How Not to Approach Someone at a Convention

Earlier this year at a convention, I had an odd encounter that seemed like it could be a learning experience for some.

After appearing on a panel, during that time when people are filing out and in of the room, I was approached by someone who rudely demanded, “You were on the panel — who are you?” I repeated my name and website, and he said he had a website and what its URL was. When silence indicated that no more information would be forthcoming from him, I asked him what it was about. He said he reviewed comics.

This started giving me an odd feeling, particularly when, after the conversation ended, he followed me to another room. He clearly wanted something, but I don’t know exactly what it was. My best guess was either advice or a link, but I still don’t know, exactly, since he did everything wrong and seemed uncomfortable communicating, as though he was expecting me to draw him out.

Here’s what he could have done right:

  1. The most important thing: Have business cards with your name and URL (and any other information you care to share, such as a mailing address if you’re interested in review copies). His URL was one that could be spelled several different ways, and it’s only because I’m doggedly curious that I found it afterwards.
  2. Be polite, not creepy or rude. If he’d introduced himself and said he enjoyed the panel, I wouldn’t have been so weirded out when he asked who I was. An apology for not catching my name the first time would have gone even further.
  3. If you are seeking help and/or advice, be clear about what you’re looking for.
  4. But first, ask if the person has a moment to talk.
  5. Be prepared to briefly describe the project you’re looking for help with or attention for. They call this an elevator pitch, in some circles, but at least have one or two sentences that say what it is and what sets it apart.
  6. If you’re reviewing comics, you need more of a hook than “I talk about what I’ve read lately.” What makes your perspective interesting, or are you selecting books in a particular genre or format? Are you studying a particular subject?
  7. A comic site with no pictures is lame. This is a visual medium, put some images on your site, even if they’re just covers.

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