SCBWI's winter conference is only days away. Here's some things I've learned in my years of conference going that may help you prepare for your experience.
What to Wear:
During the Day - Clothing at the conference is business casual. The rooms fluctuate in temperature so make sure to bring layers. The hotel is attached to Grand Central Station so there is very little need to go outside. If you do plan to go outside to take a break or see the city, bring a heavy jacket, a hat, gloves, and a scarf. NYC is known for its wind tunnels and even on a moderate day, it can be cold and breezy. If you don't own these things, don't worry. There is always people on the street selling them.
Saturday Night - Saturday night is the Gala Event. The best advice I heard this year is to bring something you would wear to go out to a fancy dinner.
What to Bring:
These days you can do almost everything from a smart phone so as long as you have one, you are covered for taking photos and getting online. Wifi is spotty at best, so other devices are not going to work consistently. I also always bring a pad of paper and my laptop. The day is long and something someone says may inspire you to work on your own manuscript. If you are an illustrator, some of my favorite note taking at the conference has been shared in pictures. Business Cards are helpful for keeping track of new friends. You can print some yourself using store bought Avery Business Cards or have them professionally done.
Breakfast will be provided on Saturday and Sunday morning and there is always water available. The Saturday Gala will have food, but you still might want to plan to eat before or after. You may want to bring a snack to eat, especially on Sunday, which is a long day without a lot of breaks. You can find food in the hotel lobby, at Grand Central's food court, and on pretty much every block of the city if you feel like going outside.
Interesting Places to See:
There is a bar in Grand Central called The Campbell Apartments, which is incredibly unique and somewhat hard to find. The Apple Store in Grand Central is also worth a visit, believe it or not. If you feel like going outside, The New York Public Library is only a few blocks away.
Things to Know:
Agents and Editors - They are people too. If they are sitting in the conference room, giving a presentation, or especially, going to the bathroom, they are not looking to hear about your latest manuscript. A good rule of thumb is not to talk about your own work unless someone asks. Instead, if you should meet an agent or editor in a random place, say hello. Ask them how they are doing. The conversation will give you a starting point in your query and may be more likely to get a publishing deal them pulling out your work in an inappropriate place. Don't be remembered for your rudeness, be remembered for your polite and thoughtful conversation. If you are asked about your work, make sure you have your elevator pitch ready - but again, do not use it in an elevator.
Twitter - If you are not already a Twitter user, I highly recommend getting an account, even if all you do is follow #NY16SCBWI. It will give you an insiders perspective and access to sessions you don't attend yourself.
Talk to Everyone - While the sessions are informational, and the keynotes are inspiring, the best takeaways I have gotten from the conference are from the attendees. People expect you to talk to them, so don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Take advantage of the Gala on Saturday night which is designed for you to meet your regional team so you can take the conference home with you. You never know if that random stranger next to you ends up being a new good friend, a critique partner, or one day, a well published author or illustrator. If you've ever experienced one of those terrible speeches when someone says, look to your left, look to your right, some of these people won't be here in four years - SCBWI is the opposite. Look to your left, look to your right, some of these people will be famous one day. It might even be you!