All views stated here are my own personal opinion and do not endorse nor reflect the thoughts and views of any other person or organization.
I just attended a conference and have returned with loads of new books and new author friends, plus a few reader friends who share my love of all things written. I did notice some things along the way which I plan to incorporate into the next conference I attend.
1. Socialize: It's hard for me (and many authors I know) to meet new people because we are, at heart, introverts. I'm shy (okay, people who know me, stop that laughing) until someone gets to know me, then I will talk your ears off. So it's hard for me to go up to a group of strangers and just start talking. BUT... The people in that group may be just as shy as you are! So be shy together and perhaps make new friends.
2. Push Your Comfort Zone: This pairs with the above. Attend a panel you really want to go to that isn't necessary your 'comfort' area. Always wanted to see what fetishes in BDSM are? Attend the panel! And speak up, too. There really are no 'dumb' questions. Seriously, there aren't. I found when I asked a question (heart pounding because people were looking at me) several others in the room nodded. They had the same question or one similar. I pushed my comfort zone to speak up, but it gave me the answer to something I really wanted to know.
3. Try Something New: Whether it's an author you've never read, speaking to people you don't know, trying a new food or attending a panel, go for the new and not the same. the only way to find a new favorite is to try it. This also pushes me to 'get out of the rut' and do something I may love...or not. The main goal is to try.
4. Don't Complain...Find a Solution: I heard several different negative things about the food, or the panels, the hotel, etc. Some things we can't change. Some we can. Don't like the food? Go find a restaurant close and eat what you like. Didn't like the panel? Find another! The hotel is way expensive? Of course it is! Try being a 'celebrity' in your mind and just enjoy the things we don't have everyday.
5. Get Out and Walk: I made the joke I walked 2,000 miles.(And have the song in my head to prove it) And of course it felt like I did! We walked to the aquarium, saw the Olympic park and the torch holder, found a lovely 50's style diner, and a mystery dinner theater I would love to try! All from just going out and walking around.
Remember, a conference, like anything else in life, depends on what you put in on what you receive back.