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SUMMARY

packing for your trip

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INTRODUCTION: HBIC Your Next Conference

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Part I: Before You Get There

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Getting the Most Out of Your Conference

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What To Do Before You Leave the House

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Packing for Your Trip

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Part II: While You’re There

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Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

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Networking and the Art of War

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Breaking Out of Introversion

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Stress and Self-Care

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Staying Flexible While You’re at Your Conference

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#moneyhoney

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Part III: When You Go Home

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Decompression and Self Care Post Con

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Following Up: How to Make the Most of Your Networking Hard Work

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Dream. Do. Dominate: A Powerful GoalSetting and Action-Planning Tool HBIC NATION CONFERENCE SURVIVAL GUIDE http://hbicnation.com LAYOUT DESIGN Alexandra Haughton EDITOR Julia Kelly A NOTE ON SHARING: Feel free to share the Conference Survival Guide with your colleagues and friends--and encourage them to join HBIC Nation: http://hbicnation.com/citizenship

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INTRODUCTION

HBIC Your Next Conference

You’ve paid your conference registration fees. Your travel and hotel is booked. Now what?

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BICs know that sometimes a little planning can help you make huge leaps when it comes to building your creative empire. Whether you’re a first-timer or a veteran of professional conferences, this survival guide will help prep you before you leave, stay focused and avoid burnout while you’re there, and process what you learned when you get home. Inside you’ll find handy checklists, pep talks, and more. We’ve also included some exercises that will make you think about why you signed up to hang out with other pros and what you learned when you get home. We encourage you to give those worksheets a shot, but feel free to come back to sections that might feel challenging or uncomfortable. Remember, HBICs get stuff done — and have fun doing it! XOXO, Alexandra, Alexis, Julia, Laura, Lindsay, and Mary Chris

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Part I: Before You Get There

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J U L I A K E L LY

Getting the Most Out of Your Conference

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eople sign up for conferences for a lot of reasons: networking, marketing opportunities, workshops and learning, reconnecting with friends, and more. If you want to get the most out of your conference experience, it’s helpful to sit down and do some thinking about why you’re spending your time and money. This exercise will help you set some clear expectations and goals so you don’t feel lost when you check in at your hotel...

Why did I sign up for this conference anyway? • • • I’d love to meet these people (even if sometimes meeting strangers is intimidating)! Here’s my networking wish list: • • • When I get home, I hope to have learned/met/pitched… • • •

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TA K E N O T E :

What To Do Before You Leave the House

You don’t have to be an organizational pro to do a few simple things before you get to the conference to make sure your days away go smoothly. DO A TRAVEL AND HOUSING DOUBLE CHECK A few weeks before you fly, drive, or take the train to your conference, take a few moments to look at all of your travel and housing reservations. One of the HBIC founders who shall remain nameless did this about a month before a big conference and realized that she somehow had managed to book her travel in reverse. Instead of flying to San Diego for the start of her conference, she was booked on a flight from San Diego to her home city. Yes, she paid for an expensive mistake but she paid for it a month in advance rather than showing up to the airport on the day of her trip and realizing she didn’t have a spot on a plane. In addition to checking your travel dates and times, you can also call your hotel and confirm your reservation. If you need to make arrangements to get from a transportation hub to where you’re staying, this is also a good time to look into book taxis, shuttles, or carpooling with other conference attendees. MAP OUT YOUR SCHEDULE Many conferences release a schedule of workshops, keynote speeches, and mixers ahead of time. Take advantage of this time! If you have a specific goal in mind like learning about marketing or meeting with a particular vendor, find the sessions that target those goals. Putting them on your calendar and setting alerts on your phone can help you make sure you make them a priority during a chaotic day. Just remember to be mindful of time zone changes if you’re traveling from far away! A few weeks before your conference starts, you may also want to reach out to professionals you want to get in front of. Schedules start filling up quickly, so it’s better to be on the early side when it comes to approaching people, especially when it comes to securing lunch and dinner meetings. Don’t forget about your friends! Sometimes it can be tough catching people on the fly. If part of your conference plan is to have a reunion, make the time for it! And finally, don’t forget to give yourself a breather. Conferences can be fast-paced and emotionally draining. Building some time in where you can go back to your room and be quiet, hit the gym to burn off some steam, or go for a walk can be the difference between enjoying yourself every day and burning out after 48 hours.

