Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 10, 2010

How to Network at a Conference Luncheon

Each year, we take a lot of time to assign tables for lunch at the conference in June.  The reason we do that is to help the attendees meet more of the faculty. 

We place one faculty member at head each table and then start placing attendees at the tables.  When that is completed it goes out to a couple volunteers who check on each person to see if they have been placed people with a different editor/agent than they are seeing in their one-on-one critique. 

The other thing the volunteer checkers are trying to do, is make sure if you are attending both days, that you get to sit with two different members of the faculty. 

Since this year we have planned a served lunch, there will be more time to converse and network.  Remember, the other people at your table can be just as important to you as the head of your table.  It’s true.  You never know where your next opportunity will come from.  The new author next to you, could very easily have spoken to an editor or agent eariler in the day who told them they are looking for a historical 1930’s middle grade novel taking place in Hollywood and that is exactly what you are working on.  I have seen contracts result from off-the-wall remarks like that at luncheons.

So this is what we are all going to do at our tables this year:  There will be an assigned person at each table to start things off.  So come prepared.  Start by handing out your business card as you talk about the following: 

1.  Who you are?

2.  Where you are from?

3.  What you write or illustrate.

4.  What you are working on right now.

5.  Have you had anything published?

6.  How long have you been a member.

7.  If this is your first conference or first NJSCBWI conference.

8.  Do you have a website or blog?

Remember you only have one minute to say something about yourself and break the ice.  Also, don’t hog the editor or agent, give other people a chance to talk.  If you see someone just sitting at the table who is not included in the conversation, please try to pull them into the discussion.  What goes around comes around.

Even if you are not attending this conference, you can use the above at another luncheon.  Just step up and make the suggestion and get things started.  You’ll be happy you did.

Hope this helps,



  1. Hey Kathy, Very valuable information. Thanks so much!! I agree, there is a LOT of moving and shaking that can happen when sharing a meal. Make every minute count!


    • You know, I can be SO bad at handing out my card because I get so caught up in conversation! lol And I always feel “pushy”, but you’re right, Kathy—-in this circumstance, it’s expected, so I shouldn’t feel that way. Thank you!


      • Donna,

        I have ro make a point of remembering to bring mine with me. I always forget with all the other things I have to bring for the conference.



    • Nanci,

      You can say that again.



  2. Great points! I will be checking back here often!


    • Cindy,

      Hope you find lots of place to use the idea.



  3. What a great post, Kathy. I’ve stopped attending conferences recently, but this post makes me want to go to one, just so I can chat with my fellow authors at lunch!


    • Tracey,

      I wish you would come out to one in the near future. I miss you.



  4. Thanks for this article. I’ve printed it out to refer to. And I realized I’d better get some new cards printed!


    • Mary,

      I have to make sure that I pack my business cards and take them with me. I should do that now, because I know I’ll forget them with all the other conference stuff I have to take.



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