanks, Missy!


  9. Ruth says:

    What, I’m supposed to pack light!!! I don’t know if I can do that. I’m only shipping one box this year– does that count as light? And I am buying smaller versions of the normal hair, conditioner, facial, etc this year. And I am cutting down on the shoes-maybe. But seriously, those are really good tips and I had cards printed up for the wine and cheese shindig. See ya’lllll in New York.



  10. jbrayweber says:

    Wow! Only ONE box this year?! For you, that IS packing light.
    And for all of you wondering, Ruth hosts a wine, chocolate, cheese party in her room at the RWA conference every year. No plastic wine glasses for her. No way. She ships GLASSES! Everyone is invited. If you are going, we can hook you up with an invitation. 😉


  11. Bethany says:

    I won’t be going to RWA Nationals, but these tips are good for pretty much any conference. I’ve attended several different kinds and if don’t approach when there’s a chance you can miss an opportunity (and that never feels good). But respect and politeness goes a long way towards people being okay with talking with you. Have fun everyone who is going 🙂


  12. jbrayweber says:

    Absolutely, Bethany. These tips are across the board for any conference. It really boils down to common sense and professionalism among your industry peers.
    Thanks for stopping by.


  13. All great pointers….


  14. jbrayweber says:

    Thanks, Savannah! 🙂


  15. Lots of good tips to remember, Jenn! I’m so looking forward to rooming with you again. We’re going to have fun and learn a ton of stuff!!!
    I also would add to remember chap stick or lots of lipstick. The air is always so dry in those darn hotels and my lips feel like they’re going to split open.


  16. jbrayweber says:

    Nah – that’s just from all the kissy faces you do, Stacey. LOL! JK
    She’s absolutely right. Chapstick or lipstick is a must. Lotion, too. My hands get dry easily and quickly.

    Look out New York. We’re a-comin’!


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