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GET YOUR CONFERENCE SURVIVAL KIT TOGETHER Plan on packing these items in your bag so you’ll be ready for every scenario, good and bad: •

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• • •

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Business cards — Hand these out with wild abandon, HBIC! This is not a time to be shy. If people are at conferences, they want to meet other creative entrepreneurs like you. Promo and swag materials — You can hand things out along with your business cards or look for a sanctioned spot to drop them where people can pick them up. Phone, tablet, and laptop chargers — Whether you’re taking notes or tweeting your conference, you’re likely going to need to recharge on the fly. Backup charger — We’re big fans of Mophies, little backup chargers that mean you aren’t tied to a plug while you’re recharging your phone. Pen — We like to jot down notes on the back of business cards we get to remind us where we met people. This is super helpful later on when you’re following up after you go home. Snacks and a water bottle — We’re big believers in staying hydrated and eating proper meals, but we’re also realistic about how hectic things can get. Stash a few protein-packed bars in your bag and bring a water bottle to avoid relying on expensive conference center snack stores. Blister Band-Aids — You’re going to walk a lot more than you think during a conference. These are great to have in your back to stave off blisters from unfamiliar shoes or overuse. If you don’t use them, you might be able to help another HBIC out when she’s hurting. Aspirin — You guessed it, same principle as the Band-Aids. Tampons — Check out that Band-Aid rule again. Cardigan — Don’t be surprised if your conference ballrooms are chillier than the Arctic!


Packing

FOR YOUR TRIP Erin Knightley’s packing video has become a sensation in the romance writing community since she posted it in 2013.

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ome of us in HBIC Nation are dedicated carry-on only travelers. Others wouldn’t dream of leaving the house with backup outfits. No matter what your style is, here are a few helpful videos and articles to help get you started. Packing Tips from Erin Knightley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDdv91mcAi0 Packing List for RWA by Alexandra Haughton http://alexandrahaughton.com/blog/2015/7/15/packing-list-for- rwa-romance-writers-of-america-conference-in-new-york

What to Pack for RWA by Lindsay Emory https://lindsayemory.com/blog/2016/07/what-to-pack-for-rwa-2016 A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have an outfit for every day of your conference plus a backup or two. Dresses will cut down on the number of items you need to take, but if dresses aren’t your thing that’s totally fine. Just remember that you’re going to be seeing friends, taking meetings, and networking. Business casual is usually a safe bet for those worried about dress code at creative conferences, and you can always look at photos from previous years to get a guideline. You also want to consider whether you’ll be doing any other activities and pack accordingly. Often parties and off-site events are a part of conferences. Check your schedule and make note of anything you might need special clothing for.*

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*The founders of HBIC are also big supporters of bringing swimsuits and/or poolside accessories to take advantage of poolside relaxation mid-conference.


Part II: While You’re There

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Dealing With Imposter Syndrome BY LINDSAY EMORY

Imposter, noun, a person who practices deception under an assumed character, identity, or name. Syn; bluffer, charlatan, fraud, phony. It’s not uncommon for convention attendees to feel like they don’t belong.

I’m not a bestseller. I haven’t published yet. I don’t know anyone. Who do I think I am, showing up here, acting like I’m somebody?

But we’re here to tell you, YOU BELONG. Bestsellers started with one book. Published authors started with no words on the page. Strangers are only friends you haven’t met yet. You think that’s cheesy? We’ve got affirmations. Repeat these (or write ‘em down) when you start to feel like Fraudy Mc Frauderson. ●• I am a rock star. (insert mental image of you in tight leather pants jumping on an amp onstage.) ●• I take my place without fear or apology. (insert mental image of you sitting at a crowded table of your idols.) ●• I am a f-ing HBIC and I dominate my goals. (insert mental image of your HBIC tribe shouting your name, fists raised high.)  

