By: Carleton Chinner

Humans have been telling each other stories about made-up magical beings doing impossible things since we first sat around campfires and stared out into the dark. The lure of the unknown has always pulled at some of us. If asking “what if?” takes you on a journey to a distant galaxy or gets you dreaming about dwarves in forests, then the speculative fiction community is your tribe. GenreCon is a great place to meet and interact with people who share your love of the weird and fantastical.

“How will I know who they are?” you cry. “What will we talk about?” If you’re like a lot of writers, the idea of mingling with a room full of strangers might leave you with damp palms and a desire to go hide in a quiet room somewhere. But fear not – help is at hand. Here are six handy tips for hanging out with your tribe.

      1. Dress for the Occasion

Speculative fiction writers are often easy to spot. Look for the Whovian t-shirt or the trekkie earrings. One fantasy writer I know is easy to spot by the trademark dagger she uses to pin up her hair. What will you wear

      2. Plan your Introduction

Don’t forget to introduce yourself. Make eye contact when you speak and make sure you catch the other person’s name. Prepare your response to the question “What do you write?”

      3. Be Sincere

Listen more than you talk. Ask questions about the other author’s work and be interested in their answers. What kind of writing do they do? What have they published? Celebrate their recent successes. Always be respectful; you never know who you are talking to. GenreCon attracts a wide range of authors from those just starting out to seasoned professionals.

      4. Don’t be a Lone Wolf

If you arrive alone, look around and see if there’s anyone you recognise. They may introduce you to other people. If not, find someone who is standing alone and start a conversation with them.

      5. Don’t Forget your Business Cards or Phone

There’s nothing worse than not having your contact details handy when a chance conversation suddenly turns into something important.

      6. Don’t be ‘That Guy’

You know the one, pushy, only wants to talk about themselves and moves on to the next networking conquest as soon as contact details have been exchanged. Keep it real. Some people you meet over the weekend might become lifelong friends.

Try this small exercise. Set yourself the goal of meeting two new people. After the excitement of the GenreCon weekend is over, keep in touch with the people you’ve met. If you’re genuine, the connections you make here can become a support system where you share ideas, increase your visibility, and encourage each other to greater success.

And don’t stop your networking there. Find a writers group that shares your interests: Vision Writers in Brisbane; the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild; or the Aussie Speculative Fiction group on Facebook are all excellent communities. Most importantly, book your ticket now! Numbers are limited and you don’t want to miss out.

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