Mix and Mingle at SM’17!
Whether you’re a newcomer or a long time conference attendee, you’re sure to find folks to help you along your creative journey at this year’s SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle! Of course, the speakers and sessions will be amazing. Look at that line-up! Authors. Illustrators. Art Directors. Editors and Agents. Wow!
If this is your first conference or if you’ve lost count of how many conferences you’ve attended, think about the benefits of expanding your network of writers and illustrators. Get out there and meet people! I know, I know, sometimes it’s hard to be a new person in a situation where it might seem like everybody knows everybody else, especially if you might be a little on the “shy side.” It can also be a challenge for long time attendees to help newcomers feel at ease in a conference setting, too.
We began something at WIK ’16 in Birmingham with a Membership Display and are continuing this at SM ’17 because it seemed to be helpful. Here’s how this works:
Local Liaison’s names are posted on the Membership Display. Look for the name of the Local Liaison who is closest to where you are, select the corresponding color slip of paper and put it in your name tag. Then go out there and meet people! If they have the same colored tab in their name tag, chances are they might live close to where you are and might consider forming a critique group. Local Liaisons are volunteers who hold local events from time to time in their area. Some LLs choose to belong to critique groups too, but their main function is to provide opportunities for local members to get together and pass along information. If there is not a Local Liaison close to where you live, consider becoming one yourself. (Ask us how!)
Let’s say you are a first time attendee at a conference. You get to know six people there—three of them are writers and three are illustrators. You ask open-ended questions, listen, get to know what they are working on and share a little bit about yourself and your project(s). Maybe they are in your area and you see them again at a Local Event, or you find other ways to keep in touch through social media. Maybe you attend the next conference, those six people are there and you get to know six more new people. See how this works? You will begin to develop and expand both your knowledge base of the art and craft of writing/illustrating and your network of creatives. This also works as long time attendees “pay it forward” by welcoming new members and, who later, express delight by learning something new or by following along in the careers of someone they had met at a conference. By the time you have attended several conferences you will have met so many people, learned so much more, and your network will have expanded, like when pebbles thrown in a pond begin to overlap one other.
So Welcome to Southern Breeze and I’ll look forward to meeting you at Springmingle.
All my best,