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L A U R A V O N H O LT

NETWORKING AND THE ART OF

WAR

There’s a reason why Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has been used by military leaders, entrepreneurs and masters of strategy for over 1500 years. It’s genius. It is also applicable to almost every situation where you may need to “conquer” an unknown territory. The principles in The Art of War can be incredibly helpful for networking at conferences, a situation which many find intimidating. But, with a little strategy and a dose of bravado, networking can go from terrifying to triumphant. Here are my best tips for using military strategy to win over any conference crowd. HAVE CLEAR GOALS No one should go to war with a vague idea of what they’ll get out of it. The same goes for conferences. Have a specific list of what you hope to get out of your conference. Perhaps it’s meeting with leaders in the industry, getting face time with vendors, meeting potential partners or getting leads. Have a clear idea of your end game so you can focus your efforts. RESEARCH THE TERRAIN Study the website for information on format and schedule. Will there be large workshops or breakout sessions? What are the key events to attend? Which industry leaders will be in attendance? Before the conference, scan social media and the internet for intel on past conferences. This is your “boots on the ground” intelligence, a way to gauge the vibe and tone of the conference, while discovering who will attend and what has occurred at past conferences. It’s also a good way to find out about unofficial social events and expectations around the conference.

hopes, fears and needs of the other conference attendees. These people are not your enemies, but they are people you want to win over, and convert to your side. The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to network. GET A SPY ON THE INSIDE If possible, connect with a fellow attendee before the conference, preferably someone who has attended the conference before and has a lay of the land. This is especially useful if you are attending solo, as it will give you a built in social network and introduction to other contacts. Industry-related Facebook groups are very useful for these kinds of connections. Arrange to meet for coffee or a drink at the conference, or in your town if they live in the same city. SEIZE THE ADVANTAGE It’s normal to be a bit apprehensive in crowds or social situations with strangers. You can use this to your advantage if you remember that everyone else is nervous, too. You don’t have to be the bravest person at the conference, you just have to a tiny bit braver than the person next to you. If you take the initiative to introduce yourself first, you’ll automatically come off as more confident, and socially valuable.

ned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you work to make people feel valued, connected and safe, they will trust you as a leader. “IN THE MIDST OF CHAOS, THERE IS OPPORTUNITY” Most people make the mistake of confining their networking to official events and workshops. However, there is a lot more to the conference experience. Look for more casual opportunities to make connections: at the hotel gym, the hotel pool, in line at Starbucks. You never know who will be standing in line with you. These are the magic moments that can make the best, most memorable connections.

EASY PEASY ICEBREAKERS: • • • • • •

●“Where are you from?” ●“How long have you been with your company/in the industry?” ●“Where were you before this?” ●“What interested you in this conference?” ●“What are you hoping to get out of this conference?” ●“What sessions/speakers are you looking forward to?” ●“What have been your favorite sessions/speakers so far?” ●“Will you be attending other conferences this year?” ●“I’m trying to improve [Fill In The Blank] — what are you doing, any tips?”

BE A GENERAL ON THE BATTLE• FIELD Some people call this “being a lea• der in the industry.” By seizing the advantage, and being just a bit braver • than other people, you can set yourself up to be a general on the battlefield. Once you’ve introduced yourself to a few people, introduce those people to each other. Making connections for Carry mints, gum and Kleenex. KNOW YOUR ENEMY other people gains trust and respect, Share generously. Your research on the terrain will and you’ll be seen as valuable person also give you information about the to know. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve lear-

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“If all else fails, wear a smile. Most people can’t resist a friendly face.”

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ALEXIS ANNE

Breaking Out of Introversion

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t’s your worst nightmare, right? Spending three or more days surrounded by people who are expecting you to talk and be outgoing and interesting. Fear not! I’m here to assure you that this is the one time you can put your introvert worries in a nice little box to save for later. You can do this for one major reason: you are amongst your people. Almost everyone is in the exact same boat as you. For once, instead of being the smaller percentage of people who’d rather curl up with a good book and tell everyone else to back off, you are in the magical majority!

