by Danica Favorite
Many people are focused on networking at conferences. Not that networking isn’t important, but I hope at this year’s conference, you’ll also remember the power of simply making friends. The most valuable industry contacts I’ve gained have not been from schmoozing, but from hanging out.
One neat example happened six or seven years ago. At the time, I was not writing inspirational so I had no agenda for my career. Camy Tang invited me to go to dinner with a group at ICRS, and I accepted, wanting to spend time with my friend. We ended up on opposite ends of the table and I was stuck sitting between two strange men- Chip MacGregor and Randy Ingermanson. Since I had only been to romance conferences, I figured the two men were there with their wives. I felt bad for these poor guys so I chatted with them. I remember asking Chip his name and he looked shocked. Then I asked who his wife was. He told me, and then I asked him to point her out. Obviously, she was not there. So I asked why he was here with a group of writers. His response, “I’m the publisher at Time Warner.”
Color me embarrassed. We laughed it off and I continued chatting with them. Fast forward two years, when Chip is an agent and I’ve decided to start writing Christian fiction. Chip pulled me aside and said, “when are you going to send something to me?” Surprised, I said, “I wasn’t. You’re my friend. Why would I take advantage?” After giving me his famous “you’re an idiot” look, he asked me to submit. Several revisions and a couple years later, he became my agent.
I didn’t walk into the restaurant looking for an agent. That first night, I met a lot of great people. I became friends with- Chip and Randy and a few other folks whose names are immediately recognizable in the Christian industry. I didn’t know that at the time. In fact, some of them had not yet become big names.
I could tell a number of similar stories. I am truly blessed to have great contacts in the business. I am even more blessed to call them friends. Occasionally, those two end up crossing. I don’t believe it’s because I look to gain something from the relationship. In fact, I work really hard to not take advantage of my friends. So my encouragement, as you head into the ACFW conference, is not to simply make contacts. Go out and make friends. Don’t look for what you can gain from the relationship, other than the idea that you’re getting to meet a great new person. Maybe those people will turn into business contacts, maybe they will be great friends. And someday, if you’re really lucky, maybe they will turn out to be both.
With four active kids ages 7-23, and a crazy dog, Danica Favorite is never short on inspiration for her latest story, whether entertaining a live audience or crafting her latest novel. She and her family make their home in Denver, Colorado. You can connect with her at www.danicafavorite.com.