I've been to many writers' conferences over the years; my very first was the Romantic Times convention in the Marriott Marquis in 1994. Conferences are highly charged with energy; you leave there exhilarated and drained at the same time.
We've all seen the many tips and hints that help new attendees, and I'd like to add the ones that I've learned in my experience.
If you're attending RWA in San Diego in July, have a blast!
My conference tips:
If you don't feel qualified to submit a proposal to be a speaker, sign up to be a moderator at one or more of the workshops. It's a great way to meet people, and you can do a bit of speaking if you care to. As moderator you introduce the speaker(s), give a brief bio of each, and call on audience members when they have questions. Makes me feel like a real 'insider' and is a lot of fun.
Take a lot of snacks to carry around with you...sometimes there's NOWHERE to eat, and at one conference, a banana cost $4 !
Take a bottle of water with you each day.
Don't ever accost an editor or agent in the ladies' room. I've heard of authors cornering editors in the ladies room stalls! Now that's not going to get anyone a contract!
I did accost a Kensington editor in the hallway, but I'd already sent her a partial, she'd asked to see the entire ms, and I wanted to ask if she received it and liked it. Ballsy move, I know, but all she could say is no (she was really nice).
Yes, comfy shoes AND it gets really hot in there, so don't dress too warm either. Dress as if you're going to a business meeting, but when it gets hot (and it will), you can take off the blazer.
Attend the workshops about the writing business and writing in general instead of the social media workshops. If you're going to an editor/agent appointment, yes, it's ok to read from an index card. And don't be nervous! They're people too.
Take a day off when you get home, you'll need it!