Introvert: someone who recharges by being quiet and alone. Keep this in mind as you head off to conference. You can throw yourself into the madness of workshops and meetings, but reserve times to recharge in the quiet of your hotel room. Take a walk outside (safely), or find a quiet corner to read. All right. Now that we know the stakes, let’s talk about shedding our shells and socializing! Stranger Danger. We’re all here for the same reason. Keep that in mind as you look around. Everyone came with a goal related to writing. Even when you feel alone, you aren’t! This is the one time you can ignore all your bad experiences and take a chance on saying hi to a fellow writer in a workshop, standing in line to eat, or when you’re looking for somewhere to sit. Be Naked. (Not really.) In teaching they always tell us to be honest. Don’t pretend you know something when you don’t. The same is true at conferences. Be honest with yourself and the people around you. Don’t pretend to be okay if you’re not. If you sit down and are nervous to say hello, turn to the person beside you and say hello anyway, then tell them you’re nervous. Let the conversation flow from there! Think of It as an Adventure. You put your characters on a journey and now it’s your turn. No matter the outcome, the next few days are YOUR adventure to make the most of. There will be ups and downs, good times and bad, but as long as you are putting yourself out there, the adventure is yours to experience, so don’t waste it! Phone A Friend. Whether it is a virtual buddy back home or someone you’re meeting up with at the conference, have someone you can lean on when the going gets tough. Remember, you don’t have to be besties separated at birth to go into a conference together. Find someone who has a similar goal. Or if you are going in totally solo (as I did at my first conference!) make sure you have someone on speed dial who can talk you through a situation, be a shoulder, or just someone to sit quietly with (through the power of the internets) who is familiar. Goal. It’s a lot easier to break out and be a social butterfly when you have a reason. Keep that goal in mind each time you walk into a room filled with people, editor/agent appointments, or a workshop. What is your goal? How are you going to reach it? Do it.

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ALEXANDRA HAUGHTON

Stress and Self-Care

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et’s face it: conferences are stressful. Even though there’s a healthy dose of eustress in there (all that beneficial stress that comes with seeing friends, riding the high of a great pitch, and filling your brain with All The Things in breakout sessions), there’s an awful lot of distress too. In fact, the list of distress is so distressingly long and complicated, fellow HBIC, I’m choosing to not make the list. It’s a pretty luxury to forgo making the list of everything that will totally stress me out at conference as I sit here, hundreds of miles and a month or two away from the event. But when I’m in the thick of the conference (or, to be totally honest, starting the days right before when I’m packing and traveling), I don’t have that luxury. No matter how meticulously I plan, I’ll be bombarded by stressful situations. Recognizing and accepting that there will be stress is a good first step. But many of our go-to stress reducers (exercise, nutrition, sleep, therapy) aren’t always feasible or available in a conference setting. So what can we do when we’re stressed at con? From practical to woowoo, the tips in this article are a good way to make sure you’re taking care of yourself at conference.

First Things First If you haven’t seen the Everything Is Awful And I’m Not Okay list created by Sinope, take a look at it. It’s a phenomenal touchstone to have with you at the first moments of distress. Screenshot it, bookmark it, print it out and put it in your planner—but make sure you have access to it. It’s no-nonsense and super compassionate. (Seriously, drink your water and pack snacks. We can’t even begin to take care of your mind and emotions if your body is stressed out.) Author Shari Slade includes this list in her Writer’s Mental Health Tool Box, another must-read: http://sharislade.com/authortools

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Everything is Awful and I’m not okay... QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE GIVING UP Are you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water. Have you eaten in the past three hours? If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs. Perhaps some nuts or hummus? Have you showered in the past day? If not, take a shower right now. If daytime: are you dressed? If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas. Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress. If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep? Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed. If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure. Have you stretched your legs in the past day? If not, do so right now. If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please. If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip. Have you said something nice to someone in the past day? Do so, whether online or in person. Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it. Have you moved your body to music in the past day? If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song. Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days? If not, do so. Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets. Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them. Do you feel ineffective? Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip. Good job! Do you feel unattractive? Take a goddamn selfie. Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like. Do you feel paralyzed by indecision? Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day. If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable. Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial. Have you seen a therapist in the past few days? If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then. Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually? That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment. Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand? That may be screwing with your head. Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down. Have you waited a week? Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause. It happens. Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then. You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through. You are stronger than you think. This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and was created by Sinope at http://eponis.tumblr.com/post/113798088670/everything-is-awful-and-i’m-not-okay-questions-to

