Networking at Conferences

When I started to wonder if the organization for the writing conference I usually attend had closed up — and I still don’t know; I only have a lack of information — I immediately went to Plan B: Find something else.  Especially since my contemporary fantasy Miasma will be done in December.  In Washington, DC, there aren’t that many opportunities.  It’s not a town for creative people.  Even finding writer’s groups can be a challenge.  Yet, it’s an essential part of networking for a writer, as The Kill Zone mentions:

It’s like the writing industry is this huge ocean reef, with our little coral tentacles waving in the current for sustenance. If you’re not waving, you miss the juicy bits. Me? I’m waving with both hands and feet! After all, this is my career, we’re talking about. Research. Writing. Riding the Conference Current. It’s all part of the job.

So I had to think outside what I would normally do.  ThrillerFest is probably the most valuable writing conference to go to that’s a reasonable distance for me.  It’s also easily the most expensive thing I could go to, and budget is a consideration. There are other writer’s conferences within driving distance, but most of those focus more on teaching beginning writers.  While I can probably network there, it doesn’t seem cost-effective to get workshop on “Five Editing Tips” and be told things I already know.

So the answer came in two things:

  1. Science fiction conventions: I used to go when I was a fan, but stopped after the fans in the fandom I was in got too strange (40 year old women gushing about men in tight pants.  Yikes!).  Then, I focused on actors.  But writers and agents also attend.  While there isn’t any really close to me, there are four within driving distance.  The first one is in early January and looks like a small, intimate con (Chiller Theatre was the the last one I went to, and it was nearly was closed down by the fire marshal), with writer attendees already scheduled.
  2. Civil War events.  My next contemporary fantasy thriller is going to have a second plot set during the Civil War.  Given it’s the 150 commemoration for the next 5 years, I’m going to have plenty of opportunity to go to events locally.  These are often free or only cost $10-15.  Plus, it’s doing double duty as networking and research opportunities.

If the organization survives and we end up coordinating a conference, I’ll have that, too.

What are you doing to network in person?