I love writers’ conferences.
I hate the jitters that go with them. Even after 20 years in this business, I can still get the jitters when talking to really important people. To quiet the butterflies in my stomach, I’ve developed some strategies.
The first strategy is ‘Giants and Pygmies.’ When you meet anyone for the first time, you often immediately classify them as either a Giant or a Pygmy. The Giants are strong and powerful. They’re influencers who can make or break your career. The Pygmies are the opposite. They’re small, weak and can’t help you one bit.
In reality, no one is a Giant or a Pygmy. We are all human and as the saying goes, ‘We all put our trousers on one leg at a time.’ The mental task is to lower the Giants and raise the Pygmies so you are all on the same level. Everyone in the room has equal value, including you. You’re there to meet them and they’re there to meet you.
Those awkward pauses in a conversation need a strategy, too. You can always ask a question and listen. Ignore that voice in your head that’s trying to find a witty remark to say next. By listening, you’ll find another question to ask and a genuine conversation will begin.
When talking with a key influencer, drop your own agenda. The goal is to establish a relationship so you will both come away with a positive experience. They’ll remember your smile more than what you said.
Write on everybody!