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SELF-CARE, CONTINUED

THAT HOTEL LIFE I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have a ride-or-die conference roommate. We’re a great team when it comes to respecting boundaries (and shower schedules) and knowing when to engage and when to retreat. I wish everybody had a superstar roomie, but I realize that’s not possible. (And hands off HBIC Lindsay; she’s mine.) But there are some things you can do before and during conference to maximize your roomie experience and minimize stress... SHARE YOUR SCHEDULES, HIGHLIGHTING ANY IMPORTANT EVENTS. If you’re pitching at 3pm, and know that you need a solid hour of quiet, alone time beforehand to practice and/or fix your hair, share that with your roommate so s/he can block off 1:45-2:45 in her schedule as a do not disturb time. Chances are, your roomie has a not-to-be-missed breakout session then, so it will work itself out without you fretting. But if s/he’s got something similar going on at the same time, and also needs some quiet, you can plan ahead of time to borrow a friend’s room or make a compromise. Ironing this out ahead of time is key to avoiding stress in the moment. And if one or both of you is a monster and unwilling to give, hey, there’s always noise-cancelling headphones. TALK ABOUT SLEEP. Are you a light sleeper or do you need a solid 45 minutes of snooze time in the morning? Most of us have long-since adapted to our partner or spouse’s quirks that we forget what it’s like to spend time in the bedroom with someone else. Being in the thick of conference stress is not the time to find out that your roommate talks in her sleep and prefers it to be a balmy 83 degrees when you need blackout curtains, three duvets, and a solid 7 hours to function. BE FORGIVING. Of yourself. Of your roommate(s). If you’re a neat freak who loses her mind at the sight of clutter, take some time to be real with yourself. (Conference clutter—all the handouts, and goodies, and fluffing up of clothes and belongings—isn’t easy to tame. When you double or multiply that by the number of people sharing a room, of course it can seem overwhelming.) Do the best you can to manage it, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Conferences last only a few days. You can go back to being a minimalist then. Conversely, unless your roommate is totally disrespecting your space, give her a little break for that pile of books and swag next to the television. CREATE A COCOON. Even the worst hotel room can be a sanctuary away from the noise and bustle of a professional conference. Of course it isn’t possible to bring along all of your favorites, but I bet you can think of a few things that would help comfort you in times of stress. If that means bringing your own pillow or blanket, by all means, pack your pillow or blanket. CONFERENCE SURVIVAL GUIDE

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“Even the worst hotel room can be a sanctuary away from the noise and bustle of a professional conference.”

Candles in hotel rooms are usually frowned upon, but bringing essential oils to use in a mini diffuser or to dab on your pulse points before bed is a great way to calm your mind (as long as your roomie isn’t sensitive to smell). Pack your favorite teas and a travel kettle or splurge on room service coffee at 7am. If you have the means, invest in amazing noise-canceling headphones or find a great noise-machine app (I love White Noise and Rain Rain) you can plug into. Pack those little foam ear plugs. And hey, building a blanket fort is free, so pull those covers up over your head and breathe. CELEBRATE YOUR ROOMMATE and the few hectic, stressful, awesome days you have together. Pack a small gift (it doesn’t have to be extravagant and probably shouldn’t take up a ton of suitcase space) that you can give at the beginning or the end of conference. Show her some sweet, small considerations along the way—text her to see if she needs a coffee while you’re braving the line; buy an extra-large bottle of water you can both use in refillable bottles or glasses; or leave a note of encouragement on her pillow or next to the hair dryer. Celebrate your roommate and the few hectic, stressful, awesome days you have together. Pack a small gift (it doesn’t have to be extravagant and probably shouldn’t take up a ton of suitcase space) that you can give at the beginning or the end of conference. Show her some sweet, small considerations along the way—text her to see if she needs a coffee while you’re braving the line; buy an extra-large bottle of water you can both use in refillable bottles or glasses; or leave a note of encouragement on her pillow or next to the hair dryer.

