I know, attending conferences can be overwhelming. There's so much you hope to get out of it: information, networking opportunities and tools for your craft. But if you expect too much, you're bound to be disappointed. So don't set your expectations too high. If you do, you'll get your attitude all out of whack. Go hoping to learn a little, while making some new friends along the way, and you'll be bound to get your money's worth.
I'm not saying I know it all--that would be crazy--but I've gone to a few writer's conferences and I remember my first. I was nervous. So, I thought it couldn't hurt if I shared a couple ideas that might help you.
1) Wear comfortable shoes. You'll be walking from one session to another and wanting to check out the book sales so don't make it hard on yourself.
2) Just like number 1 above, wear comfortable clothing. Nothing too formal. Of course that doesn't mean sloppy either. The perfect thing would be business casual.
3) Join a table with others. You'll have more fun if you share the experience with others.
4) Speak up. Don't be afraid to comment or share ideas, if you're asked.
5) Bring a business card to hand out. It doesn't have to have more than basic information: your name, number, email address. That way, if you make a connection, you can provide your contact information easily.
6) Have a positive attitude. Even if the conference doesn't turn out to be everything you'd hoped, you can still get something out of the event. Sometimes the end result will come much later.
7) Bring a couple first pages of your manuscript. You might not need them but you never know and if an opportunity presents itself, you'll be prepared.
8) Don't forget to bring the tools of your trade: paper, pencils and a pen. You might want to take notes - even if you aren't a note-taker you might hear something that inspires you and, if you don't write it down, you might forget.
9) Introduce yourself. If you're standing in an elevator, in line at lunch or waiting to buy a cup of coffee, say 'hello' and you might make a new friend who has similar interests.
10) Relax. This is supposed to be fun.
If anyone else has an idea or two - please add them to the "comments" section.