Convention Etiquette 101

Do you ever attend writers’ conferences? They can be great places to meet agents, editors and other writers, and networking opportunities abound. To make the most of those opportunities, make sure you follow some basic rules of etiquette. In this article, Dan Janal outlines some behaviors to avoid at your next writers’ conference.

The people you meet at conventions are the friendliest, politest and most considerate people in the world.

Except when they are crashing boors.

Read this article to increase your etiquette IQ so you don’t make a fool of yourself at the next convention. Note: All these stories are true. I couldn’t possibly make this up.

1. If you want to have your picture taken with a celebrity while she is talking to someone, DO NOT: Interrupt the conversation, ask for a picture and run off with nary a thank you to the celebrity nor the picture taker. DO THIS: Wait patiently for the conversation to end, introduce yourself politely, ask to have your picture taken and say “please” and “thank you” often to the celebrity and the picture taker. This happens so often you won’t believe it.

2. If you are talking to someone beneath your exalted status in the hallway, DO NOT look over the person’s shoulder and look for a more important person to talk to. DO THIS: End the conversation politely at an appropriate point and leave the person feeling like he had a meaningful interaction and was not cast off in favor of a bigger fish.

3. Do not sing in the elevator. Ever. Ever. Ever. Yes, this did happen to me as the elevator doors opened on the 30th floor and I stepped in to the elevator to see and hear a woman sing an original song that sounded like “I don’t love you. You don’t love me” which she repeated several times. She didn’t stop when I entered. I quickly realized 30 floors can be a very long ride and I leapt out of the elevator as the doors closed and I heard “And I know you don’t love me” and I continued hearing it for some 20 floors as the voice grew fainter and fainter.

4. If you want to talk to someone who is talking to someone else, DO patiently wait off to the side and join in at an appropriate moment. DO NOT barge into the two-some and immediately interject your thoughts. These people were having a conversation. Just because you want to network doesn’t give you permission to barge into someone else’s conversation.

5. When someone starts a polite conversation with “What do you do?” that is not an invitation to do a 20-minute, non-stop sales pitch for you and your topic. DO NOT consider this an invitation to go into great detail about your personal issues with drugs, abuse or health issues. DO give a 15-second blurb that positions you and DO ask the person what he does. Remember that it takes two people to have a conversation but only one person to be a bore.

If you need a an etiquette expert to guide you through the fine points of dining, networking and business, please ask me refer you to several PR LEADS clients who are etiquette and protocol experts.

Dan Janal, author of Reporters Are Looking for YOU! helps small businesses get publicity so they can sell more products. My clients get terrific results from my coaching, consulting, done-for-you services and do-it-yourself tools. For info, go to www.prleadsplus.com or call me at 952-380-1554.