(PHOTO)

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TALK ABOUT IT. Seriously. You are not alone. If you’re feeling stressed, you can bet your luggage the person next to you is feeling it too. (And if they deny it, they’re a lying liar. Conferences are hard.) Identify your allies ahead of time and lean on them. Give yourself five minutes to blab it out and then move on—chances are you won’t even make it the full five minutes before moving on to more enjoyable topics. If you’re attending alone, have a lifeline back home you can call or text. Or, I know it’s hard hard hard hard to do, but allow yourself to be vulnerable and talk to a stranger. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been in a long line and have started with a frazzled smile and something like “whoa, this is intense.” If you don’t know where to start, find a conference organizer and they can help. OR DON’T TALK ABOUT IT. Recognize and accept your limits. You know what’s best for yourself. Trust your judgment and intuition. If you need to retreat to that cocoon, retreat and recharge. But don’t stay there all day, okay love? GO FOR A WALK. STRETCH. LEAVE THE HOTEL even if it’s to stand on the back patio and breathe in some fresh air. Don’t you dare feel guilty about leaving a session early to go to the pool or to take a nap or go sightseeing. LAUGH. OR DANCE. Or dance around laughing. LIST THREE THINGS you’ve learned or felt good about today. (If you’re feeling particularly crappy, make a list of three things you’d like to learn or feel good about.) NOTE: These next two conference self-care tips involve a few exercises in mindfulness and self-compassion. If you’re familiar and comfortable with the concepts, you may lead yourself in the practice. If you’re just starting out with self-compassion—or feel like you need a gentle hand guiding you—feel free to access the audio recordings of the following exercises (and more) on my website (http://alexandrahaughton.com/mindful-selfcompassion-for-creative-types)

No amount of selfcare replaces a doctor’s supervision. If you’re under medical care, chat through any concerns before you leave town.

If you keep a pair of earbuds with you, you can plug and play whenever or wherever you need. In the lobby of the conference area, while locked in a bathroom stall, or resting comfortably in your room. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS. If you’re in the middle of a session and suddenly it’s all too much and your mind is spinning, there are a few things you can do to bring yourself into the moment and out of that worry and stress. You don’t even have to get up and leave (although don’t feel badly about getting up and leaving if you need to!) or contort your body into a pose to bring yourself back to center. Take an opportunity to be kind to yourself and not judge. If you notice the stressful thoughts creeping back in, redirect your attention back to the present moment. JUST BREATHE. It all starts with the breath. Focus on your breath, the steady in and out. In your mind, say “in” on the in breath and “out” on the exhale. Repeat this as long as you need. If your mind wanders, gently lead it back to the breath. In and out. In. Out. THE FIVE SENSES. Instead of focusing on all the stress that’s zig-zagging through your mind and body, identify an element in the space you inhabit for each of the five senses: touch, sight, taste, sound, smell. It doesn’t matter which you focus on first, or for how long you focus on each element. When you’re finished, you can take some time to notice how your body feels in this moment. This. Moment. Be here now. CONFERENCE SURVIVAL GUIDE

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It all starts with the breath. Focus on your breath, the steady in and out. In your mind, say “in” on the in breath and “out” on the exhale. Repeat this as long as you need. If your mind wanders, gently lead it back to the breath. In and out. In. Out.

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PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION. Be mindful of when you’re under stress or suffering and respond with care and kindness. This self-compassion can come in many forms; find the one(s) that works for you. TAKE A SELF-COMPASSION BREAK. You can do this in the middle of a session by just sitting comfortably and closing your eyes. Or if you feel the need for some privacy and can’t make it up to your room, head to the nearest restroom stall. You can recite in your mind, or whisper to yourself, “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is a part of life.” Then put your hands over your heart— or wherever it feels soothing—feeling the warmth and gentle touch of your hands, and say to yourself “I am not alone in my suffering.” Take some breaths, not judging, just being aware of your present emotions, and then offer yourself a phrase of compassion. “May I be kind to myself.” If that doesn’t seem to fit, you may offer yourself other phrases: may I accept myself as I am; may I forgive myself; may I be strong; may I live in peace. Offer yourself a smile, and maybe a gentle sigh, and then bring yourself back to center. SOFTEN-SOOTHE-ALLOW When you’re in a stressful situation or struggling with some difficult emotions, see if you can name the emotion. Is it anger? Fear? Confusion, despair, shame? Repeat that emotion, as if validating for a friend what s/he is feeling. “That’s longing.” “That’s sadness.” Can you identify where in your body you are experiencing the emotion? In your mind, gently incline your awareness to that spot and try to soften into that spot. Letting your muscles relax, as if you’re in warm water. You’re not trying to change the feeling; just hold it in a tender way. If you wish, you can place your hand over the part of your body that feels uncomfortable, or just place it gently over your heart, and imagine warmth and kindness flowing through your hand into your body. Always soothing. Not judging. Not wanting to change it. Just acknowledging and soothing. Make room for it. Allow it to be there. Are there some comforting words you need to hear? What would you say to a friend in the same situation? (I’m so sorry you feel this way. I care deeply about you.) Can you offer those same words to yourself? Always softening around the feeling and allowing yourself some time to be with those emotions. ABOVE ALL, KNOW IT WON’T LAST FOREVER. You’ll go back to real life soon enough. What you’re feeling now will pass. Take care of you, okay? <3

