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Creator Tips and Tricks #20: Creators at Conventions - After the Convention

ArtCrumbs Community • Oct 11, 2022

Welcome to the next installment of the Creators at Convention series. In the last two entries, we gave ideas on how to make the most of attending conventions, whether you have a table/booth or you are roaming and focusing on networking.

In this particular entry, we'll be covering what to do after the convention is over to make the most of your new connections and keep your business rolling efficiently. Be sure to get some rest too, but the wheel never stops turning in comics, the next convention is right around the corner!

Even as a publisher, it's important to network and follow-up as much as possible! Here are some of the awesome folks we met up with at last weekend's New York Comic Con.

Follow up with new Connections

Go through all the business cards you collected and make a plan on how you want to engage with them in the future.  Networking and connection-making is a very powerful tool in the growth of your personal brand and the business itself. Sorting the business cards or other various items you obtained into follow-up, following on socials, or making a note on how they might be helpful in the future as a connection can be beneficial. It allows you to make the most of your time following up with others by identifying when you want to follow up with each person and if you actually want to. Not every connection will be valuable, or be valuable right away.

Follow up within the next few days/first week. You want to follow up within a reasonable time after an event, preferably within the next week. Sending out messages the day after the con is generally not recommended due to the business of post-con travel, organizing, etc. Waiting a day or two is a better bet that your message will get to them when they have time to read it and reflect on the meeting.

Send a thank-you note to any speaker/publisher that you worked directly with or that made a difference in the way you think.  As someone who has paneled and been a resident artist before at conventions, organizing what to say, and even getting to the convention itself can be a huge task. We don’t always get to talk to those who attend our speaking engagements or panels, so hearing it directly from a fan feels amazing. We really appreciate it.

Mention a conversation from the event. When speaking to someone you met at an event, bringing that up can be helpful. However, even better than that, you can bring up something specific that was spoken about. It can help jog the memory of who you are speaking to and increase the sense of familiarity with that person.

Offer to help. It can be exciting to make a new contact, especially if they have connections you want to have access to. However, when you reach out to someone, focus on what both parties can gain from the relationship. It should not be about what you want them from. Business relationships are give and take, and being the first one to offer help can be a great way to start off a new friendship.

Ask to meet up. If you live nearby or will be in an area near that person, suggest meeting up in the future. This can give you more time to discuss projects, get advice or feedback, or continue a discussion that was happening at the event. When reaching out to the person or group, mention the topic or reason you’d like to meet up and where. Be sure to be mindful of the other person’s time and what they may have available.

Business and Finances

Aside from networking, make sure you keep the business and financial side of your brand up to par.

Check your inventories! If you read the first entry of our convention series, we mentioned having an inventory list ready before the convention. As soon as you can, update your personal lists with all the items you sold, how much, etc. It can be exhausting to do after a convention, but the sooner you get all this done, the sooner you can put in orders for the next convention. In a time when shipping can take longer, paper shortages are still a problem, and costs have increased for many things, it’s essential to keep your inventory. Don't forget to also update any online stores you have!

The other reason you’ll want to do this is taxes, as a business owner, when traveling to other states for conventions and sometimes other cities/counties, you might be required to file extra taxes. Be sure to gather all the necessary tax information that you’ll need. Some conventions will provide this information, some won’t.

Add up your expenses and any income you made, store receipts in a safe place, and get everything organized. Networking events, sometimes food and drink, travel, hotel, all sorts of things can count as business expenses, and that can save you money in the form of business deductions!

Even if you didn’t table, I think this is a good exercise to do. Building efficient habits and being prepared for when you ARE tabling will put you in the best position possible to succeed.

Sign up for the next year of the convention as soon as you can. A lot of conventions will give priority or first dibs to the most recent exhibitors/artist alley of the convention. Some will require you to wait a certain period. Some are lottery based for attendance. If you want to attend again, be sure to make a note of when and how you can apply to increase your odds of being selected for the next year.

Math Lady / Confused Lady | Know Your Meme

Analysis and sharing what you've learned

Write it down, make sure to spell it out for yourself. This is more of a mental exercise to analyze your growth. A lack of knowledge about something isn't bad, it's just an arrow pointing you in the direction that you need to go to learn new things. It will also be beneficial to see this year-to-year to see what changed both in you and your experiences at that particular convention.

Share your experiences and photos, videos, whatever online! It's a great way to connect to your fan-base, be seen and recognized for being there, and more. Being able to talk and share your experience can also be enjoyable for those who didn't get to attend and can still understand what the experience is like. It can also be helpful for them when preparing for their own conventions, just like this article series!

Organize your business cards if you didn't do that while at the convention. I use a 3 ring binder and separate cards by what con and what year I got them from. This way, if I reach out to any of those people in the future, I’m able to know when and where I met them! This is a critical part to me, as it allows me to go over whom I met and if I'd like to keep fostering that relationship. Sometimes grabbing a post-it note, or index card and writing down what I learned about/from that person can be helpful in recalling information in a follow-up message later. The sooner you do this, the less likely you are to forget the details!

Closing thoughts

Conventions are fun and there is so much to see, learn, and experience. It's easy to get overwhelmed, especially if this is your first time going to or tabling at a con. They are very different experiences, and it might take time to get into the routine of attending them. Each convention is a little different, so remaining flexible in whatever routine you set will be very beneficial.

Attending the same conventions regularly, or jumping onto the convention circuit, allows you to interact with the same people consistently, usually. Over time, you'll find these folk can become your family. It's a wonderful group to be a part of. Being kind and cordial will get you far.

If you have any additional thoughts, questions, or even your own tips to share, please share them in the comments below! If you feel this can be helpful to someone else, share it with them!

Thank you all for reading, and we'll see you in the next article! As always, check out our resources below!