“Stop talking, Megan Brown.” I could feel the heat flush in my face. This always happens to me. I realized I was unapologetically spilling my guts about the book idea in my brain without even pausing to breathe and completely dominating the conversation at this roundtable-style workshop. The look of sheer confusion on the mentor author’s face told me I was talking way too much, and I still couldn’t seem to stop. Looking back, I know I was just really excited to be there, all hyped up as an extrovert, and couldn’t wait for my turn to share. But this rookie mistake probably resulted in a handful of missed opportunities.
As you prepare to attend conferences or networking events, here are a few rookie mistakes to avoid.
Don’t dominate the conversation. Avoid the temptation to overshare, talk too much, or ask too many questions. Do make the effort to leave room for an actual conversation. There are few things that turn me off like someone who is only interested in taking “at” me. (Ironic, I know. I am totally guilty of the occasional information dump.)
Don’t “wing it.” When I’m meeting with up-and-coming authors, I can tell pretty early on whether or not they did their homework before coming to a conference. They rarely have any of their tools together and seem “out of the know.” Do come prepared with business cards, a one-sheet, and a polished pitch.
Don’t act in haste. The conference “high” is real. You will have finished a meeting or had a great workshop, and you’ll want to start the work right then and there. What I mean is you might want to craft content, build a course, launch a podcast, or start a new project right at the moment. While it never hurts to brainstorm or write down ideas, don’t jump in with haste. All projects or potential partnerships need to be properly processed and prepared for. Plus, projects or partnerships started in haste tend to end as fast as they start. Do plan to keep the conversation or opportunity open. If you have successful meetings or receive valuable feedback on what you should do next, plan to follow up and nurture the opportunity.
We all make rookie mistakes. I know I have. Acting in haste, I sent a quickly crafted proposal edit to an acquisition editor without proofing; and I misspelled my own name: “A Proposal by Megegran Brown.” It was not my finest moment, and I definitely missed an opportunity. Be intentional with the conversations you’re having. Do the work of preparing without “winging it,” and slow your roll. You’ll enjoy the benefits of making connections by creating space for meaningful conversations. Doing your prep work will build your confidence and show your commitment to the work. Slowing down and focusing will help you complete each project well or build partnerships made to last. Rookie mistakes are inevitable, but knowing how to avoid them will help you make the most of your conference experience.