Alexandra Haughton completed Mindful Self-Compassion Intensive with co-founders Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer in the spring of 2017 and incorporates the practice within her workshops on living a creative life. If you’d like to know more about MSC, visit The Center for Mindful Self-Compassion (https://centerformsc.org ) or take a look at the following books: Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher Germer

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L I N D S AY E M O R Y

Staying Flexible at Conference

You’ve shelled out lots of macarons for this convention so you’re going in ready to take advantage of every second. But what if your best-laid plans go haywire? You meet some super simpatico peeps who invite you to go to the hotel bar instead of attending that workshop with that famous dude you reeeaaally wanted to see? You hear that the “MUST-SEE EVENT” of the con is this session you hadn’t even heard of? WHAT I LEARNED AT MY VERY FIRST MAJOR WRITERS’ CONVENTION WAS: FLOW LIKE FLO’RIDA. Pro Tips: • Make your list of ‘must do’s’ short and manageable - no more than three a day - to keep space for the awesome unexpected things. • Introduce yourself to the people who show up to the same things, you’re probably interested in the same topics and they might have useful scoop. • Take the advice of veterans. They know whereof they speak. • If conference recordings are available, and your budget allows, buy them. This will free you up and allow you to double your knowledge. • Follow conference hashtags like a hawk so you know what the buzz is.

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IT HAPPENED TO ME...

There I was, merrily on my way at RWA in New York when Laura von Holt approached me. “Hey Lindsay, your books are in the Avon signing.” “Oh, that’s nice,” I said, imagining that a Harper Collins employee had stacked a few copies of Sisterhood is Deadly on a table, off to the side. “No.” Laura was firm. “You’re there. In the signing.” I hurried across the room with all the big names of publishing that I so admired and she was right. They had set up a space for me to sign my books! I nearly started to cry… except they were all gone. Because somehow I had not received the message that this was going to happen and people had swarmed the room and scavenged all my books. But I rolled with it, sat my butt down, grabbed a sharpie and began signing whatever readers shoved in my face, LIKE THE HBIC I AM.

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L I N D S AY E M O R Y

#moneyhoney

An HBIC takes control of her finances. So if this conference is a BUSINESS conference for you, treat it like. A BUSINESS. Make sure you have some way of keeping track of expenses and receipts. A good old-fashioned envelope works. So does a scanner app. What to keep: •Hotel receipts •Transportation receipts (taxi, airfare, limo, carriage ride) •Conference fees, registration, educational materials

Caveat: Meals and drinks MAY NOT be tax deductible but if you’re taking a business partner, client or vendor out, keep those receipts together, make a note of what business was conducted and confer with your tax professional about them later.

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Part III: When You Go Home

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ALEXIS ANNE

Decompression and Self-Care Post Con

Fun Fact: I’ve cried at the airport after every single conference. And I know I’m not the only one. It’s a lot. An emotional roller coaster of awesome and whoa! More than likely you met some awesome people you already miss. Just as likely, you had some disappointments and hard moments. It’s going to take a few days (or longer!) to fully decompress from the experience. Below are some tips and tricks for navigating the process (with a heavy dose of self care.) • • • • • •

