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Pajama Pants Required: Making the Most of the Writer Unboxed OnConference


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Are you an introvert? Do you panic at the thought of walking up to a table of strangers and sitting down?  Are you thrilled to be invited to events, but then realize the day of you’d be much happier sitting home, alone, in your pajamas?

Lucky for you, I feel the same. So put on your fanciest pajama pants and come sit by me while we discuss the upcoming Writer Unboxed OnConference and figure out strategies for how to make the most of it together. 

(Haven’t yet signed up for the WU OnConference? You have six days to do so! Register HERE.)

Let’s start by discussing the Writer Unboxed community. It’s truly one of the most welcoming writing environments I’ve ever encountered, and everyone — regardless of their level of success and experience — is encouraged to participate. I’ve made some of my closest friends through the group, and we vary wildly in terms of writing interests and careers.  That said, it can be more difficult to forge that sense of community virtually, so here are some thoughts on what you can do to make the most of the conference and find your tribe:

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Fill out your bio posthaste, and make sure to include a photo!

Set up your bio features on the platform ASAP—and make them personal. Use a photo of YOU — not your cat, dog, or pet python, delightful as they might be. It doesn’t need to be professional, but it should be friendly and inviting. Craft a few lines about yourself. What sets you apart and makes you different? What fun hobbies do you have? Who are your favorite authors? These details can serve as a ‘hook’ giving other participants something to snag onto when you meet. (Don’t forget to include your social media links so others can find you outside of the conference.)

Be sure to check out the site in advance of the first event. (If you’ve signed up and haven’t yet received your unique link, please reach out to writerunboxed@writerunboxed.com asap; your email may have been lost to the void.) The social lounge is already open, so it’s a good way to meet people without pressure. The next gathering is TONIGHT at 8 pm ET. Play around with the features, introduce yourself in the chat function, and get comfortable so that the FIRST DAY OF SESSIONS (9/29), you aren’t fumbling with the controls or having anxiety over not knowing anyone. (Say hi to me in the chat or in a message and I promise to respond.) For more details, check out this in-depth guide on how to make the most out of the platform.

Reconnoiter the room. Under the chat function, look for bios of people you might want to connect with. Then be brave! Say hello, send them a message, maybe even follow them on social media.

Think about what you have to offer, and what you want to get out of joining. Remember that building a community is like opening an account at the bank — you have to make deposits before you can withdraw. Deposits can be big things, like writing a review for someone’s book or offering to critique a chapter or manuscript. But they can also be smaller, such as congratulating someone on social media when they reach a milestone, sharing their good news, or simply forwarding an article or a book title that might interest them.

As the conference opens, take a deep breath and dive in.  Join a table where you don’t know anyone — the Writer Unboxed crew is a friendly bunch and filled with more introverts than you can imagine. Prepare one or two lines about yourself in advance — where you are from, what you read/write, what your interests are. And think of some easy ice breakers that can help start a conversation. Write them down if it makes you feel calmer and place them somewhere nearby so that if you panic, you can read them. And don’t forget to participate in networking night, a stress-free event where you’ll  rotate through meeting other attendees for a few minutes each.

Put on your fanciest pajama pants, relax, and remember — it’s supposed to be fun!

Now it’s your turn!

Have advice on how to make the most of an online event? Are you an UnConference alum or have you already experienced the OnConference lounge and have thoughts for those not yet registered? We’d love to hear any tips you might have. The floor is yours.

If you’d like to attend the Writer Unboxed OnConference but finances have stood in your way, please reach out to Therese at writerunboxed@writerunboxed.com. 

 

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