Nowadays, there are so many ways to get to know people ahead of the event it is well worth spending some time doing just that.
There were a whole host of people I knew only through twitter and it was great to finally meet some of them: JC Martin, notefromlapland, StephyMarland, lettherebewords, SueMoorcroft, Janelovering, janeholland1, sallyzig, SCallejo, joannacannon, caroleagent, nicolamorgan, hprw, SWWJZoe, debbieflint ... and that's not everyone!
I didn't get to speak to any of them for nearly long enough. I managed to not call anyone by their twitter name (mostly thanks to the name badges) although I did introduce myself as Katy Little Lady several times. Most tweeters agreed we needed name badges that also stated our twitter name. A tweet-up point would have been good as well.
Last year I joined the Society of Women Writers and Journalists as a probationer and they had a stand set up in the coffee break area. It was great to meet Zoe King for the first time. She is even more lovely in real life and I would love to adopt her and keep her in my pocket but that is another matter. I had offered to spend a bit of time with Zoe on the stall and it was a nice way to meet anyone who wanted to come and chat about the society.
The Word Cloud
I have to confess that my social media home is on twitter (if you hadn't of guessed) but the Writers' Workshop who run the festival also have a great resource in the form of Word Cloud. It is another way of interacting with other writers and I am registered on there as katylittlelady. I have to confess I only registered on there just before the festival and haven't quite got my head around navigating the site. It is another great way of 'meeting' people before the event though.
Meeting up with old friends
Many writers are able to use these kind of events to meet up with other writing friends who we otherwise don't get to see in our occupation. So you may have spotted me with Simon Whaley and Penny Legg for exactly that reason. It makes a nice change to be able to communicate without the use of email.
Making new ones
There were plenty of opportunities to meet other writers and industry professionals. All the events were geared up to make this possible. It's good if you can gear yourself up to approaching editors and agents but I have to confess I wasn't quite so bold. I chatted with them if it happened naturally but I didn't seek them out. I have to admire the people who where able to interact like that and I think I definitely need to work on my confidence on that level.
The only problem is not having enough time to interact with everyone. Although I'm pretty sure most of us couldn't have chatted any more if we tried. Considering we spend our days at computers not chatting to anyone it's a bit like taking part in a marathon - I know I was pretty exhausted by the end of it! The good news is having met people for the first time I know I will get to meet them again at other future writing events. And for the people I didn't get to chat to, well there is always next time...
So if you are heading to a festival like this one do make sure you make the most of networking because these days you don't even have to wait until the event.