If you can, take the next day off from work. List your wins and losses Sleep. Drink lots of water. Take a really long, hot shower. Reward yourself for accomplishing an amazing task. My favorite reward is sushi, but for others it’s a Netflix binge or shopping. Follow your bliss and give yourself a pat on the back. • Do some journaling. I mean it! Just sit down with a pen and paper (old school, baby!) and write. Stream of consciousness. You might be surprised by what you haven’t taken the time to process yet. • Do the laundry and put away your luggage. Not right away (I’m not mean!) but after you’ve had a moment to breathe, get back into your real life routine and put a period at the end of conference time. It helps your brain divide between that special time and going back to reality. You’ve just run a marathon so don’t expect to be vibrant and normal when you get back home. Be kind to yourself. Be tired. Be overwhelmed. Take the time you need to recover, then get your new ducks in a row and move forward! You’ve just survived a major conference. Congratulations!

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J U L I A K E L LY

FOLLOWING UP: HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR NETWORKING

HARD WORK

You’re an HBIC so we know you networked like a pro at your conference, grabbing business cards at every opportunity. Go you! Now that you’re home, don’t let all your hard work go unrewarded. You don’t just want to make connections—you want to maintain them. That means you’ve got just a little bit of homework to do now that the conference is over. WHY YOU SHOULD BE FOLLOWING UP When I get home, I take all of my business cards or digital contacts and set them next to my computer. Then I systematically go through and send a follow-up email to everyone I met. Since I’m a writer, that means editors, agents, vendors, and fellow authors. I do this for a few reasons: • I want to thank people for their time if they sat down with me for a meeting. • I want people to remember me away from the blur of a conference. Sometimes you meet so many people that it’s hard to recall who you had that third glass of wine with. • I want to make sure they have my contact info. Maybe they lost my business card. Maybe they dump them all in their handbag and never look at them. If I directly email, I know I’m in their inbox. WHAT TO WRITE I know not everyone is comfortable with follow-up emails because they can feel so… formal. But guess what? They don’t have to. The best email is the one that’s going to trigger someone’s memory. After I get someone’s business card, I take a moment to jot down on the card: • Where I met them • What we talked about • Any common interests that jumped out at me These notes become the basis for a not-too-formal follow-up email. Bring up when you met and what you talked about, thank them for their time, and, most importantly, leave the door open for further communication.

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HERE’S A SAMPLE OF WHAT YOU MIGHT WRITE:

Dear [Name], I just wanted to shoot you a quick email to say how great it was to meet you at [conference name/workshop name]. [Some tidbit about what you spoke about such as… Your advice was hugely helpful/It’s always enjoy getting a chance to meet a fellow TK fan…]. I hope you get a chance to decompress after the conference, and I look forward to keeping in touch! Best, [Your HBIC name here]

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT YOU’RE AN HBIC AND BUILDING YOUR NETWORK MEANS INVESTING IN YOUR CREATIVE EMPIRE!

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ALEXANDRA HAUGHTON

DREAM. DO. DOMINATE.

Dream. Do. Dominate. It’s not just the motto of HBIC Nation; it’s also a powerful goal-setting and action-planning tool. (And y’all, it’s seriously simple because it taps into your deepest desires...and any HBIC’s finest skill: daydreaming.) MATERIALS: your magnificient brain, a timer, and a journal of choice. Find a spot where you feel safe and get comfortable. (Note: lying on your bed might not be the best choice post-con--zzzzzzz). If it feels right, take a few moments to do some breathing exercises to center yourself. And now it’s time for some serious vizualization. Don’t censor yourself and try not to let judgment come into play. Allow yourself the freedom to not set limits on this. (Though if it makes your planning-heart happy, set a timer for fifteen minutes so you know you won’t go too long.)

DREAM:

What’s the dream? What do I want?

DO:

What do I need to do to make it happen?

DOMINATE:

What does it look like when I’ve totally dominated? Then write it all down. Write down that dream you’re afraid to talk about and describe in glorious detail what it looks like when you’ve dominated. (Then you can let your logical brain connect the dots and see what steps you need to take to Make. It. Happen.) HBIC NATION

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Conference Survival Guide  

Created by the co-founders of HBICnation.com, a community for creatives. If attending a professional conference is part of your empire-bui...

Conference Survival Guide  

Created by the co-founders of HBICnation.com, a community for creatives. If attending a professional conference is part of your empire-bui...

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