How to Follow Up After a Writing Conference

Recently I ran a guest post about how to get the most out of a writer’s conference, and one of the comments on it was from our reader Michelle, who said:

Excellent advice Cherie! I have to say, I find the follow-up so difficult. I don’t know if it’s the exhaustion from the travel or all the work waiting for me when I return. Any tips on how to schedule that effectively and actually get it done?

I love this question, don’t you? Michelle is so right when she talks about being exhausted after a conference. It can be difficult to connect with all these people you just chatted with. It’s a little bit of information overload, especially for writers, who tend to be on the introverted side.

So here’s some advice on that.

Follow Up by Planning Ahead

The best way to follow up is to plan for it. Don’t wait until you have time, because once you’re home and back to your normal schedule, you’ll be busy and won’t be able to find the time. Before you go, mentally prepare yourself for X number of days of interaction, however long the conference goes plus one more. Include a day to follow up in that number. Even when you get home, stay in “conference mode” until you’ve connected afterward with people.

Write Notes About People You Meet

You’ll meet so many people at a conference that you might not be able to keep it all straight once you get home. That’s why it’s important to take notes as you meet people. Do it discretely! Don’t whip out your notebook as you talk to someone because you’ll miss all the nonverbal clues about their personality, and that’s WHY you go to a conference to begin with, to get to know someone on a personal level. (Besides that, if you take notes while you’re talking to someone new, you may creep them out.)

Take notes on the back of business cards. When someone hands you their card, mark a few notes about them immediately after meeting them. This will help you follow up after.

Rest For a Day After the Conference

I don’t know about you, but if I try and follow up immediately when I get home I am so tired my emails and notes make no sense. So it’s a good idea to wait a day. Go home. Rest. When the day is over and before you actually get back to your normal schedule, start making calls or emails. I make it a point to email people whenever I’ve been introduced to them just to say it was nice to meet them. If I have anything else to add (like the fact that they can do an interview with me here or schedule a stop on a blog tour), I might add that to the note. I don’t give them links to my books or try to spam them, however! That’s bad form. Instead, I let them know what I do for them. Sometimes I even phrase it that way. Something like:

“It was great to meet you yesterday. I enjoyed hearing about your book and hope you’ll call on me if you need help with marketing, interviews, or reviews. I’ll do what I can.”

This lets them know that I am interested in helping, and I believe in their efforts. Hopefully, when the time comes when I need to ask a favor, they will be interested in helping me as well.

Sum Up What You’ve Learned

As you already know by reading this blog, I love to take a few weeks and sum up everything I’ve learned at a conference or seminar. I’ve done that when I’ve seen an author I’ve enjoyed hearing, attended a conference, or even had dinner with someone. I try and let it all sink in for a bit and then sum it up. You don’t have to necessarily blog about it, but if you do, it provides one more way you can compliment the author or conference organizers to let them know you appreciated their event.

Image: Morguefile

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2 Comments on "How to Follow Up After a Writing Conference"

  1. Timely follow-up makes a huge difference, in my experience. I rest up for a day, and then I block off time to go through all the cards, addresses, emails, etc. I’ve collected and either send a note or an email to each one — fellow authors, booksellers, agents, panelists, etc. I also like to send a thank you to conference organizers, who often don’t get the recognition they deserve.

    If an agent or editor has requested that I send materials, they go out within 48 hours of the end of the conference, If I have to stay up a little late, so be it.

    I’m a big believer in holiday cards, so they also all go on my holiday card list for that year.

    Taking the time to follow up makes a difference. A big one. A positive one.


    Cherie Reply:

    Great tips, Devon! Thanks for sharing these.


  2. Wow Cherie! This is Sooooo helpful!. I’m bookmarking this site and sharing it with my writer friends and colleagues. Thank you for writing a follow-up about following up. And a special thanks for responding in such depth to a reader’s comment. Really shows how much you care. Best–Michelle


    Cherie Reply:

    Aw, Michelle, you’re so sweet. Thanks for your kind words and your thoughtful question!


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